This morning two of the largest pegs in the free agent market came together in Miami. Dwyane Wade made the expected move and stayed home with the Heat, to continue to build his legacy. After weeks of drama, that was similar to a media-built custody battle between Wade and LeBron James, Chris Bosh chose South Beach as his landing spot and Wade as his running mate. He will receive less than he would have working out a sign-and-trade deal with the Raptors, but the immediate chance at playing under the brightest lights in the league in May probably will help him cope.
Despite this part of the 3-headed free agent monster being slayed, there is still the matter of the LeBron James decision.
Evidently LeBron will broadcast his decision on where he will play next from an orbiting spaceship above the planet to all of the world’s people via ESPN on Thursday night. It has been well documented here where LeBron could choose and what he brings with him besides his formidable talent on the court. While Miami, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, New Jersey and even the LA Clippers have a shot at landing him on tomorrow night, there is one team that should bow out of the race immediately now.
You guessed it.
All of the rage is the potential dream (and nightmare for the 29 other NBA clubs) pairing of Wade, Bosh and James. If you’re a fantasy basketball league, yes, you are winning big time. However, if you are Pat Riley in the off-line world, obtaining James is a mistake on the two most essential levels, on-court and financially.
First of all, this is not a shot against LeBron. He is the most devastating talent in the league and makes any team better
immediately. But for where the Heat are now it makes no sense to add his particular skill set to what they have in place. From a scoring perspective, they are set. Wade is more than enough first option scorer by himself, and by adding Bosh they have paired the best slasher in the NBA with arguably it’s best interior scorer. From a primary scoring perspective the Heat are set and with Michael Beasley, who is steadily improving, they have a solid secondary option. LeBron’s presence would only upset this balance.
LeBron is tremendous everywhere on the floor. But figuring out an offense and keeping chemistry together for both Wade and LeBron for 82 games a year could be a monumental headache. For both Wade and James, fitting into an offense where they are not the clear primary scorer could be a huge problem and realistically decreases their impact on the floor. Both are best adept at leading teams as the undisputed lead of the team. That role could be become as foggy as an eye exam for Mr. Magoo with both in the fold.
The bottom line for Miami is that for the other areas he could benefit the Heat, you can add other role player options that can make do together at the price for one LeBron.
The most strategic approach from this point is to surround these guys with everything they need win out, much in the style of the 2006 Championship squad. Currently outside of Wade and Bosh, the Heat’s roster consists of Beasley, point guard Mario Chalmers, guard Kenny Hasbrouck and draft picks DeSean Butler and Dexter Pittman. There are a few ways they can maximize what is in place already. The best options are to fill out the starting lineup with either a pure center with size that lets Bosh over-match most opposing power forwards (in the mold of Brendan Haywood or Brad Miller) or add another swingman by utilizing Beasley’s flexibility to play the power forward spot. Ideally, this should be a good spot up shooter to benefit from the attention on Wade’s penetration. Mike Miller, Kyle Korver or retaining Quentin Richardson can achieve this.
After this point the attention has to be turned to fortifying the bench, which is where adding LeBron cripples the Heat tremendously. With 3 max contracts, you’re putting all of your eggs in one big basket, a dangerous proposition. Admittedly, if you going to make a gamble of this type, this 3 headed approach is best way to go after it, but if you’re looking to knock off the current top dogs in the NBA bench depth is what makes the difference. The Lakers and Celtics proved that during their recent Finals battles. The Magic, Hawks, Cavaliers and Mavericks all are top contenders in league as well, and boast deep benches to work around their stars.
The Heat need to take the remaining cap room and add a group of shooters, ball handlers and perimeter defenders to run teams into the ground. While it may be a stretch, they could also still pursue Carlos Boozer, who most likely won’t require a max contract and has a good relationship with Wade also. This would be the best starting 5 in the East and make an unmatched rebounding/scoring tandem in Bosh and Boozer. This would lessen what they could afford to add for complete depth, but with a starting lineup of that level, they could easily run a 8-man rotation for most of the season.
Mr. Riley, you’ve won the summer battle already. Your program has gained huge media attention and for all intents and purposes, you have won. You have retained your superstar and landed the best power forward available. In the process, you have formed perhaps the most devastating 1-2 punch in the NBA. Much of the complete picture will not be revealed until LeBron signs and dominoes of players potentially following him end, the Heat are without a doubt in the driver’s seat now. You’ve played your hand well Pat, cash in your chips and spend for depth over name brand notoriety.