Bosh’s Decision Maintains Hierarchy in Western Conference
On Friday of last week, LeBron James made his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers official. James’ decision grabbed significant attention, and was the main story on a busy day of free agency activity. But make no mistake, as significant as James’ decision to go home was, former teammate Chris Bosh’s choice to stay in Miami will have more of an impact on the 2014-2015 NBA title race than the King’s decision.
In the days leading up to James’ decision, reports surfaced that Bosh was speaking with the Houston Rockets to establish a landing spot in the event that James left Miami. It seemed like a perfect match.
Bosh is from Texas (Dallas), is a top power forward, and would nicely complement Houston center Dwight Howard in the Rockets’ front-court (Bosh has strongly developed his outside game and three-point shot over the last few seasons, while Dwight continues to work exclusively in the paint). So when James’ essay explaining his decision was published on SI.com late last week, it was assumed that Bosh would soon after come to terms with the Houston Rockets.
Well, HEAT president Pat Riley wasn’t ready to start over in Miami, and aggressively pushed to keep Bosh and Wade in South Beach. As he often does, Riley got his man. Bosh accepted Miami’s max contract offer (five years, $118 million), spurning the Rockets, who could only offer a four-year, roughly $80 million contract.
While James’ move back to Cleveland is a great story, and is rightfully the focus of our collective attention, Bosh’s decision will have more bearing on next year’s championship race than James’.
LeBron said in his own essay that the road to a championship would not be easy and that the Cavaliers are probably at least a year away from contending.
“We’re not ready right now,” James wrote. “No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach.”
James wrote that he could help elevate the games of young teammates Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson. After promising not one, not two, not three, not four, not five championships in Miami, James may be underselling the situation in Cleveland. But the fact is that unless the Cavaliers swing a trade for Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love, the Cavaliers will not be a true championship contender next year. The Eastern Conference is wide open, and the Cavaliers will be in the mix, but as the San Antonio Spurs have taught us over the years, stability and veterans win championships, not young talent.
Two summers ago, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey landed James Harden in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then, last offseason, the Rockets swooped Dwight Howard out of Los Angeles to play alongside Harden and small forward Chandler Parsons. As recently as Friday, it looked as though Morey and the Rockets were about to land an all-star player for the third year in a row.
The Rockets agreed to send Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans a few weeks ago. Then, last week, Chandler Parsons signed a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks, giving Houston three days to match the offer. Then yesterday, after LeBron’s decision was published, the Rockets traded Jeremy Lin, along with a first and second round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in order to clear space to sign Bosh. But Bosh decided Miami was the place for him, leaving the Rockets with roughly $20 million in cap space, and the question of whether to match Parsons’ offer sheet, which they eventually decided to pass on.
Signing Bosh would have guaranteed that the Rockets would match Parsons’ offer sheet, but without the star power forward, the Rockets acquired Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza in a sign-and-trade deal, worth $32 million over four years. This deal allows the Rockets to have considerable flexibility next offseason, which Rockets general manager Daryl Morey puts a premium on.
So, instead of a starting lineup of Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard, the Rockets will likely roll out a starting lineup of Beverley, Harden, Ariza, Terrence Jones and Howard. This is still a very good team, one that could contend in the Western Conference. However, it cannot be said that this lineup is the favorite in the West, not with the champion San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Los Angeles Clippers there to compete with and the Golden State Warriors in the mix as well. This is what was lost when Bosh decided to stay in Miami. Though the Spurs are the champions and gold standard of the NBA, the Rockets had an opportunity jump into the top tier of the Western Conference with San Antonio, and possibly become the favorite to win it all next year.
But Bosh has the right to stay in Miami, even if the HEAT will not be able to compete for a title like the Rockets. Bosh has played third-fiddle to the LeBron James and Dwayne for the last four years after being the number one option with the Toronto Raptors. Bosh conveyed this sentiment in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday, stating “I’m excited for the challenge. I want to step up to the challenge. I feel this is a chance to prove to myself and others that I can still do this.”
