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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

LeBron Watch: The King, D-Wade, and Bosh Willing to Split Cash?

The talk of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh joining forces in 2011 is really starting to heat up — no pun intended.  Stephen A. Smith seems to have called it first on his radio show, so as fun as this would be to watch I’m almost hoping it doesn’t happen.  I’d hate for him to be able to say, “I told you so,” and I’m sure plenty of others are with me on that.

Sports by Brooks has drawn my attention to an Ira Winderman report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that claims the three superstars have gone so far as to discuss the financial shuffling that would need to take place in order for all three to be signed by the Miami Heat.  Winderman reports that a source has told him that the free agents are aware it may be impossible for the Heat to start them all out at the $16.6 million for their first season that the maximum contract would allow.  The source told Winderman that they have discussed a plan to “split the money up” if that’s what it takes to make it work.

As usual, we can’t be sure if this source is credible or even exists.  Plenty of reports are going to continue surfacing similar to this one, and in the end most of them will turn out to be untrue.  What we can be fairly sure of is that if James, Wade, and Bosh really do want to play together and consider themselves a package deal, they can find a way to make it work.  The NBA’s salary cap rules are the most complicated in professional sports but — as we saw with the Celtics three years ago — if a team is willing to shell out a significant amount in luxury taxes they can create a good amount of salary cap flexibility.

Let’s assume for a second this all turns out to be true and examine the good and the bad that could come of it:

The Good:  The good is fairly obvious, I would think.  LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh are three of the top-10 players in the Eastern Conference and they’d all be on one team.  At 28-years-old, Wade is the closest to turning 30, meaning there’s no reason to believe that if the three of them remained healthy and enjoyed their time together they couldn’t win five championships.  From a publicity perspective, the NBA would have a storyline to beat into the ground.  A league that seems to love it’s dynasties would almost certainly be getting one with these three sharing the court.  Depending on your perspective, that could fall under the good or the bad.

Although it doesn’t directly relate to us, I don’t see how all three players wouldn’t love playing in South Beach.  We probably don’t think it’s that important, but it is.  You don’t think LeBron is tempted by the prospect of spending his free time in one of the best celebrity hot-spots in the United States?  I’ve been to South Beach and I can tell you it’s the Hollywood of the east coast.  Sure, New York has a few solid selling points to throw at free agents, but in the modern era it’s tough to top what South Beach can offer a star athlete.  You may not think it will factor into their decision, but believe me when I say it will.

The Bad: The power in the Eastern Conference, and maybe even the entire NBA, would have the potential to become extremely concentrated.  Most fans don’t like seeing the same team winning over and over again, and I don’t see how any team but the Heat would make it to the Finals every year with a roster that boasts these three.

In addition, this would give LeBron James absolutely no excuse to not win multiple championships.  If he wants to have his name mentioned in the discussion of the greatest players of all time, he’d have to win at the VERY least two or three championships while the three are playing together.  On the flip side, he’ll have a ton of help and that doesn’t hold well for a player’s legacy.  We see it with every great player.  Most recently, critics have been all over Kobe Bryant saying he can’t win without Shaq.  He’s quieted those nay-sayers with two straight Shaq-less championships, but I’m still waiting for the inevitable “Kobe can’t win one without Shaq or Gasol” debate to start.

Heck, there were even some who said Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been able to win it without Scottie Pippen.  With all that in mind, how can LeBron ever expect to be given the credit he deserves for winning a championship?  Does that matter in the long run?  I’m not sure.  Right now LeBron has zero rings, so breaking the seal is most important.  If he starts racking them up, will people telling him he can’t win one without Bosh or Wade get under his skin?  Eh, probably not.  It certainly didn’t seem to bother Kobe.

Sources:
Source: Wade, James and Bosh have talked of splitting Heat cash [Sun Sentinel]
Wade, James, Bosh: “talked of splitting Heat cash” [Sports by Brooks]



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