In an NBA era dominated by ‘big threes’, the talk around the association today is that Miami are aiming to create a big four. Carmelo Anthony, of the New York Knicks, has the option to opt out of his contract before June 23rd. If Melo does decide to leave New York, and that’s quite a large if at the moment, how realistic are Miami’s chances of landing him?
Professional sports careers are short in comparison to other professions. Players have a 10-15 year window to make their money before they move on to coaching, TV work or a nice comfortable retirement. It is hard to blame top athletes for demanding the type of money they demand when you think about the brevity of their potential earning time span.
It is important to keep that in mind when discussing the possibilities of Miami convincing Anthony to join. In order for Miami to assemble a 12 man roster including Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh everybody involved would need to take a large pay cut.
The current Miami big three all signed for less money than they would have received elsewhere to play together in 2010. Will they all be willing to reduce their pay again to chase more success? First estimates suggest that James, Wade and Bosh would have to take roughly $7 million less per year than they would get for a max contract. These three players have done it before, why not again?
Then there is Carmelo Anthony. Anthony would be the player losing the most money. Anthony would have to sacrifice around $10million per year to make the big four dream feasible. The question is how much is Anthony willing to sacrifice to chase that elusive championship ring?
Finally you have a supporting cast. Chances are Miami will pick up some veterans who are willing to sign for very little money in one last attempt at glory. We have already seen Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen take this option. Miami will find one or two more players like this. Players in their prime, who are looking to get paid, may not be so willing. What will Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem and Chris Anderson say when the organisation is trying to renegotiate their contracts and offer them significantly less than they would get elsewhere? Money may not be a concern to superstars like James and Anthony, but lesser players need to make as much money as they can during their short careers. No team is going to win anything with a big four and no supporting cast.
Professional athletes are proud people. Think back to 2010 and remember all of the criticism LeBron James received for abandoning his home state Cleveland Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. There are still plenty of people out there who will tell you that LeBron James will never be compared to Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant because he had to ask D-Wade for help winning a ring.
LeBron jumping ship to Miami definitely hurt his legacy. Players often dismiss the term legacy as the media trying to make stories out of nothing. While there may be some truth in this, all players are aware of how their peers, the media and the public view them. If Anthony did decide to move to Miami, how would he handle the critics who claim he is riding his rival (and friend) LeBron James’ coattails to a championship. People would constantly remind Carmelo that he needed the help of his 2003 draft mates to win a championship. Carmelo needs to ask himself what is more important to him, winning or his reputation? Melo can always take refuge in Tiger Woods comment that ‘winning takes care of everything’.
The consensus on the chances of Carmelo Anthony actually joining Miami is quite slim. After Pat Riley managed to create the big three in 2010 it would be premature to say Melo won’t end up in Miami. If Melo does join the Heat how will that affect the team chemistry?
Miami’s three biggest issues are their Point Guard play, their defence and their rebounding. Carmelo Anthony doesn’t really address any of these issues. He takes the scoring burden off James, but he also reduces the touches available for Bosh and Wade. If nothing else this provides a nice story for the upcoming free agency which is otherwise dominated by Kevin Love.
In Miami, they have the small matter of Game Four of the NBA Finals to worry about.