After NBA Finals Game 4 Rout, LeBron’s Best Move Is To Leave Heat
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
With the “Big Four” rumors circulating earlier this week, yesterday I detailed why Carmelo Anthony joining up with LeBron James with the Miami Heat would only lead to more criticism.
After Game 4 of the NBA Finals, doesn’t the grass look greener elsewhere?
The original reports suggested the ‘Melo and LeBron want to play together, and Miami wasn’t the only option — so was New York.
If LeBron wants to continue to compete for championships, he’ll need to find a better roster than the one currently assembled in South Beach. As Game 4 illustrated, there is no Big Three these days. There’s a significant drop-off after James.
Dwyane Wade is a shell of his former self. He made three field goals last night, showing that all of the injuries have truly taken a toll on him. Chris Bosh is a superb role player, but he’s as inconsistent as they come. Ray Allen will be a 39 by the start of the 2014-15 season. Shane Battier is retiring and what reason is there for Pat Riley to bring back Mario Chalmers?
The Heat need to be plucked apart and reassembled, and next season they won’t be the NBA title contenders they were expected to be next year. In fact, in these playoffs, the Miami Heat resemble one of LeBron’s former Cavaliers teams, where it’s LeBron then everybody else, and they rely on James to shoulder the load and single-handedly will them to victory.
LeBron James should opt of his current contract and become a free agent — if his intention is still to win championships. He needs a new sidekick. He needs more capable role players. He needs to be the best player in basketball, but not have to do it all himself.
The Knicks should be an option. They can afford to pay both him and Anthony, and surround the team with a cast of characters like Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. All of a sudden, Anthony is LeBron’s new Robin, a more capable secondary scorer that forces defenses to account for both elite scorers. Smith and Hardaway are the wing players that need be at the 3-point arc in case Bron passes, and Chandler would be the center LeBron never had with the Heat.
There are other destinations that would better suit James, too. The Los Angeles Lakers have a lot of cap space to work with. They can bring in some free agents to create an adequate supporting case, but LeBron would be betting on a healthy Kobe Bryant to be his sidekick. That is a risky bet, though, because Kobe hasn’t been Kobe in two years now. And there would be more uncertainty with the roster if and when Bryant hangs up his cleats.
It’s a similar situation in Chicago, where James could team up with Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler, but hope that Derrick Rose returns to being the MVP-caliber point guard he was when he was healthy.
There’s also Plan B: remaining in Miami and putting your faith in Pat Riley is put together another championship-caliber roster. Sure, it’s easy to trust Riley. He put together a team that is coming off of back-to-back titles. But he had an ace up his sleeve in Wade at the time, and all he needed to do was recruit Bosh out of Toronto and tell him he’d have a chance to play alongside Wade and LeBron. This go-round it’ll take a lot more out of Riley, and he’ll have to start from scratch.
Of course, it’s still premature to think about any sort of scenario just yet. The NBA Finals are not over, yet. There’s a Game 5 to be played Sunday, and if the Spurs come out victorious, we can then turn our attention to LeBron’s contract situation and that of other NBA stars this summer. How the puzzle pieces fall into place — that remains to be seen — but this offseason will go a long in way in determining how many more titles LeBron can win.