Pros and Cons of Miami Heat Trading Chris Bosh During 2013 Offseason
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That question has been bouncing around since the Heat won their second consecutive NBA championship. Right off the bat, that fact seems counterintuitive; why trade a Big Three member at the height of a dynasty?
However, the supposed star forward was often a major disappointment during the 2013 postseason. He became a glorified role player in terms of production as well as responsibility, to the point that his poor play eventually became commonplace.
So should the Heat look to maintain what they have, or do they look to improve on Bosh? The answer is more convoluted than you might think.
Con: Weak Interior Defense
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Time and time again during the postseason, Bosh was routinely beaten inside when he tried to play post defense.
That's a necessary skill for the Heat's man in the middle if the team plans playing small-ball.
In order to put the most talent on the floor, Miami must shift LeBron James and Bosh down to power forward and center, respectively. However, his 235-pound frame is too thin to keep scoring bigs away from the rim, and opposing centers can easily seal him to open the lane for slashing teammates.
When Bosh simply can't stand up as the lone big man on the floor, the backup plans are not ideal.
Udonis Haslem is only 6'8". Chris Andersen will be 34 next season and actually weighs less than Bosh. Joel Anthony lacks the height to check seven-footers and the ability to do much more than take up space.
Pro: Effective Pick-and-Roll D
While Bosh's bulk is an issue, his mobility is a great strength.
To compensate for their size disadvantage, the Heat pressure the ball-handler heavily off the pick-and roll. In order to do so, Miami needs its forwards to be able to contain opposing guards out beyond the arc in order to prevent penetration.
Bosh excels in this area, using his length, quickness and instincts to stop pick-and-roll plays before they can develop. If the opposing point guard is consistently getting bottled up and turning the ball over, then Miami's lackluster rim protection doesn't hurt so much.
Conventional wisdom says Miami should look for a better post defender, but he likely wouldn't be able to execute the Heat trap as well as Bosh.
Con: Declining Post Scoring
Bosh's time as a great interior scorer has passed him by, leaving Miami without a big to operate in the low post.
It's not just that LeBron is taking the lion's share of touches on the block; that limits his teammate's output, not his skill. Rather, the aging process has caught up with Bosh, preventing the forward from battling down low the way he used to.
Though he was never one to overpower his man en route to the rim, Bosh now struggles to simply hold his positioning. Good interior defenders know they can neutralize him by forcing him away from the basket; Bosh can't capitalize on his agility when he keeps moving backwards.
Of course, James is an elite threat inside, but Bosh's inability to contribute there limits how much production he can provide.
Pro: Floor-Spacing Ability
Since he's only his team's second post-up option, Bosh must be able to contribute with his jumper.
Fortunately, he is superb from mid-range, which helps clear the lane for LeBron by pulling his man away from the rim.
Per Hoopdata, the Heat's ostensible starting center knocked down an absurd 53 percent of his attempts from between 16 and 23 feet from the basket. Considering he hit at less than 33 percent from 10-to-15 feet, that confirms how effective Bosh is as a spot-up shooter in space.
Even if he can't finish at the rim the way he used to, he allows his superior teammate to do so. That still gives Bosh value within the Heat offense.
Despite the pros, there's no way Bosh's performance warrants the amount he is getting paid.
He will make just over $19 million in 2013-14, with player options for the next two seasons worth $20.6 million and $22.1 million, respectively.
This for a player whose 16.6 points per game last year was the lowest average since his rookie season. His 6.8 rebounds also were a career low.
Those are still very respectable numbers, especially considering his defensive ability. But Bosh is overextended as a defender on this team, and while efficient, he is no longer effective enough on the offensive end to earn his near-max deal.
The Heat were pushed to the brink in 2013. Next season, the league will be tougher and Miami will be older. Trading Bosh and his massive contract for an actual star-caliber player might be necessary to pull off the three-peat.
Pro: Knows His Role
That said, there is always the risk of messing up the chemistry if Miami makes such a major personnel change.
While Bosh is no longer on the same level as James or Dwyane Wade, he also knows he is a supporting player on this team. He has lost the glory of individual stardom, but he has two rings to ease the pain and then some.
So he'll keep hounding opposing guards and taking his shots outside the paint because that's what the Heat need him to do. Even if Miami replaced him with a superior talent, a new player might not fit in as well with James, Wade and company.
That doesn't mean the Heat will necessarily be in better position to win with Bosh. But that the reward of trading him for a better player comes with risk as well.