The NBA: The End of an Era?

Is this the end of their partnership after going 2-2 in the Finals?

They came together 4 summers ago to conquer the basketball world together. They shocked a lot of people with their decision. They celebrated with their fans before the season started and they got hammered and criticized for that with no end in sight.

Were the criticism, scrutiny and pressure justifiable? Sure. In the world of constant sports updates and social media, thousands, even millions of fans can easily voice/type/tweet their hate, anger and frustrations aimed at the Big 3 and the Heatles. They had to endure and overcome all of that to achieve their ultimate goal of winning a ring. The Miami Heat won 2 rings in 4 seasons but there was a feeling that they should have won more (me included). Were two rings enough to call this experiment a success?

Reaching the NBA Finals four straight times and winning back-to-back titles were quite an accomplishment. Only a handful of teams have done that before and Miami was one of them. Was that enough to totally silent the critics and haters? Not quite. How about winning three straight? That would have elevated Miami to one of the best teams ever and maybe dubbed a "dynasty". Unfortunately for Heat fans, that did NOT happen.

The San Antonio Spurs walloped the Miami Heat into submission during the most recent NBA Finals. There are many reasons/excuses why this happened but the bottom line is this: the Heat is near (if not there already) the end of their magnificent run. The Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh might be coming to an end. Heck, their performance in the Finals already showed you that it was LBJ and the Cleveland Cavaliers all over again since Wade and Bosh made disappearing acts. This might be the end of an era for the Heatles.

All three have Early Termination Options in their contracts for this summer. Chances are, all three will opt out. The biggest domino will always be LBJ and if he decides to leave, the others will probably follow him or go somewhere else because there will be nothing left in Miami. If LBJ stays, everyone including him will have to accept an enormous pay cut to make things work again in Miami. There has to be enough salary to allow Miami to "retool and not rebuild" around James. They need younger, hungrier and better role players to surround and support LBJ. Are these doable? With Pat Riley, it probably is.

Will Carmelo Anthony move to South Florida to form a coalition with LBJ?
One of the biggest names rumored to join LBJ and the Heat is Carmelo Anthony. Melo already informed the New York Knicks that he will opt out of his contract and test the free agency market. Anthony can still ask for a new contract from the NYK or he might simply join another team. Other teams believed to be in pursuit of Melo include Chicago, Houston, Dallas and maybe the Lakers. The most enticing will probably to join LBJ. Who doesn't want to play with the best player in the NBA?

Now, if Melo does join the Heat and make it a Big 4 (assuming Wade and Bosh stay), a lot of salary will be left over during negotiations. Each one will be expected to make around $10 million or less for something like this to be feasible. You will have four All-stars not receiving max contracts and will be thoroughly underpaid. Are they all willing to forego all that money to play together? Can Melo tone down his ego (and shot attempts)? Can this Big 4 experiment work? We shall wait and see.

Another option for Miami will be Kyle Lowry from the Toronto Raptors. Lowry will be a free agent in July and if he elects to leave, he will be a welcomed fit in Miami where they lack capable point guards. Some questions to ponder about: is Lowry willing to receive less money and maybe less leadership and responsibilities? I for one, would prefer Lowry over Melo to join the Heat. But I don't think Lowry will leave the Raptors after their successful run last season. If he stays with the Raps, he will probably get his money and be considered as their #1 guy. Those things are difficult to walk away from.

So, is this the end of Miami's dominance (at least in the East)? It will be if they don't upgrade or overhaul the roster. Miami has a lot of holes in their lineup and their bench was proven to be inadequate to compete with the elite teams. Shane Battier retired while Ray Allen is mulling retirement. Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole all played poorly during the Finals. The trials for Beasley and Oden didn't work out. It was a stroke of luck that Rashard Lewis emerged during the ECF and the Finals. Miami cannot rely on something like this happening again. They need someone (or more) to consistently provide them with something. Another year of LBJ carrying the load just won't cut it.

Anyway, a lot of things need to happen before Miami can return to the top of the mountain and it starts with LBJ returning to the Heat while Wade and Bosh join him with lower salaries. The status quo (no significant additions, generally same bench) might still bring them to the Finals but if they want to defeat the Western elite, Miami definitely needs more from the other 2 and the rest of the team.

There are multiple rumors and lots of possibilities when it comes to who might leave or join the Heat. I'm ready to see and experience the possibility of a "new" Miami Heat team this upcoming season. Who is with me?

Next Post »
0 Comment