Be clear about this up front — the Miami Heat are not doing this. Pat Riley is sane.
But there are people out there on talk radio and the Web – including ESPN’s Bill Simmons — saying it is time to break up the Miami trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (to be fair, Simmons said Bosh is a lock to be traded if the Heat lost not it was the right move, but he did suggest a trade). Because all those three did was make it to the NBA finals in their first year together with some crap players around them and no bench to speak of. But whatever. This includes ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy after Game 6, although his idea is more reasonable than some out there (via the Orlando Sentinel).
“I think that Wade and James, going forward, they have to evaluate: Is that the best compliment they could be? Or should they make a play for Dwight Howard using one of those two guys, to get a more balanced team? That’s for the offseason.”
If a trade for Dwight Howard came up (and it has not, Orlando is working hard to keep him), Riley and the Heat would have to discuss it. They may well not do it, but they have to discuss it. But he is a special case, maybe the only case.
The idea of trading one of the Big Three is predicated on the idea that this trio can’t work together — and we don’t know that after one year. Actually, what we know it’s more like the opposite — they can work together. This is a team that started Mike Bibby (gotten rid of by two other teams this season) and Joel Anthony with two (maybe three) other decent players and it still went to Game 6 of the NBA finals.
The Heat got dramatically better playing as a unit as the season went on, the team that was playing in April was very different than the team that started 9-8. They were a good defensive team and their offense evolved. By the time the Heat were facing the Celtics and Bulls they looked good — Miami was playing off the ball with some nice baseline cuts, guys were working off screens, Wade and LeBron were able to find each other in sets, Bosh was fitting in things generally came together. That all took a step backwards in the finals, but after all the progress of the season and the playoffs, things look pretty good going forward.
If they made all that progress in one season, why think they cannot take more steps forward after another training camp and another season?
We all know the Heat need some roster upgrades. They need a center. They need a point guard. They need defensive wings off the bench (so Wade and LeBron don’t have to expend high energy all game on that end of the floor).
But you don’t need to trade the big three to get those things. You never — NEVER — get full value back when trading a superstar. You can make deals that help your team going forward to rebuild, but the Heat are not rebuilding. Trade one of the big three and they will not get the same talent back. The team will get worse.
The Heat need better balance but give Riley a summer to find it. There are better veterans that will come to the team to get a ring, there are younger players who will sign shorter term deals with the Heat looking to gain exposure and cash in later.
You keep the big three, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller for sure. The Heat want Mario Chalmers back and I can see that, he has value as a backup point guard and he does not fear big moments in games. After that, clear out the roster. Make way for better players. How you get them will depend on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, but there will always be ways to improve a team.
But breaking up the big three already is just a terrible idea. It’s being discussed out there, but it is just plain wrong.