Quotes this morning from Dwyane Wade prompted a discussion of a potential Lebron James-Wade team-up this summer with both being unrestricted free agents. The conversation touched on where the two might end up together, how they might fit together, and where does Chris Bosh fit into all of this?
Rob Peterson: I think it would be ... great. They make tons of money, so it's not a pure "love of the game" move, but on a professional level it gets pretty close. Question is: where would they do it? They could do it in either Cleveland or Miami, but then one guy would be cast as a sidekick, and despite the supposed subjugation of egos, I don't think either would like headlines such as the following: "LeBron joins Wade in Miami..." or "Wade joins LeBron in Cleveland..."
They could make a bigger splash by becoming saviors elsewhere -- New York, NJ/BKLYN, Chicago, LAC, Milwaukee (ha!) -- together: Butch and Sundance, Captain and Tennille, Johnson and Johnson, Death and Taxes.
It would be huge.
More after the jump...
Tom Ziller: Who gets to be Aquaman?
Matt Moore: 1. Because of the power that they bring, not only in terms of on-court play but in terms of marketing, branding together not only means they can dictate the direction of the organization, but we're talking ... Every. Single. Detail.
Example: If they go to Brooklyn, who won't have a coach in place (Kiki's not staying), they can decide who they want to coach them. They can determine who they should draft. They can get ownership shares and arena splits and anything they want. We're not just talking money here, we're talking power. To me this would represent a dramatic shift in the approach of free agency, even if it's a one-time deal. They can wield that power on their own, but not as surehanded as if they go together. If you're an owner and the two of them say they'll take less money to play for you but they want control? You'll give them whatever they ask for.
2. I can blame this on the Lakers. Everyone is so frustrated by how easy it is for LA, with four of the top 25-35 players in the NBA on their team plus Fish and Bynum. Wouldn't this be an excellent way to say "That's fine. You've got your combo, we've got ours"? Wouldn't seeing how much top level talent playing together be alluring? And don't they kind of have to say "If we're going to win a championship in the next three years, we have to have a better team than LA, and the only way to make that happen is to play together?"
Will Brinson: WHAT ABOUT THE CLIPPERS???
Tom Ziller: "They can get ownership shares and arena splits and anything they want." -- Matt
I think you're right about everything else, though.
Matt Moore: If money's not really a concern, can you imagine if they go to Chicago? Dump Salmons' salary and decline to pick up Ty Thomas and there's room. Rose-Wade-LeBron-[A BLOODY CORPSE]-Noah? In Chicago, Wade's hometown and the House that MJ Built for LeBron?
The Nets have the most capability. What if they land the No. 1, draft Wall, trade Harris for best player available and then fill in around Lee, Yi, CDR and Lopez with all those draft picks, plus the big two?
I feel like New York's only pull is the city, the money and D'Antoni.
Will Brinson: But they can get SECRET OWNERSHIP SHARES* like Kobe and unofficial control over who will be drafted and who will be coaching them.
* Doesn't really have secret ownership shares.
Brett Pollakoff: Stop blaming everything on the Lakers. The Celtics did it first in 2008.
Tom Ziller: Also, Aquaman/third banana? Lopez in NJ/BK, Lee (Spike or David) in NY, Blake in LA, BJ in MKE, Rose in Chicago, Beaz in Miami .... um .... JJ Hickson? in Cleveland.
Rob Peterson: Clippers were mentioned. I'm trying to decide who would be better with LeBron and Wade Plus Three -- LAC or NJN.
Will Brinson: What if you took LA back from Kobe? That would make my entire life.
Tom Ziller: They don't even need to dump Salmons -- he's a lock to opt out (even after this crappy season) with the CBA coming up in 2011. Basically everyone who can opt out will opt out, because they all know the new CBA will screw them.
Tom Ziller: Clips can't sign both outright either -- need to dump Kaman or Davis, or get a sign-and-trade (maybe with Gordon back to Miami?).
