Cleveland’s biggest basketball-related mistake in the summer of 2010, in the weeks following LeBron James’ departure, was acting as if LeBron James hadn’t departed at all. The team’s then-general manager Chris Grant, in his first year on the job, hired a win-now coach in Byron Scott, decided against trading away older players who served little purpose on a James-less team, dealt for Ramon Sessions, and went into 2010-11 fully expecting to make the playoffs.
Which was daft, as we found out. The Cavs struggled to a 19-win season, and the team hasn’t sniffed a .500 record since despite repeated strikes of great luck (three top overall picks, the amnesty provision that made the partial-year rental of Baron Davis no big deal).
Miami isn’t in as bad a position as Cleveland was, as it waves goodbye to LeBron, what with a capable personnel boss in Pat Riley in charge and scads of immediately available cap room alongside a pristine South Beach setting. Frighteningly, though, the Heat may be working through the same bit of post-LBJ denial that Cleveland suffered its way through. The Heat are bringing back free-agent forward Chris Bosh, but is this the right way to start things over?
Bosh will make $118 million over five years in his massive new contract, holding off a Houston Rockets team that moved heaven (Jeremy Lin) and earth (Omer Asik) to clear cap space. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news that the Heat will pay Bosh an average of over $23 million a year until he’s 35 years of age.
Bosh’s game figures to age well. He’s a long, cerebral player with standout gifts on both sides of the ball, and an increased offensive workload in a James-less era will remind NBA fans of why he was so coveted in 2010 after putting up monstrous stats for the Toronto Raptors for seven seasons. For the majority of this contract, health-willing, Bosh will probably be worth this price.
Though the Heat are not going back to the Finals any time soon, it’s understandable why Chris would choose Miami over Houston. Even though Bosh is originally from Texas, he and his young family have called Miami home for four years, he was given the security of a fifth year in Miami, and $118 million is $118 bleedin’ million.
The Heat and Dwyane Wade are working on a free-agent deal, but it’s still unclear as to how much of that nearly $42 million that Wade opted out of earlier this offseason he’ll get back. Beyond that, the Heat will still have heaps of cap space to fill James’ position, if not shoes, with a Luol Deng or Trevor-Ariza type.
But … for what? Even in the East, where is that team going?
This is well trod-upon ground, but this is a weak free-agent class once you get past that upper crust of stars, and then someone like Deng – who is one of the older 29-year-olds in NBA history. We’re not suggesting that Miami should have completely started over by hoarding cap space and draft picks in response to James’ free agent turn – again, this team is not in the same boat that Cleveland was working out of in 2010 – but this is commitment to the “pretty good,” rather than going for an all-out rebuild.
Perhaps things can be structured in a way that Bosh and perhaps Wade’s supporting cast can live on year to year deals, which could allow Riley to lure a star free agent in the summers of 2015 or 2016, but even LeBron James in his prime wasn’t able to guarantee a yearly championship while working alongside Bosh and Wade. And he certainly decided on Friday that there was no way in hell he was going to be able to do the same with a 2015 and 2016-version of Bosh and Wade.
Pat Riley and Chris Bosh technically had choices here, but with terms like these (for Bosh) and situations like this (with Riley) there really was no choice.
The choice is understandable. Is it the right move for either side, moving forward?
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