In the aftermath of their defeat in the finals, there are some tough decisions to be made by LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Each of the Miami’s Big Three has an opt out clause in his contract and speculation is rife as to whether they will exercise it. And if they do, will they restructure their contracts to enable the Heat management to get the additional pieces they will definitely need to challenge for the championship next year? The Heat’s lack of a bench was glaringly obvious in the series with San Antonio and there is no way they are going to stand pat in the off-season.
Even before the championship series ended there were rumors that the Big Three would be playing for less money next year in order to get Carmelo Anthony on the team. If that does happen, there will even more Miami haters than ever because it will be another instance of LeBron getting another superstar on his team to win another title or two. However, I don’t think it’s going to happen. One reason is that getting Carmelo is not going to address Miami’s greatest weakness, the lack of a big man who can strengthen their interior defense and rebounding. Carmelo does provide firepower but his defense is nonexistent and he is a ball hog who doesn’t like to share the ball.
I am also curious as to whether the Big Three will all be willing to take a pay cut in the interests of the team. It seems to me that LeBron is more obsessed with winning championships than the other two are. LeBron reckons that greatness is measured in terms of the number of titles won and he wants to get at least six so that he can count himself the equal of the sainted Michael Jordan. So far he has ” only ” two and he has a long way to go. Dywayne Wade has no such ambitions (I think) and I don’t suppose Chris Bosh does either. On the other hand, LeBron was the only one of the three who played up to the level of his contract. Wade has lost a step or two, has no ” lift” and is clearly on his last legs. The fearless , hard-driving style of his earlier days has taken a toll on his body and he is an injury waiting to happen. He has a lucrative contract with a Chinese sneaker company but will he be willing to consider a drastic reduction in salary ? Bosh was never really as good as the other two and he was almost non-existent in the series against the Spurs. Neither of them will command this kind of money elsewhere but for LeBron the sky is the limit ; any number of teams would like to sign him for the max if only they could.
But , if titles are what LeBron craves, which other team gives him a better chance than Miami does? The Lakers, Knicks and Celtics are capped out and years away from contention. The Rockets might be able to sign him but they would have to trade away several key players. Besides, will LeBron be able to share the ball with Dwight Howard and James Harden? As for the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose’s knees are so fragile that I don’t think LBJ would take a chance on signing with the Bulls. Perhaps the Trailblazers are a viable option but I can’t see LeBron leaving sunny Miami for rainy Portland. It would also mean playing in the much stronger Western Conference where just getting to the finals is a dogfight.
For those reasons I think LBJ will stay in Miami but, for the Heat to be able to contend, the Big three will have to take sizeable pay cuts, Wade and Bosh more so than LeBron, and Pat Riley will have to do a super job of replenishing the Heat bench.
P.S one other reason that I think LBJ will stay with the Heat is that he doesn’t want to be labeled a quitter, again. It happened once before with Cleveland and he will want to avoid that at all costs.
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.