I don’t know what it’s like to have a pile of cash to dip into, but if I did know, I surely wouldn’t dig deep into my pockets the way owners of a handful of NBA teams have done this off season.
To say they wasted millions would not be unfair. They threw around their wealth like a drunk in a Vegas men’s club. They made it rain. And after the rain stopped, what did they have?
Certainly, that’s what teams like Houston, Cleveland, Charlotte, Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee and Minnesota came away with during the free agent period. OK, sometimes nothing is a real cool hand, but spending millions on a selfish, under-performer like J.R. Smith and the one-dimensional J.J. Redick looks as if teams went shopping in the Dollar Store.
With free agency winding down, not a single NBA team improved itself markedly. Each team that spent insanely will remain in the middle of the pack or wherever they were last season. No team added enough talent to where it can dream of mounting a serious challenge to the Miami Heat.
Of course, the list of NBA free agents this summer didn’t include a difference-maker. No one was a LeBron James, a Dwyane Wade or a Chris Bosh, all men whose free agency in 2010 allows them to rake in close to $20 million a season. Their decision to join forces was strategic, and their convenient alliance left the rest of the NBA trying to match them.
LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh, however, will have few worries about that happening next season. Even with the season five months away, the NBA champion Heat look as if they will be a 70-win team.
What team picked up enough firepower and muscle to push Miami off the top of the heap?
Free agency is about retooling, about taking what didn’t work and filling in broken areas with better, more reliable parts. The hope is that teams will make off-season moves that will prepare them to compete against whichever team is No. 1.
An addition here, another there and, well … maybe a team can pull itself from the junk pile.
In some years, a team can, but when teams combine to spend more than $912 million — and counting — on junk like Andrew Bynum, Eric Maynor and Pablo Prigioni, how can their fans expect to see a great return? Junk is junk, and you won’t find gold in this junk pile even if you buried the gold there yourself.
That’s what is most unsettling about all of this spending. Now, don’t look at this as an anti-Heat thing; it is not. It’s more about my wanting the NBA to have a competitive league — competitive league from top to bottom. The only competition next season will be among the handful of pretenders to the title, for the only way the Heat don’t repeat is if James or Wade is injured.
The Heat are destined to three-peat as the Bulls did during Michael Jordan’s heyday, and if the Heat do three-peat, they will push LeBron closer to a place he’s longed to be: people’s conversation as the best NBA player ever.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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