TNT analyst Charles Barkley is known for making bold statements about the NBA, and his recent hot takes may be tough for fans of the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls to hear. They have both underperformed this season, and while there may be some extenuating circumstances, neither team appears equipped to win a championship at the moment.
Three seasons removed from making the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat appear to finally be losing their flame. They are currently 12–14 and have battled through a remarkable number of injuries just to get up to that point. Their poor start could be blamed on those injuries, but they may simply not have enough gas left in the tank.
Should the Miami Heat blow it up?
"“It might be time to break the team up and start over. They got some contracts that’s like … they’re no good. So, they need to start over,” Barkley said."
It is true that they need some help, i.e., a starting power forward and improving their bench, plus a couple of bad contracts that could potentially hamstring them. Take Kyle Lowry. He’s 36 and already has plenty of mileage on his legs. Lowry’s also logging over 36 minutes per game this season, and that’s seemingly catching up to him given his inconsistent play.
That definitely hurts the Heat since they’re paying him $28.3 million this season and 29.6 million next season. They also have what one NBA executive labeled as the worst contract in the league with Duncan Robinson’s 5-year, $90 million deal.
He is in the midst of the second-worst season of his career and still has three years and $57 million remaining. At the moment, no other team will likely touch that contract, barring the Heat giving up a first-round pick or two to rid themselves of him.
Butler is also 33 and, like Lowry, has plenty of mileage, casting doubt on how long he can keep playing at an all-star level. They do have Adebayo and Herro as building blocks and are well known for finding diamonds in the rough, but they may need to take a couple of steps back before taking several steps forward.
The Chicago Bulls are in a similar situation.
As for the Chicago Bulls, they’ve also struggled in a crowded Eastern Conference, going just 10-14. In fact, rumors have swirled that they could trade at least two of their All-Stars, and Barkley agrees with the idea.
"“Yes, blow it up. It’s time. You know you got some good players. You’re not good enough. It’s time to start the rebuild,” Barkley said."
Tanking could allow them to keep their top-four protected lottery pick, which otherwise would go to the Orlando Magic. That gives them plenty of incentive to do so considering that the team with the fourth-worst record still has an 11.5% chance of getting the first pick in the 2023 NBA draft. It would also give them an 11.4% chance at the second pick and a 45.1% overall chance of keeping their pick out of Orlando’s hands.
After winning 46 games a year ago and despite having Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls don’t seem like a contender at the moment. Worse yet, they don’t seem like a play-in team either. If they are going to miss the playoffs anyway, it behooves them to be as bad as possible, and they can only accomplish that by tanking.
Ultimately, Barkley’s comments about the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls needing to rebuild are probably accurate. Despite that, it’s easier said than done, and both the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls may continue to try and compete instead of blowing it up.