Rumours are spreading that Carmelo Anthony, who seems set to opt out of the final year of his deal with the New York Knicks, will be taking his talents to South Beach where he will team up with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade once all three opt out of their deals and sign new deals for less money, perhaps over a longer period. Rumours that a 2003 NBA draft reunion have been somewhat spoiled by the inability of anyone to track down second overall pick Darko Milicic.
Other prominent names from that draft include David West – perhaps one of the few players who genuinely would be a perfect fit for the Heat – and Boris Diaw, who was linked with a move to Miami earlier in the season but has since become one of their main tormentors in the 2014 NBA finals.
People, including Charles Barkley, have questioned why these young stars have been collaborating to try and win titles. That’s the same Charles Barkley who left Phoenix, allegedly against his will, in 1996 to join the NBA champion Houston Rockets to, yanno, chase a ring. That’s different, claimed Chuck in an interview with The Starters on NBA TV, he was at the end of his career. In fact he was 33. Dwyane Wade is 32. Of course Wade has three championships to his name. Chuck never got there, partially because a certain Michael Jordan made his comeback that same season and helped the Bulls to a famous 72-10 regular season.
What is happening among former-player-turned-analysts is the projection of their values onto others. This is a strange thing to do in the first place, but we need to acknowledge that it is a projection that is completely tied up in that individuals perception of the “right thing to do”. Barkley is mad because his great Phoenix Suns team could never get over the rather sizable hump that was the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls. Barkely’s first season in Phoenix, his MVP season, saw the Suns make the finals and lost 4-2 to Jordan’s threepeating (copyright Pat Riley) Bulls. They then lost, in consecutive years, to the Hakeem Olajuwon-led Houston Rockets. Barkley’s last season saw the Suns finish 41-41 and lose in the first round of the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs.
Some analysts regret not chasing a ring, others regret not doing it quickly enough. Karl Malone went ring chasing, but threw his lot in with a tired LA Lakers team that struggled even before Malone suffered a knee injury in game 4 of the finals and ultimately lost to Detroit 4-1 in the finals. (Side note, game 4 saw Shaq score 36 points and grab 20 rebounds). Gary Payton was also ring chasing on that Lakers team, but he would have other opportunities and eventually won a ring with Dwyane Wade, Shaq and the 2006 Miami Heat.
It seems that a major reason for people’s objection to Carmelo potentially joining Miami this summer is the fact that he is not yet past his prime. So? Why wouldn’t you go ring chasing when still at the peak of your powers, when you can still exert real influence over the outcome of a game? Why wait until you’re hobbling around and basically a passenger like, say, Tracy McGrady last season?
It can’t be the product of loyalty – Carmelo has already shown that he is loyal only to himself. You can watch him play the game and know that Carmelo is a selfish person. He would be joining Miami to try to get a ring for himself…LeBron, Wade and Bosh also getting rings would be incidental. Then again, why shouldn’t he be selfish? The NBA’s salary cap prevents some players from earning what they might command in a completely open market, so why wouldn’t a player who has already made $136m in his career take a little less (and, come on, it’s hardly minimum wage) to win the ultimate prize in professional basketball (the Wingfoot summer league a close second)?
If the new salary cap is a little over $60m and all four members of the potential “big 4” (a number that would better lend itself to the “Heatles” moniker they bestowed upon themselves) were to accept something in the region of $12m per season, that would allow the Heat to spend roughly $20m on the remainder of the roster – the same amount they have at present to fill more spots.
Chris Bosh may have claimed the move was “very, very unlikely” the other day, but after two utter drubbings in the games 3 and 4 in the finals, the Heat are acutely aware that they must make significant changes this off-season if they are to contend for another championship next season.