Rob Peterson: Clips could probably do that at the deadline, especially if Griffin comes back.
What do you do with Al Thornton? Trade him for candy bits? Eric Gordon? Marcus Camby?
Clips make zero sense if Wade and LBJ care about basketball at all.
Tom Ziller: I would buy a LeBron Clippers jersey, definitely.
Only Miami can currently definitely sign both to max contracts outright. New York can't without dumping Curry; Nets are really close, but a top-3 pick would push their salary holds too high to get both outright.
Nate Jones: They still will need to go somewhere with solid bigs and shooters to be successful. Minus that they still would not be a lock to beat the L.A., Boston and/or Orlando.
If you're NJ: Do you trade John Wall for a chance to get both LeBron and Wade? Or maybe they can move Harris (reasonable salary) if they draft Wall and then have room to pick up both of them?
Tom Ziller: Oh, I don't know ... I think LeBron-Wade + three role players who can defend/rebound/shoot a little would win 70 games, barring injury.
Matt Moore: And we all know that having those two on one team would make every single player better. It's why Kendrick Perkins looks awesome now. It's why Rondo looks awesome now. It's why Derek Fisher hasn't been buried alive.
That said, Wall-Wade-Lebron-(insert rookie)-Lopez, with CDR and Courtney Lee off the bench with Yi? Boom, ECF.
And Zill, I think a primary component of this is that they don't take max contracts.
Finally, how terrified does this make Cleveland? Their entire push was "See, you can win here! And we'll pay you the most!" and now they're looking at not winning and the money isn't as big of a factor. It's the same reason I think Miami's not as big of a push. I think they're both a little frustrated that they're two of the three best players in the league and their teams haven't put enough around them to win.
Will Brinson: Keep Harris and trade your No. 1 (pre-lottery would actually be the smart move somehow, right?) for the best, cheapest player that you can find and then welcome them with Jay-Z's open arms.
Nate Jones: I don't think it's that simple. They would be VERY good. But they could still get destroyed inside. LeBron + Wade with a bunch of donut bigs and no shooters to really keep them honest would still have trouble with teams like L.A. That's why I'm more threatened by a LeBron + Bosh or Wade + Bosh combo than the two wings playing together. LeBron with a guy he can run pick and roll with? Every team's nightmare. How do you stop a Bosh-LeBron pick and roll/pick and pop?
The one example we have of a team winning with no real dominant bigs are the Bulls, but they had a system and players to overcome that. They had Rodman grabbing 20 and Jordan and Pippen doing most of their damage posting up and initiating a perfectly spaced offense. They also were an incredible defensive team.
Not saying that it should be difficult for a team to get players to come and play with these guys (especially vets), but LeBron + Wade alone is not going to get 'er done. Interesting to see what they'll do given that whatever team they go to will have ZERO cap space remaining.
LeBron should just go play with Tyreke Evans in Sactown. Would actually still have flexibility to build around them.
Matt Moore: Picking up a power forward that can set a screen? Not difficult. Picking up two out-of-this-world players who can hit from anywhere on the floor plus drive and create shots no one else can hit? That's tricky.
(As an aside, I know Bosh gets the numbers but I watch a ton of Raps games. And the guy just isn't anywhere NEAR the same level. He battles, he works hard, but Wade vs. Bosh? Are you kidding? I'm all for contextual analysis over pure-star potential, but come on.)
Plus, what, finding a rebounder is going to be difficult? Please. Especially if it's a team like the Nets who have rebounders, plus can trade either a top-five pick or Devin Harris.
As for the shooters argument? What, you think OFFENSE is going to be the problem with LeBron and Wade on the same team? You can throw together a few three point specialists. Pick up Steve Novak, for God's sake. Trade for J.J. Redick. You'd have assets to burn. But if you put them on a team like the bulls, with no 3-point shooters? It doesn't matter because you've still got Derrick Rose and Noah.
Let's not make this more difficult to understand than it is.
Will Brinson: NO WAY Bosh + whoever >> Bron + Wade. No. Way.
