The Heat Is On: Should Miami Look To Trade Lebron?

Posted: November 29, 2010 in NBA
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See this article with photos on Bleacher Report

The Miami Heat, the team that many people had pegged as possibly the greatest of all time, is about a quarter of way through the season and hovering around .500 at 9-8.  All the projections of a 60 or even 70 win season now look absurd.  In fact, at their current rate, the Miami Thrice are on pace for about 43 wins, or just barely above mediocre for those keeping track at home.

Chris Bosh has been exposed as the great softie he has always been playing in the media black hole of Toronto.  Dwayne Wade has been beset by nagging injuries and inconsistent play.  Lebron James wants to be a point guard but has no idea how to run an offense where he isn’t the first, second and third options.  Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem, the fourth and fifth best players on the team, are down for long stretches with injury.  And now, the players seem to be turning on coach Erik Spoelstra.  Do you suppose the Knicks might be having second thoughts about duplicating the whole “superteam” proposition?

James, who has been critical of Spoelstra’s playing time allotment  (Do you recall Michael Jordan ever complaining about playing too many minutes, especially when his team needs those minutes to win games?) now has physically bumped his coach on the sidelines during their recent loss to Dallas.  Couple this with a recent report by ESPN that Spoelstra actually called The King out in front of the entire team, telling him he needs to be more serious.  Imagine the audacity of this guy, expecting his transcendent superstar to actually bring the intensity and focus to the game.  No wonder a rift is forming.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  These three guys were arrogant enough to manipulate the entire league to create this unholy triumverate in the first place.  Should it be unreasonable to expect that they also will want to decide who gets to be the coach?  And what about personnel moves?  As the season goes on and roster changes need to be made, as they obviously are here, will Pat Riley have to clear his transactions with his on-court board of directors?

So how to fix this mess?  Honestly, without a trade of one of the big three, I don’t think they can.  The Heat have major flaws in design that can’t be fixed without an infusion of three or four new faces, and thats not going to happen with the roster of leftovers the Heat have assembled around their three stars.  As blasphemous as it sounds, might it be time to consider a blockbuster trade?  And by blockbuster, I mean really big.  If I was Pat Riley, I’d be shopping Lebron James right now.   From a basketball sense, I’d rather move Wade because of his injury history, but he also knows how to win big games and over-achieve, skills Lebron hasn’t yet mastered.  Bosh, soft as his is, I would keep, simply because any return for Lebron has to include interior muscle that can put Bosh back where he belongs instead of banging down low where he’s uniquely unsuited.  Plus because of James’ media exposure,

The fact is that this team has no interior presence at all.  Haslem is an undersized dynamo, but he’s aging and he can’t handle the full load.  When Eric Dampier is your savior, you’re in trouble.  Just ask Dirk Nowitzki.  Dampier’s debut game against Dallas, by the way, 8 minutes, 0 points, 0 blocks, 1 rebound.  Helluva player, there.  Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a jump shooter at this point in his career.  Juwon Hioward?  Joel Anthony?  Seriously?  And that says nothing for the totally barren point guard spot.

No, without a major roster shift, these guys are going nowhere.  James and Wade are basically the same player; ball dominating slashers with sometimes suspect jump shots.  For a team with so many holes to fill, to have a redundancy this large is absurd.  And just tell me that Miami couldn’t flip Lebron for a package of players good enough to turn a big-two based unit with Wade and Bosh into instant title contenders?

Maybe there is a reason why no one has ever had three max players together at the same time.  Maybe there is a little something to the fact that you need more than three guys to be a champion, and spending 95% of your cap space for a quarter of your roster doesn’t really leave much to pay for the other 75% of your team.  And, as Riley is about to find out, it doesn’t give you any room to maneuver in terms of trades, either.  Turn Lebron’s contract into four smaller contracts, and all of a sudden you have a much deeper roster still built around two superstars, and more felxibility to tinker.

If Miami really wants to turn this into a title or two, one of the Big Three has to go.  I’m voting for showing Lebron the door before this mess gets even bigger.

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