NBA AM: Is It Time To Break Up The HEAT?
Breaking Up Miami’s Big Three? Here is the problem with big expectations… they are almost impossible to live up to.
It’s hard to forget Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh dancing together on a stage in Miami after the three agreed to join forces in South Beach, counting off the number of championships they planned to win together. Not one, not two, not three… you get the gist.
The problem is with last night’s loss the HEAT face elimination and another season without a championship, and the natives are growing restless.
The speculation of a break up has surrounded the Miami HEAT for more than a month, mostly because everyone in Miami has heard it from one channel or another, that HEAT president Pat Riley has his doubts whether this roster as constructed can win. On Thursday we’ll find out.
The problem for Miami is that as much as they’d like to consider a change, how do they do that without poisoning the situation?
Firing head coach Erik Spoelstra seems logical. It’s always easier to change the voice in the locker room than change the players, but is coaching really the problem?
The bigger problem is that Dwayne and LeBron tend to cancel each other out.
Can the HEAT trade one of them? – Sure. Both likely fetch tons of quality pieces in return, but that forgets how these guys came together.
They were longtime friends that wanted to play together. How does that work for Pat Riley if he breaks that up?
Will HEAT owner Mickey Arison allow the Big Three to be broken up? He has sold everything that can be sold around this group; does a break up kill the golden goose?
The obvious answer is trading Chris Bosh. If you rewind to July of 2010 the first team at Bosh’s door was the Houston Rockets. They were seeking a franchise player then, and still don’t have a franchise player now. That’s an easy deal to make if Miami wants it. The Rockets have tons of pieces they can cobble together for a deal.
If the problem really is that LeBron and Wade are too similar, who goes?
LeBron is the best player in the game – and that’s somewhat painful to admit, but he is. Miami can’t trade him and survive, so that means Wade is the guy.
Can the HEAT really trade the guy that brought the team its only championship? The guy that made the dream of the Big Three happen. The guy that stood by the franchise in its darkest hour and delivered two more stars to South Beach?
Wade turns 31 in January. His body is breaking down. We all see it. He is still one of the elite players in the game, so it’s not like he is broken down or injury-prone, but can Pat Riley sell Mickey that moving Wade gets him another ring?
If the HEAT genuinely put Wade on the market there look to be at least 13 teams with cap space that would trip over themselves to get at Wade. There is a franchise in Chicago that will be without its MVP point guard for almost a year that desperately wanted Wade in 2010. The Bulls have pieces to offer. The Orlando Magic is a few hours up the road and have an All-World Center that’s not too happy these days.
The options become almost limitless.
Talking about breaking things up in Miami is easy. But actually doing it is hard, because of how this came together.
Wade, Bosh and James all have player termination options for free agency in July of 2014. If the HEAT opt to break up the core three, they run the risk of losing all of them.
If the HEAT get eliminated on Thursday in Boston, it’s safe to say Erik Spoelstra is out, but anything beyond that becomes incredibly hard to rationalize unless the Big Three buy into the plan. How do you sell three friends the idea that it can’t work with them together two years after convincing them that it can and those guys not sour on the franchise?
It is starting to look like another fun summer in South Beach.
Do You Want Anything Else Phil? Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated is reporting that an Orlando Magic and Phil Jackson union is not as dead as initially reported.
According to the report, former Magic player Sam Vincent who has been acting as an intermediary has given the Magic a counter proposal that would have Jackson overseeing personnel and basketball operations, with Pacers’ assistant coach Brian Shaw taking the role as head coach and former Bulls’ great Scottie Pippen as the lead assistant coach.
The deal would include a massive salary for Jackson, a possible share of ownership in the team and the stipulation that Jackson would “would work in Orlando one week out of every month and agree to make six community appearances every month.”
It’s unclear how the Magic have responded to such an idea, especially one that has the head of basketball operation out of the office for three weeks at a time.
The Magic have continued to talk with would-be General Manager candidates and are expected to meet again this week in Chicago with front runners during the NBA Draft Combine which gets under way tonight.