Nate Jones: Didn't say anything about the Nets. Lopez is good. Just said going to a team with bigs/shooters or having a plan to get those needs to be a part of the thought process. Nets would fit that formula.
Matt Moore: I mean, the Knicks don't have those things. But every other player in the market does. Except Cleveland.
Nate Jones: But every other player in the market has to move talent to make room to sign both. Looks like the Nets would be the destination for this plan. But those two going to a team via FA on a team that isn't mostly full of underpaid players or rookie contracts doesn't leave much flexibility for anything. Despite whatever power/influence they have, they still would have to put together a team around them and there are still salary cap issues they would have to deal with. If the team doesn't already have those areas covered or have assets to trade for those needs, then they are limited to veteran minimums and mid-level pick-ups.
And despite what those two say, I'd love to see the day superstars take less than the max to play with each other. Name a prime superstar that's done it in the salary cap age. Just doesn't happen. And don't cite endorsement money because the basketball shoe market is in shambles. LeBron will be praying Nike pays him the same with his next contract.
Would love to see them in L.A. together for the Clippers just because I think that's the one thing that could cause DTS [Donald Sterling] to finally cash out.
Matt Moore: Has to move talent in order to what? If you have LEBRON JAMES AND DWYANE WADE appearing nightly, are you worried about the cap? We're not talking Memphis or Sacramento (no offense, Zill) or Milwaukee here (Peterson -- "Hey!"). Those are obviously out. But if you have the ability to sign them for top but not max money, that investment alone will net you enough to cover your support cast.
I mean, Nate, come on. The Dallas Mavericks have great players at every position and go deep into luxury tax, but still can't get over because they only have one superstar. Conversely, let's look at the champions of this decade. Each of them is defined as having two superstar players (and yes, Tony Parker qualifies). We're not talking about a strong 1 and a terrific 2. We're talking 1a and 1b here.
Hey, I'm all for team-building and putting together a great, even roster. But Boston? Kendrick Perkins, Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell, Eddie House, James Posey, Glenn Davis, Leon Powe.
How about Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Josh Powell, Andrew Bynum on every third night he decides to try, Adam Morrison, and Trevor Ariza's magical Wizard of Oz act ("Don't pay any attention to the man behind the outlier three point percentage!")
And anyway, we're talking apples to oranges. There is more than one way to build a contender, you just have to have certain elements. Namely, defense, effort, and execution. But Nate, you're seriously arguing here that LeBron and Wade isn't a winning combination?
Regarding the money: Then why make these comments? It's not just about Nike. It's all the little deals. These guys manage their money very well from every indication I've gathered or person I've talked to. They're smart guys.
And then you cap it all off by saying you'd love to see them in the one place that's the worst idea for them to go to. Sense that not makes.
I have no clue where Bosh is going to end up. He's going to demand the money. He's the kind of guy that's going to want the payout for his time spent on the ice planet Hoth. But I don't think he's worth it.
Nate Jones: If you're a GM you do everything in your power to get those two on your roster. Having those two gives you a chance to win the title every year. Heck, having LeBron alone gives you a chance every year.
I'm just saying:
1) It's not a lock that those two equal a championship when neither one of them is a dominant interior offensive or defensive player, something that basically all title holders over the last 25 years have had.
2) It's not a lock, despite what they spew from their mouths that they are going to give up what could be $30M to play with each other. Especially with a CBA that could change the salary cap and player maxes significantly, thus hurting their chances to recoup that money.
If they do it, I will be the first person to stand up and give them a round of applause. But I've been watching basketball for far too long to know that the best players want to be paid like the best until the market indicates that they can't get that money anymore. If anything, Wade was probably prompted by a reporter and then gave the reporter the answer he was looking for. Guys always talk about wanting to play with each other, but let's see it actually happen first.
Rob Peterson: Also, if Jordan-Pippen (positive) is the success story, then Grant Hill-Tracy McGrady experiment (negative) in Orlando in the early aughts is the 180. We should take Wade's sketchy injury history into account.
