NBA Free Agency: Beware, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh
Thank you Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations! Without you it is unlikely that this would be possible.
The opportunity exists for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh to join forces and form the core of a Heat Wave in Miami.
In my humble, opinion they should take it and let the fans enjoy the show. The potential benefits outweigh the potential losses and it would be a high value marketing sensation.
Imagine if Carmelo Anthony's agent had encouraged him to sign a shorter contract. (Carmelo did think about that. He fired his agent.)
The fans can start the Heat Wave in the stands, but this seems like it could be too good to be true.
Heat Wave: Why Should They Do It?
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, on their present course, are locks to be Future Hall of Fame inductees as it is. LeBron has already won back-to-back league MVP awards and Wade has already one Finals MVP and one of the most remarkable NBA Finals and Playoff performances in recent history.
With Chris Bosh the ceiling is high, but he has more to prove and and more hurdles to clear (like many big men). Playing in a highly successful program as a key contributor would virtually guarantee him a Hall of Fame induction without the requirement to win an MVP - and, considering the competition, he will most likely retire without an MVP trophy.
Each one of these players, while on separate teams represents an obstacle to the success of the other. As long as they are on different teams they are trying to share a pie with limited slices. And, there are some other players in the league that represent significant threats as well.
Championships: Chips Matter
James, Wade, and Bosh have no guarantee a championship on any team that they sign with. And, if they sign separately, they are only making their competition better. There should be little doubt that D-Wade will have an excellent team in Miami with or without them.
In fact, without them the team that Riley assembles in Miami will most likely have more depth. This means the competition to get out the Eastern Conference will be stern.
Injuries and cohesion (contrary to rumors, basketball is a team sport) are major factors. I'm pretty sure that Mr. James would have been quite happy to have a teammate carry Cavaliers for a couple games while his elbow recouped in the Celtics series this year and the Celtics would have loved to have Kendrick Perkins for Game 7 against the Lakers.
The 2010 Los Angeles Lakers are still alive and well. In case you ain't heard: Kobe ain't dead yet – learn from that (yeah, I said it). This team could actually be better next year and already knows it can win championships.
The Orlando Magic are a really good team and the Lakers might have been fortunate to get the Celtics in the finals. Dwight Howard can absolutely be the centerpiece of a championship team. Expect Orlando to stay in the mix. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, or Deron Williams could be lured into playing alongside a legitimate big man.
There are still significant threats out there. James, Wade, and Bosh undoubtedly have considered the downside of being on opposing teams.
On the Court: Would it Work on Offense?
LBJ, D-Wade, and CB4 would immediately represent a formidable combination almost without regard to the pieces that are assigned to play with them.
Basketball games involve a limited number of shots and the team would have the best starting five in the league assuming that the other two starters were not complete stiffs.
The hard part will be acquiring complementary players that can make the primary scoring threats more efficient scorers.
There is a 24 second shot clock and there is a only one ball.
This unit would be better served by a tweener guard that has range and a lot of defensive ability. There is no real benefit with this group of having another guy who wants to dribble around a lot to impress the crowd and this team really would have little use for a center that was clogging lane calling for the ball.
Set LeBron at the point forward (Magic played point – worked out pretty good for him), Wade as the off guard (and can share point responsibilities), Bosh at the power forward grab a serviceable defensive and an offensive rebounding center that can hit 12 foot jumpers, and forget bringing in a traditional point guard. Keep Beasley and bring him off the bench to spell the 3 and 4 positions (unless you can traded him for a decent big). This is a high screen pick and roll set up all day. This is one scenario.
Another is to get a traditional point guard and keep LeBron at the small forward. It just seems to me that this crowds the lane too much and makes it take longer to get the offense started. With LeBron bringing the ball up the opposing defense has to cheat off someone once he gets past the hash marks, with a traditional point the entire defense stays home to play denial defense (well, at least they do that defense thing in college.) And, LeBron creates a bigger might be a better passer than Wade – this would also create some matchup problems for opposing teams.
