NBA@2: Chris Bosh a Game-time Decision
According to Erick Spoelstra of the Miami HEAT, forward Chris Bosh is a game-time decision for Tuesday night’s Game 5 against the Boston Celtics.
The HEAT lost Bosh midway through Game 1 of their second-round series against the Indiana Pacers with an abdominal strain. He’s been out indefinitely since but appears to be close to a return.
Miami lost their first two games vs. Indiana without Bosh before reeling off five in a row to close out the series and take a 2-0 edge over the Celtics. Since the series shifted to Boston, the Celtics have muscled out back-to-back wins to even the series.
In Miami, Bosh has had his ups and downs as the third option behind Dwyane Wade and LeBron James but he’s a valuable piece that is badly missed. Through 5 1/2 postseason games Chris has averaged 14.7 points and 6.8 boards while shooting 51.7% from the field.
Even if he’s nowhere near the heights of Wade/James offensively, it’s difficult to fuel three dominant scorers over 48 minutes and Bosh has willingly adapted his game to the needs of the team.
With his steady face-up jumper, Bosh helps the HEAT spread the floor which opens up driving lanes for the team’s two dynamic scorers.
It took everything the Celtics had to win Game 4 in Boston. A Wade three-pointer at the buzzer that didn’t land nearly gave the HEAT a 3-1 lead returning home to Miami.
If Bosh can return and be made an impact, the Celtics will have a difficult time taking the series’ lead.
Equally an abdominal strain can severely limit mobility. Can Chris fight against the physical Celtics?
So far this series both teams have won by double-digits and then closed out a tight one by four points or less.
LeBron has averaged 32.3 points, nine boards and 4.5 assists while shooting 51.6% from the field. Wade has put in 20.1 points per game with five boards and 5.3 assists while shooting 45.7% from the field.
Rajon Rondo has carried the Celtics, averaging 24 points, seven boards and 10.5 assists while shooting 54.1% from the field. In the Game 2 Boston loss, Rondo scored a career-high 44 points. Both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce have been major factors, although Pierce has fouled out twice through four games.
As tremendous as the stars have been, it’s going to be contributions from players like Mario Chalmers, Brandon Bass, Udonis Haslem, Mickael Pietrus and Shane Battier that will be the difference.
Ultimately the tipping point may still be Chris Bosh.
The Lakers made an easy decision on Monday, picking up Andrew Bynum’s $16.1 million option for the coming season.
Whether he proves to be the franchise center the team hopes he’s already started to become or if they deal him for someone else, the option had to happen regardless.
If the LA had passed, Andrew would have become an unrestricted free agent and a lot of teams are expected to have cap room this summer. No option and Bynum would have had ample opportunity to walk, leaving the Lakers with nothing.
Now the team has multiple choices. They can trade him over the offseason or by the trade deadline. LA can either negotiate a long-term extension this summer or any time up through the June 30th, 2013 deadline.
Or the Lakers can let him hit free agency next July and either re-sign him, lose him to another team or execute a sign and trade.
Both parties expect extension talks to start later in the summer.
The Lakers have a number of difficult decisions ahead, notably with the looming graduated and repeater taxes. LA is also on hook for a dramatic increase in revenue sharing in the post-lockout/new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) era.
HOOPSWORLD recently broke down the issues facing the team (Where Do The Lakers Go From Here?).
Bynum now has seven seasons in the league. At $16.1 million, he’s already over the maximum salary for a player with his experience.
The most the Lakers can give Bynum in an extension (kicking in for the 2013/14 NBA Season) would be $16.9 million in the first year and $54.5 million in total over three. Including his current year, the Lakers would have a four-year investment at $70.6 million in Bynum.
Teammate Kobe Bryant is scheduled to make $27.8 million and $30.5 million over the next two seasons. Assuming Bynum and the Lakers do agree to an extension, that’s about $44 million and $47 million invested in just two players.
That’s why Pau Gasol, at $19.0 million and $19.3 million, is the piece the Lakers look to trade. With Bynum’s emergence, Gasol has fallen to third option on the team and that’s just too much money under the new CBA.
From the outside, a contingent of Laker fans would like to see Bynum traded over Gasol. Andrew can come off as distant, aloof and immature (see J.J. Barea hit, three-point shot attempt benching, etc.).
Andrew struggled at times in the postseason with constant double-teams. He’s still learning how to read them, often holding the ball too long and making ill-advised decisions. With players fronting and backing him, there were long stretches his teammates just couldn’t get him the ball.
Coaching and execution aside, the Lakers just weren’t quite built to support Bynum with the proper athletes and floor-spacers to give him room to operate.
Gasol is more of a post player than a stretch four and while over the regular season Pau had a steady high-post jump shot; it mostly disappeared in the postseason.
The Lakers are looking to reconfigure their team to fit modern-day economics and provide Bynum with outside shooters who will either make teams pay for doubling – or force teams to play straight up.
It will be interesting to see if the Lakers can actually get that done in time for next season.
In the background there’s a notion that LA might consider a Dwight Howard for Bynum swap but it’s unclear as of yet what the Orlando Magic intend, at least until they sign a general manager.
Howard is recovering from back surgery and the Lakers are fond enough of Bynum, despite what some fans may think, that an extension in LA is far more likely than a blockbuster deal with the Magic (or anyone really if Andrew is the bait).
The Lakers believe they have one of the top-two players at a position they hold sacred. The team’s championship history has always been built around the big man whether it was George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal or Gasol.
It’s too early to say if Bynum is anywhere close to that list. He can boast more knee injuries than rings (two) but how many championships can Howard claim?
If the Lakers do invest long-term in Andrew, he will have a lot to live up to.
This past season he made major strides but he still has a long, long, long way to go.
The team option was just a natural step forward. An extension appears to be the next.
After the San Antonio Spurs won 20-straight games, could anyone anticipate three-straight losses in the Western Conference Finals to the Oklahoma City Thunder?
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