Heat may be better off trading Bosh
By the end of this week, Chris Bosh’s seat might be hotter than Erik Spoelstra’s.
Whenever the Miami Heat lose a game, Twitter erupts with Pat Riley-to-replace-Spoelstra jokes.
Maybe it’s true. Or maybe Pat Riley sees what I see. Chris Bosh is too soft to be the third wheel of the “Big Three.” You could see it Friday night when New Orleans center Emeka Okafor stitched clown suits for the Miami bigs in the Heat’s second loss of the young season.
A career 13-point scorer, Okafor dropped 26 and 13 on the Heat, sinking 12 of 13 shots. Off the bench, New Orleans reserve power forward Jason Smith, a second-year 7-footer, added 12 points and six boards. Toss in Chris Paul’s 19 dimes, and the Hornets pretty much duplicated the formula Boston used to upset Miami — excellent point guard play (Rajon Rondo 17 assists) and front-court dominance at both ends of the court (51 points and 31 rebounds from Shaq, Big Baby, KG and Paul Pierce).
It’s a formula the Utah Jazz will try to duplicate Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena with Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. And then Thursday, the Celtics travel to Miami for a rematch.
This is an important two-game test for Bosh.
We all pretty much agree LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are capable of impersonating Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Does Bosh have any Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant or Charles Oakley in his 6-foot-11, 235-pound frame?
Is Bosh a homeless man’s Dirk Nowitzki, a perimeter big man who put up inflated scoring and rebounding numbers because when visiting NBA players cross the Canadian border they put far more effort into acquiring condoms, loonies and a strip-club champagne room than their on-court assignments?
On the NBA circuit, Toronto is White Vegas, where jungle fever is celebrated by local strippers and escorts 41 times a year. Toronto is a great city to put up numbers and build a rep.
Miami, post-The Decision, is the perfect place to get exposed.
The Heat don’t need a Big Three. Wade and James need a rebounding and defensive goon.
The Great Ones — particularly finesse players — always need a Dave Semenko. (Oh, you thought I couldn’t make a hockey analogy?)
Jordan had Oakley and Grant and Rodman. Magic had Rambis. Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars had Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and Rodman. Kobe had Shaq and now he has Ron Artest.
Look at Boston’s “Big Three.” Kevin Garnett is a trash-talking, cheap-shot-taking goon.
James and Wade could both beat up Chris Bosh. The third wheel, especially if he’s a front-court player, can’t be the softest of the trio. It won’t work. It screws up chemistry. It’s going to make the Heat vulnerable to big, strong rebounding and defensive teams.
It allows a good post scorer — Okafor — to masquerade as Moses Malone for a night.
Bosh had one rebound against the Hornets. He’s averaging 5.4 boards through seven games — five fewer than he averaged in White Vegas last season.
Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony can’t fix this. They’re not long enough, bulky enough, tough enough, talented enough or hyper enough to give the Heat what they’ll need to beat the serious title contenders (Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Antonio) or maybe even the pretenders (New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta) in a seven-game series.
Miami’s lone 7-footer, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, is a spot-up shooter. He’s not a defender. He can only give the Heat 15 good minutes.
Jordan’s Bulls not only employed Rodman and Grant, but Phil Jackson kept a stable of assignment-sound big defenders (Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley, Bill Wennington, Will Perdue, Scott Williams).
Bosh has to step up. This week.
By Christmas, if he hasn’t drastically changed his approach and production, Pat Riley will surely explore every option to move Bosh and acquire a goon.
OK, I’m not an NBA trade expert. I don’t fully grasp how you get the contracts to match up and the value of “expiring” contracts. I’m just going to suggest the kind of players who could make James and Wade as lethal as Jordan and Pippen.
Cleveland’s Anderson Varejao and Houston’s Luis Scola should be at the top of Riley’s wish list.
Varejao is ideal. He’s high energy. He’s 6-10. He’s played with LeBron. Scola is off to a ridiculous start in Houston, putting up 22 and 12 through six games. Scola (and Varejao) makes half as much money as Bosh. Scola and Jared Jeffries, a Houston sub and good passer, could make a huge impact in Miami. (Yes, I think Jeffries, in the right situation, can be an effective role player!)
By the way, the Heat aren’t the only Eastern Conference title contender who should be looking for a toughness upgrade. Orlando needs similar help. Sans Dwight Howard, the Magic are as soft as any team in the league.
If I’m Doc Rivers, I rest my stars all season, settle for a healthy playoff roster and the eight seed and expose the Heat and the Magic in the postseason.
If I’m Pat Riley, I watch the next two games very closely. If things go poorly for Bosh, I bring Dwyane Wade into my office and question him about how upset he and LeBron will be if the “Big Three” undergoes an official name change.
The “Big Two” makes the most sense.