However, it would work out at the end of the day two or three of them would have to sacrifice some offense and limit the amount of time they spend pounding the ball on the hardwood. Three volume shooters are very difficult to accommodate, unless one of them is a sixth man.
Again: There is a 24 second shot clock and there is only one ball.
On the Court: Would it Work on Defense?
Defense does wins championships and this team should be able to score and defend well enough to stay out of a lot close games.
The key is to find a decent defensive committed big and a few other players that don't simply get torched. This team would be outstanding defending 2-4 and less prone to getting torched in pick and role mismatches, while wreaking havoc on passing lanes.
With decent defense they should able to put most teams in the league away by the mid point of the third quarter.
My First Thought is: C'mon it's the NBA. No one cares about defense do they?
Role Players: HELP WANTED!
Well, the could probably go through most of the season using 10-day contracts for the rest of the roster, right?
With a core composed of these three players, the second and the third season would be the most interesting, because they would have more time to flesh out a a roster of complements.
A first year group would essentially be an entirely new team - developing bench and roles will be a significant challenge.
Off the Court: Getting Beyond The Simple Consumer Level
This basically means that most significant opportunities will be: Shoes, Clothing, Sporting Goods and Accessories, Trading Cards, Video Games, Health and Hygiene, and Food and Beverage products. These types of products are more or less “show and tell items” relatively simple products consumed and used by the individual household consumer.
LeBron and Wade already have substantial endorsement deals in this area.
LeBron already has endorsement contracts with Nike, Sprite, Glacéau, Bubblicious, Upper Deck, McDonald's and State Farm and Wade is getting love from Nike Jordan Brand, Gatorade, Lincoln, Staples, Sean John, T-Mobile and Topps.
Chris Bosh is probably the least marketable of the three, through some fault of his own. Regardless of where he goes leaving Toronto should serve to increase his marketability, if he wins. Of the three, the remuneration that he receives from his player contract with the team he signs for will represent a far greater portion of his total annual earnings.
These in and to themselves are massive and lucrative markets, yet there remains a much greater world.
Marketing Opportunities: Complex Products and Services
This is a stretch, but smart people do smart things. They should challenge there agents to do something extraordinary.
Very few athletes effectively transcend their sport and demonstrate consistent ability to endorse products that are outside of the typical fare that comes the way of young entertainers.
Marketing Agents for Product and Service Firms that are not typically seeking out athletes for endorsements would be running themselves over in Miami parking lots for years trying to get the members of the Big Three to endorse their product and service offerings.
Firms that sell the types of complex products and services that are developed and maintained in a team environment would salivate at the opportunity to have team players endorsing their offerings. Firms such as these tend to have a great deal of capital and have the good sense to take the long view on investment.
Examples that come to mind immediately: Financial Services, Shipping and Transportation, Logistics Technologies, Construction, Customer Relationship Management, and Telecommunications.
Wades already got the T-Mobile contract working quite well for him. He could add another series of ads from new sponsors around some kind of “Working Together” or “Teamwork” theme.
Winning (and staying out of scandals) will open up expanded marketing opportunities. This is a real stretch, but someone out there will be pitching the possibility.
If they win, the sky is the limit.
The biggest obstacles to getting this core group on the floor together are money and ego. From the buzz on different websites and from some of the previous statements of the parties involved.
It is really difficult to see all of three of these guys on the same team. Fun to think about, but ego and money represent significant challenges.
Dwyane Wade is the one that seems to have the best ability to control his ego for the purpose of winning games. He's also the only one that already has a championship (and Finals MVP). LeBron and Bosh still need to get their first.
Nonetheless, even if such a team were to come to be -- this would only make them strong contenders. Generally speaking, no matter how good a team is in the NBA there is always a challenger that develops and with rare exception there is parity at the pinnacle in the playoffs.
The biggest obstacle once they are on the floor?
There is a 24 second shot clock and there is only one ball.