I know that I am looking very far ahead into the future here, and a lot of things are going to need to happen for any of this to be possible, but let’s just say that the Miami Heat lose their second round series to the Indiana Pacers, a series that they now trail 2 games to 1 after getting blown out on the road tonight. I will be the first to admit that I did not see this coming, even with Chris Bosh out of the lineup. I thought that Lebron and D-Wade were good enough to beat the Pacers, a team without a superstar, by themselves. If the rest of the series is anything like game 3 was tonight, the Pacers should win pretty easily, and there may not even be a need for a 7th game.
If the Miami Heat were to go as far as the NBA finals and lose, people would be questioning them as they did last year when they lost to Dallas. If they lost in the second round to a much less talented Indiana team, chaos would ensue. The franchise will move from “we need to win a championship now” mode into complete panic mode and they will be forced to make some kind of a move. So let’s look at their players’ salaries and think about what that move can be. This team has many bad contracts that other teams will not want. Shane Battier is owed over $6 million over the next two seasons, and he appears to be nearing the end of his career this season. His defense is not nearly as strong as it had been in years past and his shots have not been falling. Joel Anthony is owed nearly $8 million over the next two seasons, and he is barely better than Johan Petro. Udonis Haslem is owed over $8 million over the next two seasons, and he is nearly 32 years old and his best years are behind him. Mike Miller is owed $12 million over the next two seasons, and he has proven this year to be overrated. No team would want any of those contracts because they are all for too much money and too many years. So who else can Miami trade to free up some cap space and get a fresh start at a championship run? One of the Big 3.
I will examine the possibility of trading all three players: Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Lebron James.
Chris Bosh has had a very interesting couple of years since coming to Miami. I have always been a big Bosh fan since his days in Toronto when he burned the Nets on many occasions and I was hoping that he would pick the Nets in free agency, even though the Nets were nowhere to be found on his list of teams. Since arriving in Miami, Bosh has taken harsh criticism for being soft, uncaring, and overrated. However, since his injury in game 1 of the Indiana series, the Heat have struggled mightily, and Bosh may be the glue to that team. If the Heat were to lose in the second round, I would not expect Bosh to be traded for that reason. He is not a ball hog and he is not the reason why the team is struggling. The guy can fit into nearly any offense and doesn’t have to score, although he can score if scoring is needed. Also, I’m not sure if another team will want his contract, as it has a possibility of lasting until 2016 with Bosh owed about $20 million every year. I expect Chris Bosh to remain in Miami next year.
Now we’re on to the bigger trade possibilities. I will start with Dwyane Wade. I do not see the Heat trading Wade. He was drafted by Miami and won a championship with them in 2006. The city loves him and I think he is the only player on the Miami Heat (maybe Udonis Haslem, too) that actually has a connection with the city and people of Miami. Wade is a fan favorite and I think he wants to retire with Miami. In addition, I think he would be a better fit to play with Chris Bosh than Lebron James would. Before Lebron’s infamous “Decision”, Wade and Bosh were already planning on playing together in Miami whether Lebron joined them or not. I think them alone, along with Mario Chalmers and whoever they could get with Lebron’s money, could be a good enough team to go to the finals. If it was only Wade and Bosh, Bosh’s scoring and rebounding numbers would go way up and he would become the superstar that the Heat believed they were getting when they signed him.
Moving on to Lebron James, who, believe it or not, I think has the best chance of getting traded. Before Lebron signed with Miami, he had plenty of other teams that were courting him, including the Nets. He is also used to being the lone superstar during his time in Cleveland. The reason I think he is the least valuable to Miami is because I believe the Heat would think if they lost to Indiana that Lebron was slowing Wade down in crunch time. Before Lebron came to the Heat, Wade was one of the best closers in basketball. Also, Lebron really went to Miami in a business decision; he has no connection to the organization. He is not a fan favorite and he really wanted to go to Miami because he thought it would give him the best chance of winning a championship. If Miami loses in the second round, they may think that Lebron’s postseason mindset is hopeless, and their only chance of winning a championship would be to trade him and get valuable pieces in return.
One team that would be interested in acquiring the 3-time MVP would have to be the Brooklyn Nets. Before Lebron made the “Decision” and was being interviewed (or interviewing) possible teams, it was reported by many that the New Jersey and soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets appealed to Lebron because of the possibility of playing in a big market and because he is very good friends with Nets part-owner Jay Z. He of course ultimately chose South Beach, but he was intrigued by playing in Brooklyn. One difference between the situation then and now is that then, he would have had to “suffer” through 2 seasons in Newark before making the move to Brooklyn. If he came over now, the Brooklyn market would be all his and he would instantly become the most popular person in a borough of over 2.5 million people. He would also be in a situation similar to the situation he was in with Cleveland. He would be the lone superstar with a lot of role players around him. Lebron thrived in this situation, and may miss it now that he is taking all the criticism in Miami. He may want to go back to a “simpler” time where everything laid on his shoulders. He was comfortable while in Cleveland because he could do no wrong, and if he came to Brooklyn, a city just happy to have a basketball team, let alone the best player in the world, he would be at a similar comfort level.
So now let’s talk about what the Nets would have to give up for this trade to conceivably happen. As is important with almost every move the Brooklyn Nets can make, the Nets will need to land a top-3 pick in the NBA draft lottery (preferably the #1 pick, which is very unlikely). However, I’m sure that Miami would want more for the reigning MVP than just Anthony Davis, who could be an MVP in the future. In addition, they would want at least Brook Lopez, if not Deron Williams instead. Both are free agents, so this would have to be a sign-and-trade. If Miami wants Williams over Lopez, a big “if” would be if Deron wants to go to Miami. There is a strong possibility that he doesn’t want to play for the Heat, and if he wouldn’t agree to that, then the trade could never happen. If Miami thought that the combo of Williams, Wade, Bosh, and Davis (or another top-3 pick) would help them get towards their goal of a championship (and that looks like a pretty good team to me, complete with scoring (Wade), passing (Williams), and defense and rebounding (Davis)), I think they would make this trade. And it works out for the Nets, too, because Lebron is exactly the superstar they need to consistently make the playoffs and he can be a part of an exciting team that could become more popular than the New York Knicks in New York.
There are obviously tons and tons of “if’s” here, with the big ones being if the Heat lose to Indiana, if the Nets land a top-3 and preferably the top pick, if Deron Williams wants to go to Miami and if Miami wants him, and if Lebron wants to come to Brooklyn, but wouldn’t it be pretty cool to see Lebron James open up the Barclays Center? I sure think so.