Reports have surfaced that the Miami Heat may be seriously considering adding soon-to-be free agent Carmelo Anthony to the mix. The New York Knicks all-star forward has until June 23rd to declare whether or not he will opt out of the final year of his current contract and test the free agent market. Anthony has stated before that he wants to become a free agent this summer, so now appears to be his chance.
From a salary cap standpoint, adding Anthony is plausible for Miami if the Big Three (Wade, James, Bosh) would all agree to exercise their early termination options this summer and sign for less money in their new contracts. We have already seen Wade, James, and Bosh collaborate on a similar project in 2010, so it doesn’t seem too far fetched if they are all plotting behind the scenes to re-work their own deals in an attempt to add their buddy Melo. Like the Big Three in Miami, Anthony doesn’t seem to be motivated by a max contract. Under the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks can offer Anthony the highest dollar amount of any team in the NBA. Therefore, if money was the only desire for Melo, he would have re-signed with the Knicks by now. Losing out on tens of millions of dollars by declaring for free agency doesn’t seem to be enough of an incentive for NBA star players to stay with their respective teams. LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwight Howard all left money on the table to sign elsewhere, and Anthony is likely to follow suit.
From a basketball standpoint, the idea of a Big Four makes sense for both Anthony and the Heat. Anthony has a grand total of 0 NBA championships to his credit and is currently stuck on a bad team in New York with little chance of contending for a title in the near future. And having just celebrated his 30th birthday on May 29th, Anthony’s biological clock to win an NBA crown is ticking. Melo may feel pressure to jump ship now while he is still in his prime rather than wait to see if Knicks team president Phil Jackson is able turn things around in New York.
As for the Miami Heat, adding another superstar to the equation makes sense considering the recent injury history and overall decline of Dwyane Wade. Wade missed 28 games this past season due to injury and averaged 19 points per game, his lowest scoring average since his rookie season. Wade is also the oldest member of the Big Three as he will turn 33 in January. Melo, just one year removed from his NBA scoring title, would certainly make up for any scoring deficiencies as Wade goes deeper into his career.
But from a logistics standpoint, if Melo does in fact sign with the Heat, this is such a bad look for the NBA brand in my opinion because let’s face it: all of these players are friends with each other and must have talked about joining the same team together. The integrity and credibility of the league as a whole takes a serious blow if elite-level players are actively conspiring amongst one another to join forces and form super teams. I refuse to believe that it was mere coincidence that Wade, James, and Bosh were all free-agents at the same exact time and just so happened to sign with the Miami Heat. The Big Three already pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes once before, but if Melo signs with the Heat this summer, it should send a red flag that player tampering is probably going on within the NBA.
While it would be very difficult to monitor whether or not players are secretly planning to sign with certain teams, the issue needs to be looked into by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Team owners would be severely penalized if there was any evidence of collusion on their part, so it is only fair that players be held accountable as well. If nothing is done about this situation and these super teams are allowed to grow, the entire competitive balance of the league will be thrown out of whack. As a result, the overall product will be cheapened as the league will start to seem choreographed and fake, much like the WWE.
As a sports fan, I eventually grew out of pro wrestling once I realized it was fake. If this alarming trend of super teams continues in professional basketball, I may grow out of the NBA as well.