NBA: Free Agency Bonanza Draws Near

On July 1, when the NBA Free Agency Market draws near, a lot of questions will be answered, concerning the fate of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. A lot of teams, most notably, the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, and the  Houston Rockets, are all bidding their highest dollars in an effort to bring in the top scorers in the league to their team. While the Miami Heat are adamant in their goal to keep LeBron in South Beach, the Knicks, under the direction of former Bulls and Lakers coach Phil Jackson, look to bring a lot of added pieces to keep Carmelo around. Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Bosh also join LeBron as free agents, opting out of their contracts, too. As far as Wade , Haslem, and Bosh are concerned, the most likely scenario for them is that all three of them could remain in Miami, taking lesser contracts, while saving up their salary to lure Trevor Ariza, Marcin Gortat, Kyle Lowry, and/or Pau Gasol. With Shabazz Napier already drafted and taken in by the Heat, no thanks to the request of LeBron, one would have to assume that LeBron would be staying around in Miami longer, but that would have to be decided once LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and Haslem agree to the new deals laid before them. Another free agent worth noting is Kevin Love, who has been looking at other teams such as the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Chicago Bulls. Kevin Love has played much of his career with the Minnesota Timberwolves, leading them in double doubles. Despite the fact that Minnesota has been working egregiously towards making a playoff appearance, one has to wonder if Kevin Love will continue to carry the load with Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic as they continue to improve the Wolves’ chances of playing in the postseason. With all these storylines unfolding on July 1, will LeBron an Carmelo look toward greener pastures with different teams, or playing together? Do any of the teams have a plan B, in case their plan A doesn’t work out? All will be answered when the free agents make their decisions on who they should commit to. 

BREAKING NEWS: LeBron James to Opt Out of His Contract, and How This Would Affect the Miami Heat and the NBA

By now, you probably have heard the news that LeBron James is optioning out of his contract with the Miami Heat. This comes as a shock to many, especially to the Heat organization. There are many speculations as to where LeBron could play for next season. Teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, and even the Cleveland Cavaliers have all shown interest in signing LeBron, but that doesn’t mean the Miami Heat won’t try to counteract. One of the many things that Miami must address is their roster. Despite having made the NBA Finals four consecutive times, and only winning two titles in the Big 3 era, Miami has an aging roster that were exposed glaringly by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. With Shane Battier retired, Dwyane Wade possibly past his prime, Chris Bosh having done little to help Miami’s cause, Mario Chalmers' abysmal play, Ray Allen contemplating retirement, and Udonis Haslem and Chris “Birdman” Andersen both having options to play elsewhere, the uncertainty has become a harsh reality for the Heat. With only Norris Cole in the salary books for Miami, Pat Riley and company would have to do a lot of wheeling and dealing to not only restructure the roster, but also find a way to keep their Big 3 intact. Miami would most likely have to cut some talent loose, and bring in some improved talents such as Kyle Lowry and Trevor Ariza. Another issue that needs to be resolved for Miami, is their rebounding. Miami has ranked lower in this category, despite having big men like Bosh and Andersen. Greg Oden was brought in to help strengthen Miami’s big men on the rebounding and defensive end, but instead, has done minimal, especially when he could’ve helped them defend the paint. It’s now an afterthought when you think of what could’ve been for Oden. If Miami wants to address the issue on rebounding, they would have to sign Pau Gasol or draft a big man, which would most likely not happen, since Miami has the 26th pick in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft, they could select a Point Guard to replace Chalmers. With all that I have mentioned regarding LeBron James and the future of the Miami Heat, Where does Carmelo Anthony fit in to all of this? Carmelo Anthony also opted out of his contract with the Knicks, declaring for free agency as well. Among the teams looking to sign Carmelo are Houston, Chicago, L.A. Lakers, and Miami. Of those four teams, Chicago looks to be the clear favorite, while L.A. Lakers and Houston seem not too far behind, leaving Miami a possible slim and none chance. The possibility of Carmelo and LeBron playing in Miami is a pipe dream to some. Same could be said for both men playing for the Lakers with Kobe Bryant. Now that LeBron James has opted out of his contract, well Miami find a way to keep him around? Or will LeBron move on? The Free Agency Market begins on July 1. I’m Deron Butler, reminding you to keep it locked on I Got Next!

