The Miami Heat just won their second straight NBA title, and every rotation player (except Chris Andersen) is under contract for next season. And yet, there's still a pervasive notion that the champs could improve their team by trading Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.
That's how it works in the NBA, apparently: Before the celebratory confetti stops falling from the rafters, everyone wants to know how things could be better next year.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons for the Heat to consider moving the lesser members of their vaunted Big Three, not the least of which is the financial one. If Miami keeps its current roster intact, it'll be looking at a tax hit of $37 million next year. Even for a franchise that rakes in the dough like the Heat, that kind of money matters.
In addition, there's the fact that the San Antonio Spurs were 5.2 seconds away from winning the whole thing. Were it not for a few timely bounces and a pair of massive shots, the Heat would have been watching Tim Duncan collect his fifth Larry O'Brien trophy from David Stern.
Technically, it's probably accurate to say that the Heat could improve themselves by dealing Wade or Bosh.
Bigger centers terrorized the Heat during the postseason. Roy Hibbert wore Bosh out on both ends throughout the Eastern Conference Finals, and rebounding was an enormous problem for Miami all season long. By featuring Bosh as the lone big man on the court for such a huge portion of minutes, the Heat essentially sacrificed any real chance of competing on the boards.
Duncan had similar success against Bosh, tuning him up for a combined 54 points and 29 rebounds in Games 6 and 7 of the finals.
If the Heat want to get bigger, stronger and more capable on the glass, trading Bosh is one way to do that.
But remember, Miami's offense was so effective and its defense so quick because of what Bosh brought to the table. Small ball ultimately produced results, meaning the act of trading Bosh could amount to fixing something that's not broken.
And then there's Wade, who's practically a god in Miami.
There's no doubt that the Heat's longest tenured player is on the downslope of his career. After putting up an excellent regular season, Wade slumped badly. Suffering from knee problems for the second consecutive postseason, James' key sidekick produced playoff averages of just 15.9 points on 45.7 percent shooting. And worst of all, his lack of explosion prevented him from attacking the rim.
He averaged just 3.6 free-throw attempts per game in the postseason.
We saw throughout the playoffs that Wade's inability to space the floor was a major detriment to both James and the team as a whole. And the finals provided the clearest proof.
When James was on the floor against the Spurs without Wade, the Heat posted an absurd offensive rating of 132.1. For reference, their league-leading figure in the regular season was just 110.3. And when James shared the court with Wade, Miami posted an offensive rating of just 99.5, which would have ranked 26th in the NBA during the regular season.
Numbers aside, Wade crowded the floor, couldn't hit a jumper and generally made it impossible to create enough space for James to get good looks in the lane. Based on the most recent information available, Wade is not an ideal partner for LBJ.
Wade's game won't age well, as he has never developed a reliable shot and all but ignores the existence of the three-point line. If sentiment wasn't a factor, the Heat would certainly be trying to turn him into a couple of younger pieces to fill out the rotation.
But trading Wade is almost unthinkable for the Heat. His ties to the franchise and the city are deep, and losing him would drastically reshape the team's image. We're not talking about the Spurs trading Duncan here, but we're close.
So, the Heat have plenty of reasons to at least think about trading Bosh and Wade, and you can bet that the front office is at least discussing the possibility quietly. But there are even more reasons why any potential deals simply aren't realistic.
For starters, both Wade and Bosh are on the hook for about $60 million over the next three years. Because of Wade's decline and Bosh's recently spotty performances, no team is going to be willing to absorb that kind of salary without burying the Heat with their own bad contracts in return.
Aside from the money, the Heat simply can't risk tearing up a team that James obviously likes. Because LBJ (and Wade and Bosh, for that matter) can exercise early termination options after the 2013-14 season, the Heat can't afford to upset James by trading away the best supporting players he has—especially because there's little chance the Heat could get fair value in return.
Ultimately, the Heat could and should be thinking about the option of trading Wade or Bosh eventually. But because of the logistics involved, it's highly unlikely that either player will be on the move any time soon.