Magic sources say the process is on-going and that the team hopes to make some decisions in the coming days, but that no one wants to put an artificial deadline on such an important decision.
Those same sources warned not to buy into too much of the media speculation surrounding the opening, because the magic have not made a decision yet and no one has been offered the job. That may come after the Draft Combine next week.
The Magic have been linked to former Hornets GM Jeff Bower, current Spurs’ Assistant GM Dennis Lindsey, Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver and former Trail Blazers executive Tom Penn.
The Magic did have some level of contact with former Knicks’ executive Donnie Walsh, but sources say Walsh was unwilling to relocate to Orlando.
The Magic parted ways with Team President Otis Smith and head coach Stan Van Gundy 16 days ago and hope to have a new General Manager in place soon. A search for a new head coach will follow a GM hire, although sources say a short list of candidates is already in place and some of those candidates have been discussed with GM candidates.
The Olshey Era Begins New Trail Blazers’ GM Neil Olshey is a smart and charismatic guy. He has been around the block in the NBA a few times holding various jobs with the LA Clippers. He understands how the NBA works and with the backing of owner Paul Allen’s check book, Olshey told reporters yesterday that he has a vision for the Blazers and it does not include wholesale changes.
“I want to set this thing up in the next couple years where we can have a five- to seven-year run with just having to tweak the roster here and there and always be a factor for a Western Conference championship,” Olshey said during his introductory press conference. “That’s my vision.”
Part of that vision is building around the existing stars in Portland including LaMarcus Aldridge.
“As far as I’m concerned, LaMarcus is a cornerstone of the franchise,” Olshey said. “In my mind, he and Nic Batum are what Chris Paul and Blake were to the Clippers, what we were trying to build there. Once you have those two pieces, that bedrock, in place, now you start working out tangentially and adding guys that complement those players.”
“Anybody we’re going to pursue, in terms of a major additions, is going to need to be somebody who is going to be here long-term, that we can build with,” Olshey said.
“I want to make it clear, we’re not looking for quick fixes,” Olshey said. “We’re not looking for aging veterans that can slide us into the eighth spot and we’re right back here a year from now trying to figure out what to do.”
Olshey also said he’s not planning to make any major changes to the basketball operations staff, which includes former acting GM Chad Buchanan.
“He’s someone I think highly of. He’s someone I would have pursued if I were with another organization,” Olshey said. “As long as the chemistry is right and we share the same vision going forward, things will work out with everybody.”
The Trail Blazers will start their search for a new head coach, although Olshey indicated a strong preference towards interim head coach Kaleb Canales who he labeled the “the in-house favorite”.
Warriors In The Hunt For A Star?: Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the Golden State Warriors are pondering deals that could move them out of the 2012 NBA Draft altogether, especially if it returned a star level player like Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala.
“Having four picks is a tremendous situation to be in, and I think we can do some good things with it,” Warriors general manager Bob Myers to Simmons. “We’re excited.
We have a tremendous amount of assets, which puts us in good shape to explore a variety of opportunities. It’s up to us to make something of it.”
The Warriors thought they had a deal done at the start of the season to land Iguodala in exchange for Monta Ellis, however that deal ultimately feel through as new 76ers ownership vetoed the deal.
Expect the Warriors to be active in talks surrounding Iguodala again this summer and around Portland’s Nicolas Batum, Chicago’s Luol Deng, Memphis’ Rudy Gay, Indiana’s Danny Granger and Atlanta’s Josh Smith.
The Warriors have four picks in the 2012 NBA draft and $56.7 million in salary commitments for next season.
The Warriors seem to be willing buyers, however outside of the picks they own this year they do not have much beyond David Lee that other teams would have interest in that could return a big contract, however being just slightly under the salary cap the Warriors can take on 150% more than they send back thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Dorell Wright’s ending $4.10 million contract can return $6.24 million in trade. David Lee’s $12.74 million can return $19.11 million in trade – combine those two and Golden State can take back $25.35 million in salary and provide the sending team with $8.5 million in breathing room under the tax line or the salary cap. So the Warriors do have options, especially with four draft picks in their pocket.
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