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Plan B Defined

July 6th, 2010 1 comment
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There is no great Plan B for the Miami Heat. If they can’t maneuver to get a marquee free agent to join Dwyane Wade this summer, Wade will likely bolt for the Chicago Bulls and the power balance of the Eastern Conference will shift even further away from South Florida.

A title-contending team needs a future hall-of-fame talent through whom to run its offense. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s LeBron James. For the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s Kobe Bryant. For the Heat, it’s Wade. If Wade doesn’t re-sign, there’s simply no way to build a winner. It’d be a tear-down rebuild that could take a decade from which to recover.

But if we pretend Wade loves the Heat to such an extent that he’d consider a Plan B scenario, what would it look like?

James is the clear prize of a loaded free agent market. Chris Bosh is second. Both would be ideal. One would probably be enough to keep Wade happy. Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer are the only other possibilities around which a compelling storyline can be crafted. But if the Heat should strike out on all these names, however unlikely that may be, there may still be a path to future success.

The free agent market is considerably lacking in depth if the Heat strikes out on the headline names. In order to present him with a remotely compelling offer, the Heat would need to ferociously attack the trade market.

The good news is that the Heat has considerable assets with which to deal. To start the summer, the Heat will have eight first round draft picks over the next seven years – including a protected first round pick acquired from the Toronto Raptors in Shawn Marion-Jermaine O’Neal swap on February 13, 2009 – and a nearly full complement of second round picks. They’ll also have Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers to dangle, and the most cap room in the entire N.B.A. – a valuable commodity for teams in salary cap hell and looking to shed valuable contracts.

How do you build a championship roster?

You start with your superstar wing player, and you give him the space he needs to operate. Floor-spacing, both vertical and horizontal, is everything. That requires an athletic interior presence down low, and a bunch of multi-dimensional shooters.  Read more…

Tyson Chandler worth the risk?

June 15th, 2010 1 comment
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An eight-figure salary is something that most NBA players can only ever dream of achieving. It’s a goal right up there with winning a championship and customizing that new Ferrari in the driveway.

So it’s difficult to imagine that a player would voluntary sacrifice that kind of money when a similar payday does not appear to be on the horizon. But according to Chad Ford of ESPN TrueHoop, Tyson Chandler may be on the verge of doing just that:

A source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Bobcats big man Tyson Chandler is seriously considering exercising an early termination option on his contract this summer.

Now that the [injuries are] behind him, Chandler is looking to seize an opportunity. With so many teams under the luxury tax next season and only five or six top tier free agents out there, a number of teams are going to be left with lots of money to spend this summer. Not everyone can land LeBron or Dwyane Wade. The other thing working in Chandler’s favor is that there aren’t really any true centers in free agency this summer and a number of teams with cap space including the Thunder, Knicks, Timberwolves, Wizards and Heat need a center badly.

Pair those two factors together and Chandler could be in a for a big payday this summer. While it’s unlikely he can get a starting contract at $12.6 million per year, he should be able to snag a 4 or 5 year deal in the $10 million per year range.

I have suggested on several occasions that every potential free agent will be looking for a full value, full length contract this off-season. There is simply too much uncertainty surrounding the potential for gargantuan changes to come after the current collective bargaining agreement expires at the end of the coming season. Tyson is certainly among them.

A secondary player like Chandler would stand to lose a lot of money in 2011 if David Stern gets his way. If that’s the case, then locking in a long-term deal this summer could make some sense. But while opting out would make him an unrestricted free agent, it would also cause him to forfeit $12.6 million in guaranteed money. The risks are therefore considerable. Read more…

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Why LeBron James Should Consider the Miami Heat

May 28th, 2010 1 comment
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I’m not sure if you already know this, but the rumor is that LeBron James is thinking of leaving Cleveland, now that his contract with the Cavaliers is up.

Everyone from Jay-Z to Barack Obama is in on the act of recruiting him.

Speculation over where he’ll end up has run wild. In the past 24 hours, Vegas oddsmakers have increased Miami’s odds of landing James from 35-1 to 7.5-1. In a poll of six ESPN experts, two felt Miami was the most likely destination.

What was once thought to be the ridiculous bantering of the hopelessly delusional is now a potential reality. A combination of Wade, James and Bosh has to be intriguing, and it is possible.

Moving the contracts of Daequan Cook and Michael Beasley are the only things that stand in the way. And both should be quite easy to move. You’d have to think a team would be willing to take on Cook’s expiring $2.1 million contract for, say, up to $3.0 million in cash. As for Beasley, you’d have to think a team would be intrigued about the possibility of acquiring the troubled forward at no cost, and perhaps even surrender future draft considerations to the Heat in order to do so.

Still, the ultimate trio would seem unlikely. And, as surprising as this may sound, it may not even be in the Heat’s best interests.

With LeBron in the mix, entirely new scenarios open up.

If I were Riley, my recruiting pitch to LeBron would go something like this:

I would talk about the benefit of playing in an no-income-tax state like Florida, something that would be worth millions to James, whose off-court earnings dwarf his on-court salary. I would cover the weather, the beaches, the lifestyle, and all else the city has to offer. I would point to the rings on my finger. They are, after all, exactly what he wants. I would point to Micky Arison, the multi-billionaire owner willing to spend whatever it takes to make it happen.

But my focus would be on building a dynasty. Read more…