The Miami Heat are in the heat of the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t focusing on NBA free agents — like the biggest catch on the open market, Carmelo Anthony. If Anthony were to join the Heat, there would need to be a ton of concessions, but they’d be the most feared team in basketball with their “Big Four.” Could it really happen?
FIRST THINGS FIRST
There are a lot of variables with this setup. First and foremost, Anthony would have to officially opt out of his last year with the New York Knicks and reportedly, he’s got until June 23 to do so. Then, the Heat can’t even have formal contact with him until July 1. That’s the first major hurdle. The second major hurdle is the fact that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would all have to exercise their early termination option, making them free agents.
If those two scenarios come to light, then the Heat could start finagling deals with the “Big Four” to make the money work. Each of the stars would have to take less than they’d make on the open market, but they’d be doing so because championships are more important to them. The idea that they’d potentially take $12-14 million each instead of the $20 million they’re all due is something we’re not used to seeing from professional athletes, but to be honest, it would be a breath of fresh air.
If the current Heat stars become free agents and Udonis Haslem picks up his $4.6 million option, that leaves the Heat with just Haslem, Chris Andersen and Norris Cole under contract. They’d have roughly $8 million in salary and nothing committed past the 2014-15 season. Assuming the four stars took $12 million each, the Heat would be at $56 million. The projected cap is $63.2 million, leaving the Heat $7 million or so (plus their mid-level exception) to fill out the roster. If you don’t think veterans would give a huge discount for the opportunity to play with that foursome, you’re crazy.
They’d have to talk to Ray Allen to see what his future holds, but they could definitely encourage Mario Chalmers, James Jones and Rashard Lewis to come back under very cheap deals. Let’s play fantasy GM and assume all of that happens with Chalmers taking a paycut ($2m) and Jones/Lewis staying at the minimum ($2.8m total). That would put the Heat at $60.8 million, with Allen’s contract in tow. Add in some other vets for the minimum and go after a legitimate point guard who wants to win a championship with the mid-level exception and you’ve got your 2014-15 NBA Champions.
STYLE OF PLAY
While building super teams sounds terrific in theory, they don’t always play out like that (see: Lakers, Gary Payton and Karl Malone years). For this Heat team, they’d literally have to turn James into Magic Johnson (not the worst thing in the world) and they’d have to push Bosh back over to the center position full-time.
Anthony is the kind of player who needs the ball in his hands early and often to be successful, but he also provides excellent rebounding for his position and he’s not afraid to take the big shot. James at the top with Wade on one wing, Anthony on the other, Bosh in the middle and Allen running through screens? It could work great if they all swallowed their egos and played team basketball (something we haven’t seen out of Anthony).
This is a rumor, though it’s been given a lot of publicity by ESPN and is being reported as a real possibility. Asking James or Wade to leave many millions on the table isn’t a huge stretch, considering they can make it up off the court. Bosh is the wrinkle here, as he doesn’t have the endorsements that the other two do. At the same time, he wants to win and knows that bringing one of the best scorers in the league to the team would be a huge win.
At the end of the day, I don’t see it happening. It’s hard to envision Anthony as a second fiddle to anyone and I can’t fathom Bosh leaving tens of millions on the table when he knows he can’t get that kind of money on the open market.