It has been a few days since the Heat completed their collapse and the Mavericks completed their first NBA Championship. I am not here to talk about that. I am not here to talk about LeBron’s post-game comments, nor the ring v bracelet debate, nor anything involved with all that. I know it is a novel idea, so do not pat me on the back too much, but I am here to talk basketball. That’s right, I am here to ponder what the Heat ought to do going into next year with the likely hard salary cap and doubts about how the big three fits together.
The first question is whether the big three is going to stay together. We all sort of realized going in that this was not the best big three that could be built (maybe Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony if we aren’t using the players involved) because Wade and LeBron did kind of the same thing and Chris Bosh was a good player who looked inflated by being the only player on the Raptors worth noting. However, when they joined forced and Chris Bosh turned down the chance to retire as a Raptor and become the mascot, we all sort of tabled that fear because, hell, it was LeBron, Wade and Bosh on the same team. Months later, we are realizing that our initial doubts weren’t foolish or contrived, but at least had some kind of backing to them. So the question going into the offseason is if the big three needs changing. The answer is that it does not need changing, but they should look into it a little.
LeBron’s post game has been something that I, and others, have thought about a lot before this year, but now it seems like it is a necessity going into the offseason if the Heat are going to become the force we thought. He has never really had to play off the ball in his career, and so it is understandable that he hasn’t developed it, but it really would make him unstoppable-er. Regardless of if he adds this to his game or not, he is not going anywhere and is still the best player in the NBA by a fairly considerable margin. It is easy to pile on LeBron after the finals and forget how he eviscerated the Bulls and would have been the NVP had Rose not gone from fascinatingly talented to spectacular. He can get better, which is absolutely frightening, but he is not going to get moved or anything of the sort.
Dwyane Wade is Mr. Heat and I would be shocked to see him move after so many years in Miami. The “fans” would probably mutiny, and I could not blame them too much. However, from a basketball perspective, I wouldn’t blame them too much for moving him, especially if they were to find a way to make it for a certain player who also plays in Florida and occasionally wears a cape during the dunk contest. It would never happen, but are you telling me Orlando would turn down Wade for Howard? Does it not also make the Heat a more balanced team? Maybe I am missing a key component from a purely basketball standpoint, but if not for that fan mutiny in Miami, that trade is pretty interesting to me. However, it will never happen, especially with the Magic. If I were Pat Riley, I would let people make offers for Wade, but only if it was an absolutely fantastic offer. While he is an outstanding closer and one of the best players in the league he is a little redundant on this team right now.
Bosh is the member of the Heat trio most likely to leave, and while there will certainly be suitors, I do not think they can get value for him like they want. However, they might not have much of a choice given the potential hard cap and the unlikely scenario of someone wanting to take on Mike Miller for his current price and giving the Heat anything for him. If Bosh leaves, that means one big thing and one smaller thing for the Heat. The big thing is that LeBron would need that post game now rather than later. Bosh was never really a low-post scorer, but just the option of scoring in the paint without a dribble-drive would be nice for the Heat. The smaller issue would be getting full value for Bosh if he is moved. He is better than he is perceived to be right now and it could be hard to get the pieces you want for him, especially with his contract. I do not think he will get moved, but I wouldn’t be too shocked if he did as he is clearly the weakest of the trio.
So what gets changed? Almost nothing if you ask me. I would try to move Bosh for a defensive big man who is a good rebounder and a few other pieces if someone will offer it. I am in no way comparing Jordan to LeBron here because they hardly belong in the same sentence, but think of it as adding a less crazy Rodman to Wade and LeBron’s Jordan-Pippen. A Joakim Noah type would be fantastic, though they are never going to get a guy like that. Even with the hard salary cap coming, I am not sure if they will be able to move Bosh even if they want to.
The role players will change themselves, and that is probably for the best. Less Mike Bibby and Juwan Howard is good for everyone. As long as they can find serviceable role players around the league, and there are a litany of them, they will be fine and should be considered favorites going into next year. It is easy to be reactionary and say “blow it up” but there are no rosters I would take over theirs right now. In a one-game situation, they probably have the best defense in the league, have the potential to have the most dynamic offense in the league if they can play together, and still should make any team’s coaching staff lose sleep. They failed when it mattered most but they are still fantastic players.
Are there changes they can make that will make them better? Absolutely, and not making those moves would be a disservice to the players and fans, but let’s not get crazy after a Finals disappointment. Once you get over your visceral reaction, if you can, to what a dick-move LeBron pulled on Cleveland, and get over everything involved with that, there are few teams who have the potential to play better basketball than the Heat. They can play the energetic, athletically jaw-dropping defense we crave, and the virtuoso offensive performances we all want to see. If the names on the jerseys were erased and the faces were blurred out, everyone who loves basketball, and only basketball, would love the Heat. Of course, you can’t erase the names, faces, or the emotions we all carry about the Heat, but from a purely basketball standpoint, you cannot help but be fascinated by this team. They are worthy of every ounce of your hate if you are from Cleveland or still hold “The Decision” against LeBron (and ESPN), but no matter what, there is an element of you that loves the way the Heat are capable of playing. It is what makes them such a compelling team to hate. Like the Joker in The Dark Knight, Tyler Durden in Fight Club and others, the enemy is most compelling when we see something of ourselves or something we admire in them. The Heat really can, and occasionally do, play beautiful basketball. You can hate them if you want, but you cannot claim to really love basketball and not hold out some respect for them.
So they need to make some changes, but it likely will not be directly with their big three. The biggest changes that have to be made are within each of the players, especially LeBron who is the best player in the league as it is. Can he accept coaching? Can he look inward and realize what he has to change? Does he have the drive he needs to push himself without anyone else pushing him? I don’t have the slightest clue, but by the end of next year we will know if LeBronis the next Wilt, stacking up the stats on pure athletic superiority or a player worth admiring for his prodigious play regardless of athleticism like Bird and others.
No matter what, two things are sure. One, the CBA could change everything I just wrote; and two, no single team gives us more to hate and like at the same time than the Miami Heat.
A few unrelated thoughts just to close us out:
- I want Deron Williams to go to LA. To the Clippers.
- Steve Nash should get a shot at a title next year, Unfortunately he will be with the Suns or Knicks, eliminating that possibility.
- The Lakers are done as title contenders. So are the Celtics. So are the Spurs. All of this barring some big changes.
- I like the Warriors next year if they can move Monta Ellis for a proper center and find a wing in the draft or elsewhere.
- DeShawn has a tattoo of the $5 bill on his neck. He wore a shirt asking LeBron how his Dirk tastes. He jsut got arrested for public intoxication where he did not know where he was. He called the Heat classless after the finals. We need to rename the all-crazy team after him.
- That was one of the better Finals I have seen in a long long time.