Who Fits With a LeBron-Wade-Bosh Mega-Team?
Kind of an irrelevant question isn't it?
"Who else do three of the top 10 best players who would then play on the same team need?"
It's like asking what kind of gun Superman needs. He doesn't. He's freaking Superman.
But there's still this question. If you get the three biggest names in the biggest free agency summer in league history, if you form this Voltron-esque conglomeration of superstar talent, if you're ready to take the world by storm ... who else do you get to fill out your roster?
A man can't survive on bread and water alone, and Bosh-Wade-James can't survive on Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley alone. Nor can they on Wilson Chandler and Danilo Galinari, nor, well ... OK, they can probably survive on Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and a healthy bench. But still! You have to fill out a roster, is the point. Lost in all this discussion of team-ups and other-worldly hookups (the basketball kind, not the "Italian model that mysteriously lowers her standards for you one night" kind), is the fact that these teams still are going to have to field a 13-man roster.
So if we're looking to get guys to surround the best trio in the NBA (with apologies to the defending Kobe-Pau-Ron combo), if it were to hypothetically happen, where do you turn? What guys are good enough to play with these three? Who can you get for the remaining scraps of salary you have? And who fits with the team?
For the purposes of this discussion we're going off into the ether and not going to consider contextual restrictions. If some team were to theoretically land the three superstars together, and would have only marginal replacement players available, who else would they need to pursue to fill out the team? That's the question. And the answer can be found in your bible this summer, Tom Ziller's Guide to the Top 50 Free Agents.
Okay, first up, we're going to need a player who can reasonably set up the show. A curtain man, if you will. A reliable point guard.
No. 19 Raymond Felton: Felton would be the ideal choice. A veteran starter who is both used to attacking the rim and deferring when he needs to. He's also used to playing for less than he's worth. With that in mind, he's probably looking for more than what a team with the trio on board could afford to pay a starter. As Ziller said, he's the "type of point guard you'd want on a team with a ballhog supernova at the two or three." Which is, you know, exactly what we're looking for here. But unless Felton wants to parlay a championship run into a long career of contracts, which players in his position seldom do, he'll likely be more interested in somewhere with more funds.
No. 25 Nate Robinson: Well, he's certainly popular enough. The little guy has proven he can run with an elite team, helping the Celtics to the Finals. But Robinson's game is built around scoring, and that's not what he would be asked to do in this scenario. Robinson could act as a spot-up shooter, but not to the level of efficiency that would be required. The money's probably right for Robinson, but the skill set just doesn't match. Might be a fit for a backup position.
No. 31 Jordan Farmar: Now here's an interesting one. Two NBA championships. Knows how to defer to high usage players. Is used to setting up the offense. Plays defense well ... sometimes. Elusive and young. Farmar would be a great addition for the right price, and since Phil Jackson has kept him in the doghouse for three years, his value might be mitigated enough. Plus, he might be motivated to take a crack at the Lakers and show 'em that they should have put a ring ... er, contract on it.
No. 35 Steve Blake: Sets up the offense, doesn't turn the ball over, can shoot the lights out from the arc. Bingo. Blake would come with a reasonable price tag and, while his defense isn't stellar, it would probably be good enough with that kind of team around him.
No. 5 Yao Ming: Yeah, um, about that. Unless the GM in question has the up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-a-b-a-b-start code from Contra that breaks the NBA salary structure, this won't be happening.
No. 17 Brendan Haywood: Veteran? Check. Good size? Check. Reasonable price? Probably. Haywood might fit the bill but would probably need to take a paycut. The big issue is Haywood can't translate it into a better inking, since he's already 30. But Haywood would provide the kind of muscle the Big 3 would want behind them.
No. 18 Shaquille O'Neal: Don't laugh. Think about it. The big guy doesn't need the money, proved last year he can still contribute, and already has a history with Wade and LeBron. Unfortunately, he also ran out on Wade in Miami, bashing the team along the way, and has made disparaging comments about Bosh. If it weren't for his mouth, this may have made sense. But in reality, O'Neal will want too much money and would clog the floor too much for a team that needs that kind of spacing.
No. 27 Zydrunas Ilgauskas: Old. Really old. And stiff. Plus, he's gone through too much to leave Cleveland now. His ability to hit the mid-range would work well after the others draw double teams, and his size would be an asset. Definitely a contender for a backup role on the squad, bringing a veteran presence.
Bench role players:
No. 20 Ronnie Brewer: A low usage player that can spell Wade, or take over shooting guard in sets with Wade handling the point. A smart defender with good size at guard that's only 24? Sounds like a bargain in the making.
No. 24 Travis Outlaw: A 25-year-old 6-9 small forward that shot 38% from three-point range. Just what the doctor ordered to sub in for LeBron. A Bosh-Outlaw forward tandem would be pretty devastating while James rests, and Outlaw's athletic enough to get out and run with Wade. He may end up costing too much, and it's hard to say whether he's willing to accept a bench role, even on a guaranteed contender.
No. 36 Amir Johnson: You need rebounding when Bosh sits, and that's what Johnson gives you. He's likely to lure some team into overpaying for him, but Johnson's athleticism and defensive prowess would be a boon on an offensively focused team like we're discussing. The key to Johnson would be if he could be inserted with a primary bench unit without the offense completely tanking. A LeBron-Johnson-Bosh lineup would be absolutely terrifying from a defensive standpoint.
No. 43 Matt Bonner: Don't laugh! Every championship team has a guy like this. Hardworking, unathletic forward-type who can shoot threes and blends in with a snow day. Bonner has good size and would be cheap. And probably wouldn't mind riding the albatross' coattails.
Naturally, this list is moot if the most likely scenario happens and the three do not team up.