by Matthew Thompson
Much like my book review earlier this week, I am going to try to branch out with a sports blog here. I’d really like this blog to cover more interests in my life and while I was watching NBA free agents make their moves this past week, I thought it’d be a worth trying to make a blog out of it. So here are five thoughts on 2014’s NBA Free Agency period.
LeBron goes home: Like a lot of people I wasn’t the biggest Lebron James fan when went to Miami four years ago. I didn’t mind him leaving Cleveland to be honest. And while his televised decision event was silly, that wasn’t what irked me either. It was that the three biggest free agents decided to all go to the same team. Part of the reason I enjoy free agency is I like to see the league’s status quo shaken up a bit. I figured between James, Wade and Bosh they’d have helped to make at least two teams new contenders instead of one.
LeBron ultimately won me over with his play on the court. I questioned whether he’d even be the best player on that Heat team especially since it was Wade’s team to begin with, but by year two of the Big Three era LeBron was far and away the best player in Miami and was delivering when it counted most, something he hadn’t quite done up to that point.
Now I didn’t become a Heat fan by any means. Unless it is my team winning multiple championships in a short time period (in the NBA’s case that is the Sixers, so not likely any time soon), I prefer the wealth to be spread around. So I’m glad LeBron left Miami and headed back to Cleveland. It will obviously be a shift in power in the East. I don’t see Cleveland as an instant title contender unless they land Love (and they should give up Wiggins to get him if they must assuming he will sign long-term with Cleveland). Even then, it will take some time to gel and the Western Conference still has plenty of teams that could easily deny them. But I do like the move for LeBron, not just because it is a nice story of him coming home. Or because he did it in a much more classy way this time. But I actually think the long-term championship chances might be better for the Cavs with some of the young talent there than in Miami with Dwyane Wade whose game seems to have aged more quickly than usual due to his style of play and Chris Bosh who it sounds like LeBron didn’t exactly mesh with all that well. Dan Gilbert is still an ass though and I kind of hate things going his way.
The New Look Heat: With LeBron gone, I figured Chris Bosh would be headed to Houston to once again be the third cog in a loaded team, but he surprised me by signing a long-term max deal with the Heat. One of my big questions for next season is if can Bosh can return to the kind of game and production he had in Toronto before he had to play third fiddle to two of the League’s biggest stars. He was one of a handful of 20-10 guys in the NBA five years ago and had a bigger impact in the post. It will be interesting to see what he’ll do as the number one (or two) guy on this Heat team. Similarly, I’m curious how Wade will hold up going forward. And with the talent more spread out, how high can the Heat remain in the Eastern Conference pecking order. I also thought Luol Deng was a solid pickup for this team in a post-LeBron world.
Houston, we have a problem: Things just didn’t seem to go the Houston Rockets way this past week. With a couple of big-time talents in Dwight Howard and James Harden and the cap room to land another, they seemed like a prime landing spot for one of this offseason’s big stars. And if they snagged Bosh (or Carmelo which never seemed very likely to me), they would have certainly moved up the ranks in the loaded Western Conference. Unfortunately, they got neither. Lin and Parsons are gone as well. And while Ariza could be a nice addition, I don’t feel like they have done anything to boost their team up with the top teams in the west.
Melo stays in the Big Apple: Ever since Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to a National Championship, I have been a fan. He is an amazing scorer obviously, but I’d love to see him compete for a championship, the lack of which has been a knock on him throughout his career. That is why I was kind of hoping he went to the Bulls. They had a good team last year even without Derrick Rose. If you added Carmelo to the mix and Rose happened to stay healthy (a big if), they would have been my pick to win the East next season. That was not to be.
The Knicks are still a ways away from any kind of championship contention, so I guess I have to hope they can get another big free agent next offseason to pair with Anthony. Hopefully Phil Jackson can get things pointed in the right direction because I’d really like to see Anthony have some big post-season success.
Everyone loves Pau: Pau Gasol was a much more coveted free agent than I anticipated. He is getting a little older at this point, but looking at his production this year he has stayed consistent with recent years despite the Lakers disastrous season. He does seem like a great piece to add to a talented roster, one that might give a team the extra nudge they need to step up a rung on the NBA ladder. Oklahoma City seemed like a great fit to me, but the Bulls are a nice landing spot for him as well. He might be able to do even more damage out in the East where the competition, especially among big men, is a bit weaker.
Those are some of my thoughts on the big free agency moves so far this offseason. I’m not sure how many sports fans frequent my blog, but if there are any, let me know which signings caught your eye this past week. I hope to have more sports content once football season rolls around this Fall. Thanks for reading!