2014 NBA Finals Game 4 Aftermath

Heading into Game 4, Miami had history on their side, and the ability to not lose twice. But it will be more of a far cry from that expectation as the Miami Heat were once again trounced by the San Antonio Spurs, who have played a lot better than Miami. LeBron did his part for his team, dropping 28 points, but it was teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, along with the rest of the bench that found themselves floundering again. The spotlight was once again on Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw, who put on a display of assists that made Minnesota Timberwolves Point Guard, Ricky Rubio tweet “That Boris Diaw pass” in reference to his behind the back assist. Another duo of Spurs worth mentioning is Patty Mills, who have been energetic for his team, providing a boost off the bench, and Tony Parker, who scored 19 points. One thing to point out for the Heat was that Udonis Haslem, a reliable player on both ends of the floor for Miami, came into the late stages of the game, not to mention James Jones scoring 11 points in under the 2 minutes he was on the floor over Wade’s 10 points in 33 minutes. The Miami Heat are sinking like the Titanic, and with many expecting them to win Game 4 and tie the series at 2, it doesn’t seem like the Heat are poised or precise like they once were. Mario Chalmers is still inconsistent, Wade is starting to hear that he’s a shell of his former self, and coach Erik Spolestra has to be wondering why he hasn’t figured out a way to stop San Antonio’s offensive production. With Game 5 in San Antonio on Sunday, the Heat are down 3 games to 1, and cannot afford to lose another game. Coach Spolestra has to get it through himself and his team that they now have to play with a sense of urgency. They didn’t play like they had that edge in the last 2 games, but right now, Miami is falling apart in front of the basketball world. It should be also noted that Heat fans were booing Miami and leaving the American Airlines Arena yet again after another abysmal performance by their team. Miami has faced elimination time and again, and has always delivered, dating back to their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics in 2012. Right now, Miami has to play like they deserve to be call champions before it is all said and done. It would have to take a lot of reading the offense, and finding a way to rotate on defense, and shutting down the perimeter jump shooters, having smart matchups (looking at Wade and why he was defending Boris Diaw), and defending the paint. On offense, it would be all about attacking the rim, before opening up to the mid range game and then the 3 point shots. San Antonio doesn’t get much praise for their style of execution, and maybe that’s a good thing when you consider how well they play as a team, and Kawhi Leonard transiting to become a team leader, and a replacement for Tim Duncan. Right now, both teams look towards Sunday night as Game 5 looms on the horizon. Will San Antonio be able close out the series? Or will Miami find a way to fight with some resiliency? For homework, watch Game 5 of the NBA Finals, starting at 8 on ABC. I’m Deron Butler, telling you to keep it locked on I Got Next!

2014 NBA Finals: Games 2 and 3 Aftermath

It was a tale of two games for the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. In Game 2, the Miami Heat looked to avenge their Game 1 loss, and did so in convincing fashion as LeBron James attacked the Spurs with a 35 point, 10 rebound double double performance, followed by a clutch assist by Chris Bosh to Dwyane Wade, en route to a 98-96 victory over San Antonio. Not to be outdone, The San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan had a double double of his own, tying with Magic Johnson for the most double doubles in NBA Playoffs history. Speaking of history, The Spurs looked to get the better of the Heat in their homecourt, in which they exploded with a 71 point barrage in the first half, led by Kawhi Leonard. Spurs Coach Gregg Poppovich told the press that he won’t expect his team to make 71 points again. During much of Game 3, Miami were having a hard time trying to get back into the game, but that potential chance to for a resurge was halted by less than stellar defense, turnovers, not fighting for the rebounds, and unnecessary fouls. One thing that should also be pointed out would be that Mario Chalmers was having a bad game, let alone, not being able to contribute like he would’ve liked to. He had scored minimally and cost a lot of mistakes. The only scenarios for Chalmers is that he either lets the game come to him, allowing him to get back into the rhythm again, or have Norris Cole, who has been playing better than Chalmers, start in his place. Another thing to point out was the absence of Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier on the offensive and defense productive ends. Rashard Lewis did his part in his efforts to help the Heat, but an offensive and aggressive presence of Haslem, and the defensive schemes of Battier would’ve help the Heat greatly. With Game 3 written in the books, Game 4 now is important to Miami. Heat Coach Erik Spolestra told the press that his team needs to work on defense a lot more, something that hurt Miami a lot more than anything. Miami looks to undo the defensive collapse and mental errors they suffered in Game 3, in turn for a successful Game 4, and a chance to tie the series. Will Miami be able to bounce back? For all we know is that Miami never loses back to back and with San Antonio winning Game 3 (in which 90% of the time the winner of a Game 3 goes on to win the title), it should be even more interesting to see. For homework, watch Game 4 of the NBA Finals on ABC, starting at 9. I’m Deron Butler, telling you to keep it locked on I Got Next!