NBA Free Agency 2010: Only a Fool Would Doubt Pat Riley's Genius

Steve SmithSenior Writer IJuly 3, 2010

The second day of the 2010 Free Agent Bonanza has come and gone, and we’re nearly through the third day. Developments are coming hard and fast, but none of the big names have officially made a commitment, which has left many a fan throughout the nation feeling angst-ridden and anxious, especially Miami Heat fans.

To many of them, it may appear that Pat Riley has simply been sitting on his hands, waiting for things to develop, with nothing more than a vague hope that his machinations over the past couple of years will bear fruit: Don't believe it for a second, folks!

So, where are we so far?

The biggest name to agree to a deal is Paul Pierce, who has not-surprisingly decided to stay with the Boston Celtics for the next four years for $61 million. Joe Johnson was offered an outrageously stupid six-year, $119 million deal by the Atlanta Hawks to keep him in Georgia, and he would have to be an absolute fool to pass that offer up.

Some other minor names have been effectively taken off the board, as Rudy Gay was offered an equally ridiculous five-year, $80 million deal by the Memphis Grizzlies, and the Milwaukee Bucks are dishing out the cheddar as they offered John Salmons $40 million and Drew Gooden $30 million on respective five-year deals that would keep them playing in the land of Cheese.

Mike D’Antoni and the New York Knicks have all but sewn up the services of the oft-injured, yet perennial All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire with their five-year, $100 million max contract offer (although Stoudemire is yet to even comment on it). This would reunite Amar'e with the man who fueled his rise to fame with his run-and-gun style in Phoenix, and could get New York back to respectability at least, even if it isn’t likely to bring them a title (and remember, Knicks fans, there’s going to free agency in 2011 also).

The Mavs have offered their favorite “German-born” son, Dirk Nowitzki, a “significant” deal, and we’ll likely know what he thinks about it after he meets with Dallas today.

Beyond that, there are some relatively insignificant signings, such as Darko Milicic being offered $20 million over 4 years, and talk of Steve Blake joining the Lakers, but none of it holds the attention of most NBA fans for more than a hot minute.

What they’re interested in are the three players this free-agent period highlights: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and especially LeBron James.

Rumors about these three have swirled like crazy. If you believe half of them you’d have to be crazy. However, most fans will fall victim to the unethical reporting of most of the writers in the media, who, like Chad Ford of ESPN, have no qualms about twisting a story to fit their desires.

Ford started a media frenzy when he erroneously reported that Dwyane Wade had requested the second meeting he attended with the Chicago Bulls yesterday, thereby making it seem like Wade was leaning toward leaving the Miami Heat.

The facts, though? The Chicago Bulls requested the meeting, and as Wade and his agent have said, he attended it simply as a courtesy.

That didn’t stop Ford and his media cronies from pumping out numerous stories based on this lie that had both Wade and LeBron joining the Bulls, or Wade and Bosh, despite the fact Chicago doesn’t have the cap room to sign two max free agents. But hey, don’t let that tidbit stop you from writing a scintillating bit of rumor-mongering.

Because of all this, the idea that Miami will be signing all three has fallen off the radar of most media outlets, even though it was the biggest rage just a couple of days ago after Stephen A. Smith went on record saying it was a “done deal.”

And frankly, I’m grateful for that. Let the media run with idiotic rumors and foolish stories. I’m still confident Riley is laughing his ass off at them.

There are even pundits asking the foolish question, “What is Riley going to do if he gets none of the three?”

Now, I know haters of the Miami Heat, and Pat Riley, can actually picture that scenario. But truthfully, do they really not see what fools they are for even contemplating such absolute nonsense?

Riley has been waiting on this for two years; planning and scheming, and if you look at the moves he’s made, you’d have to be an utter moron to believe he made some of them without having at the very least a damn good notion (and more likely a rock-hard assurance) that his moves wouldn’t blow up in his face.

One thing that seems to solidify that thought is Michael Beasley. Riley passed on numerous deals for Beasley, and there are teams signing scrubs that aren’t even close to Beasley’s talent for big money. Are you going to tell me Riley couldn’t have gotten something nice from some of those teams for Beasley if he’d been offered to them?

Beasley is the one chip Riley needs to secure a sign-and-trade with Toronto (a very willing trading partner with Riley and the Heat in the past), to get Bosh. That, along with the numerous credible sources over the past week that have talked about the potential deal, which would send Beasley and Chalmers along with the first-round draft pick the Raptors gave Miami in the Jermaine O’Neal deal, to Toronto for Chris Bosh.

Now, if Bosh is coming to South Beach, does anyone seriously doubt Wade wouldn’t return, even if LeBron doesn’t decide to join them in Miami? If LeBron comes (and Miami in that scenario would be able to offer LeBron a max contract for five years), then you have a “Superteam.” If LeBron defers, the Heat would still be able to go out and bring in another very good player to pair with Wade and Bosh.

My belief, as I’ve stated all week, is that this deal was been done long ago. The reasons for all the meetings, as a select few have surmised, is nothing more than hoopla. A smokescreen if you will; possibly engineered by Pat Riley himself, in order to prevent David Stern from nixing the whole deal by saying there was collusion.

You have to remember, Pat Riley hasn’t forgotten what happened with the Juwon Howard fiasco. Those of you who have might want to google it.

Riley has made this free agency period his life's work. This will be his lasting legacy. Bringing a “Superteam” to Miami will solidify him as the greatest basketball executive to ever work in the NBA, and if he returns to the bench to coach that team, he could easily surpass even Phil Jackson’s number of titles, making him the greatest coach in NBA history as well.

He hasn’t made all the moves he’s made, which look very, very risky if he hasn’t gotten some assurances down the line, if he thought they would blow up in his face and tarnish his legacy completely. For that is precisely what would happen if he’s unable to deliver at least two of the three big names. If he doesn’t create a dynasty as he promises, and strikes out on all three, he will be vilified like no other for having destroyed the Heat.

Riles ain’t that stupid, and those who think he is need a serious mental health checkup.

Finally, while there are some decent scenarios where Wade, or LeBron, or Bosh can team up with one of the others, or with players like Derrick Rose in Chicago, none of the scenarios offer them the chance to play together as a troika, which is the only thing, in my view, that is going to guarantee them titles for the next five to seven years.

Although Wade has gotten a ring, all three have a burning desire to hoist that Larry O’Brien Trophy overhead numerous times. LeBron knows that unless he gets some titles soon, his legacy might be irretrievably tarnished as badly as Riley’s would (in fact even worse, since Riley is still a Hall of Fame coach with five rings).

So, when the meetings are all over, and when the dust settles, I’m still sure Riley, Wade, LeBron, and Bosh will be having a press conference sometime early next week to announce the formation of the “South Beach Superteam.”

Can all you haters handle it?


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