Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony during the NBA All-Star Weekend.
Rumors recently flared around the Miami Heat possibly trying to make room to acquire New York Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony this summer. Anthony has made it clear that he intends to opt out of his last year with the Knicks and test free agency in July, and his destination could be South Beach.
Anthony was the third overall selection in the 2003 draft that featured LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, and while Miami’s Big Three has certainly made an impression on the NBA, there may be room for Anthony to come aboard if the Heat can pull off some serious financial restructuring. But while the idea of all four players taking a substantial pay cut to make it happen sounds interesting, this isn’t something that should be able to pass the league’s review so easily.
Commissioner Adam Silver is new to the job, but he’s already made a mark with his handling of the Donald Sterling incident. He may face another mile-high challenge if Anthony finds his way to Miami. The NBA has infamously interfered in free agency deals before, but the Association would definitely be required to step in and break up a possible parity killer.
How much would basketball change if Miami landed Anthony? Ratings may increase, but the criticism from fans would be so intense that the deal might actually hurt the NBA. Outrage flooded the league when James and Bosh decided to join Wade. Former players had their own say, and fans detested the move. Miami became the new team to hate seemingly overnight, because the competition level was lowered when three of the best players in the NBA’s Eastern Conference joined forces. Since their alliance in 2010, the Heat made four straight Finals appearances and have barely been tested in conference play.
The Eastern conference has come under fire in recent years for its lack of competitive teams, so adding another superstar to the already star-studded Heat roster closes the door on any other Eastern team’s chances. We enjoy the gauntlet that is the NBA Western Conference playoffs, but we change the channel whenever Miami is matched up against an undermanned opponent in the postseason’s early rounds. The possible addition of Anthony could mean more channels changed. Perhaps I’m biased—I enjoy a level playing field and I enjoy an NBA in which teams can mix superb drafting with shrewd business moves through free agency. I grew up despising the absence of a salary cap in baseball, which allowed teams such as the New York Yankees to simply outspend everyone else and stockpile talent on the way to a string of titles. There was no point in even having competition if the Yankees were simply going to nab all the best players. The same sentiment would resurface if the Heat have their way.
On Facebook and Twitter, the reaction to Anthony’s possible move has been ruthless, and popular sporting websites have hinted that a possible lockout could be in store for the 2017 season, following a similar lockout in 2011, one year after the Heat’s trio formed. A possible gathering of four of the top five picks of the 2003 draft would simply cripple the NBA. It would anger fans, owners and throw the word “competition” out the window.
The idea of all four players taking major pay cuts is beautiful, but how much respect would a Miami team of four perennial All-Stars and Olympians get, even if they won a title together? The notion is scary and attractive, exciting and boring, humbling but still greedy. With so many ways to look at the idea, there will be varying opinions. As unpleasant as fan reaction was in 2010, an even harsher backlash could be in store if Miami exits another offseason with the top free agent on the market.