In his last season with the Raptors (2009-10), Bosh averaged 24 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists and one block per game. Last season with the HEAT, he averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and one block per game. With Wade constantly battling through injuries, Bosh will likely take on a number one option role with the HEAT next year, and will be able to show the rest of the league how good he still is, and how much of his game he sacrificed these last four seasons so the HEAT could compete for championships.
There is an inclination to feel as though the Miami HEAT are the big losers so far this off-season. Losing LeBron James can have that effect. But the Houston Rockets may have lost more than anyone. Daryl Morey made the right moves, and set a perfect landing spot for Bosh in the event that LeBron went home to Cleveland. But with Bosh going back to Miami, the Rockets have to move forward with Ariza—who is a very good player— instead of Bosh and Houston fan-favorite Parsons, which is a tough pill to swallow after it looked as though the Rockets were cleared for takeoff to the top of the Western Conference, but are now right back in the middle.
King James announced he was going home on Friday, but Bosh keeping his talents in South Beach is what will have the most impact on the 2014-2015 title race.
USA Basketball Announces Training Camp Roster
With free-agency well underway, USA Basketball released the full roster for the 2014 National Team training camp.
Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Stephen Curry, James Harden, and DeMar DeRozan.
Kevin Durant, Kenneth Faried, Kevin Love, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Korver, Chandler Parsons, and Klay Thompson.
DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and Andre Drummond.
Some notable names that are not on the roster include LaMarcus Aldridge, Russell Westbrook, Finals MVP Khawi Leonard, and John Wall.
Aldridge, who in the past has wavered in terms of interest in playing for the National team, was initially invited to participate, but withdrew from consideration for this summer’s FIBA World Cup to be held in Spain later this summer. Westbrook withdrew his name last week in order to rest after undergoing three knee surgeries that stem from an injury he suffered against the Houston Rockets in the 2013 playoffs. Leonard also withdrew his name from consideration due to lingering lower body injuries, including knee soreness and quadriceps tendinitis. Leonard is also currently involved in negotiations for an extension with the San Antonio Spurs. Regarding Wall, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that Wall could be added to the roster later, but that is not a certainty as of today.
Two new members added to the 2014-16 National Team roster are DeMar DeRozan and Chandler Parsons, who both played in last summer’s National Team mini-camp.
This summer’s roster does not include past National Team standouts such as LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Kobe Bryant. However, returning from the 2012 U.S. Olympic gold medal team are Davis (who replaced Blake Griffin who suffered a knee injury), Durant, Harden and Love. Also returning from the 2010 FIBA World Cup Tournament held in Turkey are Curry, Durant, Love, and Rose.
The 19-man roster is loaded with talent and includes some of the best shooters in the NBA, such as Curry, Thompson, Lillard, Durant, Love, Korver, and Parsons. It also features some of the most physical, young big men in Griffin, Faried, Cousins, and Drummond.
Marc Stein of ESPN reports that some of the players considered to be locks to make the final team include Durant, Love, Griffin, Davis, Harden and Curry, and that George, Irving, Lillard, and Rose have a good shot as well.
One player to keep an eye on is Rose, who has missed the last two NBA seasons due to knee injuries, but is reportedly now 100 percent healthy. When healthy, Rose is one of the most physically imposing point guards in the league, however, it is unclear just how good he can be after two seasons of rehabbing from ACL and meniscus surgeries.
The National Team coaching staff is once again headed by Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is largely credited with revitalizing the USA Basketball program along with director Jerry Colangelo. Assisting coach Krzyzewski are Jim Boeheim (Syracuse University), Tom Thibodeau (Chicago Bulls), and Monty Williams (New Orleans Pelicans).
The final roster for the World Cup will need to be trimmed down to 12, so National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and coach Krzyzewski will have some tough choices to make in the coming weeks.
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