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HOOPS EVERY DAY
StraightHoops Is The #1 Basketball Blog On The Web - Hoops Every Day
July 8, 2014
By Anthony J. Fredella
NEW YORK, New York - Rumors, rumors and more rumors. The longer the NBA’s free agent stars, like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh, prolong their announcements of where they will be playing basketball next season, the more outrageous, unsubstantiated and baseless the rumors about their eventual destinations will become. It’s getting so out of control right now that the storylines are reading like odious daytime soap operas. Let’s recap some of the latest gossip: Bosh is considering an $88M max deal from the Houston Rockets; Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Love were playing pickup together at UCLA; Dan Gilbert’s plane, with or without Gilbert aboard, is headed for South Florida; Carmelo Anthony is waiting for Bosh to take the Houston deal so he can sign with the Miami Heat; Las Vegas has dropped their odds of the Cavs winning the 2015 NBA Championship to 10-1; Jeremy Lin is being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers to make room for Bosh; LeBron and Dwyane Wade, but not Chris Bosh, had dinner together last night in Vegas; Bosh told Houston he wants to stay in Miami to play with LeBron. Got all that? Good. Now forget it all because most of it is just plain nonsense spewed by people looking for some headlines while absolutely nothing is going on.
The fact of these matter is this – no one from the LeBron, Carmelo or Bosh camps have really said anything of substance since free agency began. We know there have been some meetings, but that’s about it. Speculation of which team is in “the lead,” for which star is just that, speculation. Unfortunately for those that want to see the outrageous come true, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. The Big 3, including King James, are staying in Miami. All three opted out of their existing contracts for a reason, and that reason was not to test the free agency market. The reason is so that Pat Riley and his Miami Heat organization could have some breathing room to try and go out and bring in some coveted free agents to help the Heat compete with the Western Conference. In case you missed the 2014 NBA Finals, I’ll break it down for you, the Heat are in desperate need of a quality veteran point guard, defensive stoppers and a rim protector. The best grab for Riles would have been PG Kyle Lowry, but he re-upped with the Toronto Raptors in a deal that Miami could not have matched. But there are still some quality PG’s out there that could help Miami, guys like Jameer Nelson - who was not resigned by the Orlando Magic after years of service there. They’ve already gained commitments from PF Josh McRoberts and SF Danny Granger just yesterday. I’ll bet there will be a few more moves made in the next day or so. Once those pieces are in line, then we’ll have the signings of LeBron, D Wade and Bosh.
You might not like it, you might disagree, and you may even call me an idiot. But think about a few things as you’re doing that. First off, Dwyane Wade’s former contract with the Heat called for him to collect $41M over the next two seasons. With all of D Wade’s injuries and his time missed on the court over the last two years, why would he opt out of a contract that would pay him over $20M a year for the next two years, if it was not part of a designed ultimate plan? Go ahead, I’ll wait for a logical explanation to that … Still waiting.
Next off, and we touched on this last week when we told you that you’re not getting LeBron, why would King James, who cares about his legacy and wants to win as many championships as he can to bolster that legacy, leave Miami - a team devoted to winning - to start over once again at the age of 30? Yes, he’s absolutely still in his prime, but he’s knows what he has with the Heat. A move to Cleveland brings an ambush of uncertainty. Kyrie Irving is one of the best, young PG’s in the league, that’s for sure, but what about everyone else? Anderson Varejao is 31 years old and has missed 182 games over the last 4 seasons with the Cavs. SG Dion Waiters and PF Tristan Thompson are streaky and unreliable. #1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins is incredibly gifted and athletic, but still has a lot of game to develop before he becomes a go-to NBA star. Now don’t get me wrong, LeBron has carried far worse teams to the NBA Finals (hello, ’07 Cavs), but does he want to go back to that kind of role and this kind of unpredictability? He may, but I would not call Cleveland the frontrunner, or even a 50/50 split with Miami, at this point. I think Cleveland is on LeBron’s mind, but it is only a thought. James knows the spot for him to win titles is in Miami, but he also knows the team needs some more role players around him and the rest of the Big 3. So they all opted out for the betterment of the franchise, but they’ll all be back in the red, white and black very soon.
As for Carmelo Anthony and his future, forget about him going to Miami. Knowing what Miami needs to maintain a championship caliber team, why would Pat Riley want to add Melo to the mix? Yes, he has tremendous scoring ability, but the Heat need to get stops against the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers, not hit jumpers. The Heat have guys that can get buckets. Anthony solves none of the Heat’s present deficiencies and that’s why he will absolutely not be in South Beach next season. Not to mention the pay cut he would have to take. And while we are at it, forget about the Lakers too for Melo. Come on now, Kobe and Carmelo on the same team? I told you last year that that is just a disaster waiting to happen. It won’t work and I think even Carmelo Anthony knows it won’t work. The max deal is great and all, but if its money that he is after, he doesn’t have to go to LA to get it.
As much as I would like to believe that Carmelo Anthony is in desperate need of an NBA title, I just can’t. If he were, then he’d probably go to Chicago and sign with the Bulls, a team with a formidable defense, solid role players and a scoring point guard (Derrick Rose at 75% of his old self is better than most other PG’s in the league). In Chicago, Melo would be asked to put the ball in the basket, something that he does just about as good, if not better, than anyone else in the world. And that is all that he would be asked to do – just score, and his teammates will take care of the rest. A scoring threat like Melo is exactly what the Bulls lack and it is exactly the piece they need to move them right into the discussion of teams that can win a title in 2015. So if it truly were a ring that Carmelo was after, Chicago makes the most sense.
Unfortunately, for Bulls’ fans, I don’t think Melo leaves that extra year, and extra $30M that the Knicks can offer, on the table. Phil Jackson has done a great job so far, considering what he has to work with, in unloading Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler and bringing in Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Cleanthony Early. Those are not the pieces that will carry the Knicks over the playoff hump, but it’s a start. I think Jackson has done a nice job so far in relaying his vision for the Knicks to Melo with him as the centerpiece of the franchise for the next 5 years, and what the Knicks intend to do with the money they will have available to spend next summer. That will all add up to a new max contract for Melo with the Knicks in the next couple of days.
So, while the headlines, rumors and speculations have been brilliant at times, it is all going to come to a disappointing conclusion very shortly when all of the highly anticipated scenarios die an uneventful death, and LeBron, Melo and Bosh (and D Wade for that matter) re-sign with the exact same teams they were on two weeks ago. Sorry for the letdown, but I tried to warn you.