The Miami Heat exercised their team option on Mario Chalmers with every intention to retain him as their starting point guard. One season later, Chalmers has expressed his interest in free agency, with the Houston Rockets emerging as an interested party.
Hopefully that interest has declined in the wake of Chalmers’ poor recent play.
Typically, players who reach the NBA Finals see a rise in their personal stock. Upon at the least a decent showing in the postseason, these players usually garner the interest of other NBA teams. Once they become free agents, everyone’s in a frenzy to sign them to their respective teams.
That won’t be the case for Mario Chalmers, who’s playing himself not only out of the NBA Finals, but also possibly out of the NBA limelight.
The point guard free agent market will be rich this summer with teams looking to acquire players like Rajon Rondo, Eric Bledsoe, Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas, Shaun Livingston and, of course, Chalmers. Although the Rockets may seek to create a “big three” by upgrading at small forward, and while an upgrade at point guard is necessary to push forward – Chalmers isn’t the right fit.
The dark cloud that is his 14 points in four contests against the San Antonio Spurs has overshadowed Chalmers’ search for a payday next season. For a team with heightened ambition, that’s gloomy weather the Rockets will need to avoid.
Every acquisition made needs to move the Rockets forward. Adding Chalmers to any team that’s looking to compete for a Larry O’Brien Trophy will place the franchise gear in neutral.
There will be a handful of teams that will believe that Chalmers’ catatonic state in the Finals is a fluke and that he has much to contribute. Perhaps they’re right, however on a much smaller scale, and under dimmer lights. The Houston Rockets don’t want to share similar sentiment, regardless whether Jeremy Lin is in a Rockets uniform next season or not.
The Miami Heat’s meltdown isn’t Chalmers fault. He’s a miniscule piece of a built-to-be-great machine that’s simply malfunctioning in its most inopportune time. It serves as a precautionary tale for the Rockets.
A player with an inability to elevate his play during the final games of the year before winning a possible championship must be relegated to a below .500 team. In a sense it’s a league demotion. It says that a player is able to put up buckets in the regular season, but loses his confidence and natural abilities under the increased pressure that a deep playoffs run brings.
While Patrick Beverley might not be the best starting option and Lin is most likely to be moved via trade, bringing in players who don’t thrive with the league’s best player is a horrible idea.
Granted the idea of a team securing a “big three” is to remove any pressure from its role players, but that hasn’t stopped players like the Heat’s Ray Allen or Norris Cole, who haven’t had an amazing Finals, but are far from the disaster that is Chalmers.
With a career average of 9.8 points and 4.9 assists, Chalmers’ sub-par play in crunch time removes the “serviceable” tag from his range of play. For a team that’s on the verge of championship contention, signing a player who has virtually disappeared in the most crucial time of a team’s season isn’t ideal.
Without Chalmers in consideration for the Rockets, they’re still in a good place. They’ve played great basketball with Lin and Beverley sharing starters minutes, and Daryl Morey might have to entertain the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” method.
Either way when a team is on the verge of greatness – as is the Rockets, they must be careful of each player addition. Hopefully the reports of their interest in Chalmers die faster than the Heat’s short-lived NBA finals appearance.