Betting Questions Raised by Big 3 from Miami Heat and Free Agency
by Trevor Whenham - 7/9/2014
TV doesn't provide much in the way of new drama during the summer. Luckily, then, the NBA is providing a world-class soap opera to keep us entertained during the long rerun season. The Carmelo Anthony saga seemed like it would be a world-class thrill ride, but it was soon completely eclipsed by what has gone on in Miami. LeBron James opted out of his contract. Seemingly the rest of the team followed suit. And while it seemed when it happened like it was merely a formality and the Big Three would be back in place soon enough, the more time has passed the easier it has become to believe that anything is possible.
The theory seemed to be that the Big 3 would take less money to open up cap space that would allow the Heat to address some of the clear issues that were exposed by the Spurs - a stunning lack of depth. That may still happen, but it didn't make a lot of sense then, and it makes less now. It's still probably most likely that things will work out and everyone will return to the fold, but there are several other possibilities, and the longer we wait for a resolution the less certain things get. As we try to figure out what is going to happen - and by extension, what impact this is going to have for bettors heading into the season - here are six important questions to consider:
How long can Bosh wait?: To me, Chris Bosh is the most interesting figure here. He has always been seen as the third tier of the big three, and he gets knocked for lots of things - most significantly, that he isn't a top--level defender. On top of it all, it seems clear that the team at least initially expected him to take a serious pay cut to open up cap space. It's all just a whole lot of disrespect. He still wants to stay in Miami with LeBron if he can, but the reality is that he can get more money elsewhere - namely Houston - and he would be a part of a very good team and one that is better built top to bottom. The worst case scenario would be for Bosh to wind up back in Miami while James is playing somewhere else. No amount of money could make that ideal. The longer things drag on, the more likely Bosh is to think for himself and jump while other options still exist. He would be such a great fit in Houston that I frankly hope that this is his choice.
Have they done enough yet?: From where I'm sitting the team had a whole lot of issues, and Josh McRoberts and a banged-up Danny Granger are not enough to solve all the issues. James and the others are going to have no interest in locking themselves into a team that will face the same issues as they so decidedly did against the Spurs last year. If I was looking for Pat Riley to solve the problems and this was what he showed me then I would be seriously considering my options.
Will there be enough cap space?: There is almost nothing on the planet as confusing as the NBA salary cap. What you need to know, though, is that due to the moves they have chosen to make so far, the team is limited in what they can spend. They are not allowed to go too far into the luxury tax regardless of what they would like to do. Unless the Big Three chose to take a huge pay cut, then, they are going to be limited in what they can add. They are forced to try to fix a team with serious issues by adding affordable pieces. That can't be too inspiring.
Is Wade worth it?: No one is saying it publicly, but I have to wonder if the other two are really interested in being tied to Wade for another few years. He is so beaten up physically that he can't be relied upon to play anything close to a full season, and he can't seem to stay in shape through a playoff run. He is obviously a truly great player, and the other players will be feeling loyal, but at this point would they be better off with him than with top-level guys who are younger and healthier? It's not a completely clear-cut choice. On top of that, you have to really question if James has any loyalty to the others or to the team at this point. He is clearly operating on his own and for himself - as he should - so that adds a further complication to things. James has to be more interested in winning more titles going forward than he is in remembering the titles he has already won with Wade.
What can Cleveland offer?: When James first opted out and the Cleveland rumors popped up, they didn't make a lot of sense. As time has passed, though, it has started to make a bit more sense. Irving would be the best point guard James has ever played with - by a wide margin. Wiggins, Thompson, and Bennett all have huge upside - and they are affordable at this point. It's probably not quite enough for James, but it certainly has to be intriguing - especially since it would give James a chance to repair his image and to get paid as well. It's telling that Cleveland has been the most popular bet in the NBA Championship futures market by far lately, and the price has fallen dramatically as a result.
What will Melo do?: This hasn't turned out to be as interesting of a question as it could have been because Carmelo Anthony has been quiet about his process, and he doesn't seem to be looking to really disrupt things in the league. Still, if he makes his move before the Big 3 does then it could have an implication for the decisions of the others.
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