Oh, happy day. The city of Miami and the players of the Heat are all celebrating, and for good reason. The team just won the 2012 NBA Finals in only their second year together, LeBron James seems to be entering that extra special phase of his career everyone was waiting for (and he’s still only 27) and they just bolstered their backcourt talent and depth with the signing of Ray Allen.
Everything seems perfect. A little too perfect, in fact.
The Miami Heat will be looking to win back-to-back titles next season, and the only way to win multiple championships is to never get too complacent. In order to stay away from that evil, one of two things must happen.
Option one is to keep the same hunger and fire lit under them that they experienced all of the 2012 season after a disappointing Finals loss to Dallas the year prior.
Option two is to shake things up. Assuming that hunger will be difficult to keep at the same level after finally winning that elusive title (we all saw how Dallas backtracked this year), the best way to guarantee another title is to improve the roster.
Right from day one after LeBron decided to take his talents to South Beach, the biggest question surrounding this team was, “How will LeBron and Dwyane Wade coexist together?” This question wasn’t directed at how two big egos could share the ‘alpha dog’ role, but at the quandary of how two superstars so similar in style could learn to both maximize their talents in the same game. They both dominate the ball and are best going to the basket, so naturally running a play that makes the defense have to worry about both of them is difficult.
They never figured it out in 2011, which came back to bite them in the Finals. And this year, apart from a three-game stretch against Indiana, they still never found a way to play as well together as you would want from your two best players.
The only difference between this year and last was that LeBron decided to stop worrying about how they play together and just took over himself. Given how that turned out, this has to be the way of the future for this Heat team.
So really, if the sum between the two is less than the individual parts, shouldn’t you get rid of one of those pieces that would make the sum greater than the individuals?
Seeing as LeBron is the better of the two, being less injury prone and younger, Wade is the one that needs to go.
Part of the reason Wade is so successful is because how hard he plays. He constantly dives on the floor for loose balls, attacks the rim fearlessly and just goes at every part of the game at 110 percent. This is a great attribute for an athlete to have, but it catches up quickly. Wade has always been injury prone, mostly because of this reckless style. He now has to have knee surgery this summer to fix a nagging injury that’s been hurting him for who knows how long.
His play is also slipping a bit now that he’s 30 and sacrificed his body so much over his career.
In the 2012 playoffs, he got progressively less efficient as the fatigue wore on him more and more. His field goal percentages in each series went from 50.6 to 47.2 to 44.4 to 43.5. During the regular season, he scored the fewest amount of points since his rookie year. He’s going to turn 31 next year, and those numbers will only continue to decline.
So, who should they trade him to, and for what?
First, let’s look at the Heat’s needs. They’re set at point guard and power forward for the foreseeable future, but their wing players are all getting pretty old (except for LeBron of course), and their centers are seriously lacking in talent.
So, I’d say a center that can protect the rim and grab some rebounds, along with a young, athletic wing player that can knock down threes would be ideal for this team.
What team has both of those and is not in rebuilding mode?
Answer: The Denver Nuggets.
My proposed trade: JaVale McGee, Arron Afflalo, and Corey Brewer for Dwyane Wade. (Note: For McGee, it would have to be a sign-and-trade, since he’s a restricted free agent. It sounds like Denver plans on resigning him.)
I believe this is a great trade for both sides. Denver is a team who shared a weakness with the Pacers and 76ers of too much depth and not enough star power. With this trade, they gain a superstar and lose three rotational players that usually weren’t on the court for them in crunch time situations anyways.
On Miami’s side, they gain three athletic youngsters, who are all really good defenders. That fits perfectly into their defensive, fast-break scheme.
Afflalo is a very underrated scorer and great three point shooter. He could thrive as a number two or three scoring option on a championship team.
McGee is very raw, but he’s an instant offensive upgrade over anything Miami has now since he can at least catch a ball and is an insane dunker.
A veteran team like Miami that knows how to win would be the perfect place for him to mature and blossom into one of the league’s best centers. Plus, he would be a great fit if Miami meets any powerhouse that Dwight Howard might get traded to, or if the Lakers make it to the Finals. McGee played Andrew Bynum very well in the first round of this year’s playoffs.
The bottom line is that assets do depreciate. Wade’s value will only go down from here as he ages and suffers through more injuries. The Heat should act now to get as much out of him as possible. That would allow Ray Allen to start, provide insurance for the always-injured Mike Miller and the smart-and-crafty-but-still-getting-up-there-in-age Shane Battier, strengthen their greatest weakness by nabbing an actual center, and make them younger and more athletic.
I know, it would be a jerk move to trade Wade. He’s played for the Heat his whole career, won Miami a championship before the arrival of LeBron and Chris Bosh, and convinced those two and Udonis Haslem to play in Miami for less than what they’re worth.
But this is a business, and the business is all about wins. Trading Wade for Afflalo, Brewer and McGee would give them a much better team for the future if they really want to win not one, not two, not three, not four…
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