Nate Jones: And your points about the Lakers, Mavs and Celtics:
Mavs: Deep team, no interior play.
Lakers: They have a top-five center, a top-three power forward and arguably the best shooting guard in the league and are able to call Lamar Odom and Ron Artest role players. They also have possibly the greatest coach in the history of basketball.
Celtics: Garnett made them into an incredible defensive team. There aren't many bigs that can play great one-on-one interior defense, step out on pick and rolls and just play the quarterback on the defensive side of the ball the way he does. Doesn't seem like a hypothetical LeBron + Wade combo would have that kind of intimidating interior presence at their disposal.
And my statement about the Clippers has nothing to do with what's right for them, just what I personally would like to see. Namely because I live here, but also because that's the one way I could see Sterling selling the team.
Just wanted to throw this out to the thread about Bosh: You don't think that playing with a guy like LeBron would make him that much better of a player? Obviously Wade and LeBron are both individually better than Bosh, but just think I would rather build around a LeBron + Bosh combo. And also think LeBron could make Bosh an even better player than he already is.
Will Brinson: You're telling me that if you were in charge of running a team you would look at Bosh, Bron and Wade lined up and pass on Wade? No way.
Bruce Ciskie: I'd be scared to pay for both LeBron and Wade to be on my team. After all, I only have one ball.
I think Bosh would be a much better fit, even though he's not as good a talent as Wade. How is Wade going to work his magic when he's playing second fiddle to the established alpha dog.
Matt Moore: Does Bosh screen exceptionally well? No.
Is he a great rebounder? Ehhhhh, okay we'll say better than most.
Is he terrific on the pick and roll? Ehh, he can run it as long as the defense doesn't react to him at all.
Is he great on the pick and pop? Yeah, he's got that short-range jumper down.
Does he dominate in the post? Not really, but he's got a nice turnaround and a lefty-lay-in.
I'm not saying Bosh isn't great. He is. But what in his skill set is going to improve with those two?
Nate Jones: Bosh is not chopped liver. I'm just talking for balance sake. And as a big, he needs a guy to set him up more than anything. We don't know what kind of threat he would be playing next to LeBron and his ability to set up guys.
Will Brinson: Has everyone already forgotten the Olympic team? This isn't a situation where something needs to be established -- they would both be picking the same team and running shop/train all over the entire NBA after they picked said team.
Nate Jones: Big difference: This isn't the Olympics.
Bruce Ciskie: An 82-game season and grueling playoff are a lot different than a summertime Olympic tournament.
What worked then won't necessarily work now.
Matt Moore: Okay, if we want to get into nuts and bolts ...
Wade's an awesome entry and cut-passer. Learned it from those years with Caron, LO, and Shaq. Now you've got James with his athletic ability slicing and dicing in open space because if the defense tries to clog, Wade's going to rip them to shreds from mid-range.
Meanwhile, when James has the ball, Wade gets to move off screens without the ball. And while he operates best with the ball, IF we take him at his word, he's willing to be unselfish with Lebron. Which means coming off screens, popping out and getting (gasp) open looks. Then you've got LeBron to clean up.
You want pick and roll? Wade's speed off a high screen is killer. If they sag, he's either going to pull up or lob to LeBron who can finish, or pass back to LeBron whose jumper is incredibly improved this year, particularly from the arc.
How about transition buckets alone? Wade's an elite steals man and James is an elite blocks guy. They're overall defensive scheme would need the right coach, that's definitely true, but they're going to create so many easy bucket opportunities SportCenter will need another show just for their highlights.
I'm not saying if you throw them on a D-League team they win the championship, but they're immediately the best team in the East if they stay out East.
Will Brinson: My point was that both of them have the understanding and maturity to not be disturbed by the idea of two top dogs. I mean, the very reason we're having this conversation is because they both are willing to sacrifice money/individual attention (and perhaps not even the latter) for titles.