Why Nobody Should Expect Miami Heat to Break Up Big 3 of LeBron, Wade and Bosh
Wade probably isn't going anywhere, and at least for now, the two superstars he recruited to join the Miami Heat in 2010 are staying put as well.
Following Miami's second NBA championship in as many seasons, the temptation to break up the biggest of Big Threes has never seemed more appealing.
Wade's body isn't recovering as quickly from his relentless (reckless) rim attacks and is breaking down more frequently. He had to have his knee drained prior to Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs and closed out the postseason averaging a career-playoff low in points per game (15.9).
After having his knee drained, he managed to notch 23 points and 10 rebounds on 11-of-21 shooting in what was a vintage Wade performance, but those efforts have never seemed more uncertain than they are now.
Surgery hasn't been completely ruled out over the offseason, leaving Wade and the Heat to cross their collective fingers in hopes that he doesn't have to go under the knife again.
Avoiding any additional procedures is really only half the battle with Wade, though. No longer is it a question of if he will succumb to the rigors of the NBA season, but rather when he will be sidelined and/or forced to play through an exorbitant amount of pain.
Ten years into his career, Wade has yet to play an entire season without missing a game. He's missed 10 or fewer regular-season contests five times, but those 82 successive appearances in the same season have proved far more elusive than a championship ring (he has three).
As he approaches 32 years old, there's no reason to believe his injuries are going to become scarce or any less of an issue. Suffering will become more common than it already is, and Wade may wind up pining for the days when draining his knee was the most pressing of his concerns.
Then there's Bosh to consider, as if Wade's age and health issues weren't enough.
Bosh grabbed the most important offensive rebound of his career in Game 6 of the finals, giving the Heat one last opportunity to keep their season alive. He found Ray Allen, who connected on a right-corner three to tie the game. The Heat went on to win in overtime, then proceeded to outlast the Spurs in Game 7 to claim their second straight title.
Season-saving rebound aside, Bosh's postseason exploits weren't reminiscent of a perennial All-Star bringing in $17.5 million for a year's worth of work.
He too averaged a career-playoff low in points per night (12.1), and in the most pivotal game of the Big Three's existence—Game 7 against San Antonio—Bosh was held scoreless and committed five fouls in 28 minutes of action.
Aside from Bosh, the last five players to be tagged with at least five personal fouls while scoring no points in a playoff game were Andris Biedrins (2013), Daequan Cook (2013), Nick Collison (2013), Mickael Pietrus (2012) and Nazr Mohammed (2012).
Joining the company of Dampier and Luke Walton isn't what the Heat pay Bosh to do. He's in South Beach to be the most feared third option in the league, not play down to the level of someone who should spend more time riding the bench.
The good news? LeBron seems to be doing just fine.
He's three years into his tenure with Miami, and he has a pair of league and finals MVPs and two championships to show for his escape from Cleveland.
His most important sidekicks present no such relief and force us to wonder how much longer LeBron can successfully cover up their shortcomings.
Too often this past season The Chosen One was forced to revert back to his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He had to win games on his own, relying heavily on some combination of aging role players and relatively inexperienced reserves to provide him with the assistance he needed.
For those keeping score, that's exactly why LeBron came to the Heat in the first place—to avoid the exclusivity of carrying a team by himself. What transpired for a large portion of the postseason is enough to make him question his future in South Beach beyond next year.
Still, it's not enough to spark the dismantling of the Big Three. Not just yet.
Overcome with emotions immediately following the Heat's Game 7 victory, team president Pat Riley showed his hand, declaring that the franchise was prepared to surf this Big Three wave until they themselves were prepared to call it quits.
"I just want this thing to keep going," Riley said, according to Michael Wallace of ESPN.com. "I'm at an age now where I'm ready to just fly off somewhere. But I'm not going to because the Good Lord has blessed me with a team that's allowed me to grab onto its coattails for as long as they want to be together."
Unless the blatantly obvious tends to catch you off guard, you're not surprised.
Years of planning (and conspiring) weren't endured so the Heat could be dismembered on a whim. Or on the heels of a second consecutive title.
LeBron and Bosh were brought in alongside Wade to build a dynasty for the long haul. So long as that dynasty is still within reach, this version of the Big Three isn't going anywhere through next year, when they're all eligible to enter free agency.
To be sure, LeBron could walk into Riley's office tomorrow and ask for Bosh to be traded, and the Heat would oblige. The same could even go for Wade. If LeBron wanted him gone, Miami would at least have to listen. He's LeBron. Taking any special requests of his into consideration comes with the territory.
That's not going to happen, though. For one, this isn't the LeBron of 2007 or even 2010, who said and did what he wanted without any regard for the public repercussions to follow. Secondly, LeBron, Wade and Bosh are bros. And just as bros don't let other bros call an ex while they're inebriated and feeling particularly nostalgic, bros also don't demand fellow bros be dealt away from their team—with the exception being Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, of course.
Assuming Riley's infatuation with his current band of stars subsides after a roller-coaster championship campaign (it might) and he elects to start shopping any "superstar" not-named LeBron (he won't), undoing what he did merely three years ago makes little sense.
Fetching any talent in return for Bosh or Wade that makes the Heat better isn't really an option. The Charlotte Bobcats have reportedly entertained the idea of using the fourth overall pick in the draft to put together a package for Bosh, but it's an offer that doesn't suit the Heat at all.
If they trade Bosh, they're going to want proven, star-esque talent in return, and they're not going to get it. Not after the postseason Bosh had, and especially not when any interested team knows he has the option of rendering it the Toronto Raptors 2.0 after next season.
Miami is in the same boat with Wade. There isn't a team in the NBA that is going to compensate the Heat based off what Wade has done in the past. All anyone will see is an aging, deteriorating body that is liable to vanish at any given moment, even on the biggest of stages.
Substantially improving the roster while using Bosh or Wade as fodder isn't possible. Like it or not, Wade is past the point of his career when he's worth another All-Star in return, and a 29-year-old Bosh did nothing to prove he was any different.
Worrying about what's to come beyond next season is understandable. Realistically, the Heat could go from championship favorite to lottery-bound faction overnight. But there is nothing they can do about the future now. No deal they strike for Bosh or Wade will make next summer any less ambivalent or their next title defense any easier.
Knowing that, fiddling with the core this summer makes no sense. Had the Heat been sent packing in the first or second round (or even the Eastern Conference Finals), then perhaps there are moves they would have to consider making.
How much longer is Miami's current Big Three's championship window open for?
They just won a championship, though—after being down 3-2 and against the most difficult playoff opponent they've ever faced. This particular party in Miami isn't going to end to now.
Fretting over the summer of 2014 won't do any good. There's no need to lose sleep over the future of the Heat until they reach that juncture. To make any big moves now stands to damage the team's dynamic and create potential rifts within the locker room.
"If we can keep this group together for eight, nine, 10 years, we're all going to have some fun," Riley said before the Heat embarked on their second straight championship.
Moving past the fact that Riley clearly popped open a case (or 20) of bubbly much too early, sustaining this level of success with LeBron, Wade and Bosh for another decade isn't plausible. Something will eventually give. Someone will inevitably leave on their own accord or be traded away. It's going to happen.
Just not now.
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