Carmelo (or the media) made it known that he will not be keeping his talents in Denver past this season. He was offered the max three year extension adding about $65M onto his contract to stay with the Nuggets, but all the reports I can find seem to think that since he hasn’t signed it, he isn’t going to. Could be true, could be rumors, but either way it doesn’t sound like Melo is all that into repping the mile high city anymore. Since he has until July of 2011 to sign the extension, I’m not sure why everyone is so sure he will pass up the money. I mean, what if they happen to catch lightning in a bottle and come to terms on a CBA way ahead of schedule? What if Melo finds out he would only be able to make around $10M per year unless he signs his extension before the old CBA expires? Would that make Melo sign his extension and stay since he knows he’d never get the same type of guaranteed money again? I have no idea, nor should I speculate since I’m not an agent or a player that gets to make that kind of decision. All I know is the landscape for the NBA has forever changed in the wake of Lebron’s ill advised decision. The league is already top heavy. Just looking back at the last few decades, the league was either ruled by the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls or Spurs (it feels weird putting the Spurs in there with the other three, but no denying what they did in the Duncan era). The NBA tries hard to preach that there is parody, and I felt that we were getting some parody after the Shaq/Kobe three-peat with new teams winning each year eliminating repeats for a little bit there, but now the landscape feels a lot more clear on who the favorites are again after the Lakers just went back to back. Now, once again isn’t much parody, and it will continue to go that way if superstars keep leaving their teams to join multiple superstars in another uniform. The hostage style takeovers of these teams during contract extensions and free agency is getting a little ridiculous. I feel like the players have all of the power, and while it’s hard to argue that they shouldn’t have the power since they are drawing the crowds, but I think we’ve fallen too far that way. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but give franchises that have the top flight players more power to be able to keep them there or at least make it much tougher for them to decide to leave.
We heard about Melo’s wedding shenanigans and how he, Amare, and CP3 made a pact that they would be forming their own super team in NY. I don’t see it as a better trio than Wade, Lebron, and Bosh, but if it ends up playing out that way it’s going to be VERY tough for the competition for a long time, and is very bad thing for the league as a whole. The shift from staying loyal and winning for a franchise is over.
Durant might be the exception to the rule if he ends up staying in OKC after his extension years are up, but sadly, Durant is the one guy I’d MOST like to see in a new uniform. I just hate to see Presti succeed THAT much. Paul Pierce, Tim Duncan, and Kobe are really the only “superstars” that come to me off the top of my head that stayed with their teams through the duration of their primes. Even though they aren’t done playing, they gave everything they could to their franchises in good and bad times. Not surprisingly, they are in big markets that nobody would really want to leave anyways. So while I commend them for their loyalty even though Kobe demanded a trade/wanted management to improve the team, they were already in a desirable location, so why would they really want to leave. I think everyone knows that to be compared to any legend, you have to win rings. What’s the best way of doing that, proving you’re the best on a team full of superstars. It might be a cop out or whatever you want to call what Lebron and Bosh did, but no player wants to join the list of greats that didn’t win a championship. Lebron still has a very good shot at making people believe he is the man in Miami, and could end up being one of the greatest all time. You can’t really rule anything out for a 25 year old that could easily average a triple double for the next five years.
Now, with all of these top twenty players trying to team up, how bad is it for the rest of the league? I’ll say, very bad. Look at the Cavaliers and Raptors. They are surely going to be in a dogfight for the number one pick next year, and Cleveland was a 65 win team! Toronto barely missed the playoffs. So, if CP3 and Melo leave their teams sometime this year, both of those franchises are nearly as screwed as Cleveland and Toronto (Denver a little less). I don’t think Denver will be terrible, but I don’t see them being a factor in the West without Melo, and they’d be lucky to be the 8th seed just so they can get eliminated by the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. Can’t say the same for New Orleans though, they’d be f***ed just like the Raptors and Cavs. So that makes three playoff caliber teams turned into lottery teams, and only one lottery team (Knicks if they get their trio of stars) that turns into a contender. How is that good for the league!?! Sure Boston, LA, Miami, and NY will be good, but would any other teams be challenging them? Orlando might put up a good fight, but in the end we know the superior talent will win. There’s no doubt that the two home games each year playing these teams have against these new “super teams” will sell out, but what about the other nights of the year? If I’m a fan of the franchises that lost their main man, I’d much rather watch them lose at home on my 50’ plasma over paying $40 to go see them get blown out. At least if I’m at home, I can change the channel when it gets too ugly to watch. Stern is already crying that the league is losing money like crazy. Will that happen even more when these super teams get formed? I don’t see why it wouldn’t make them lose more. While we’re at it we may as well shorten the regular season since we all know who will end up being a factor in the playoffs (barring injuries of course). The league needs its superstars to be spread out for marketing purposes as well as keeping people in the seats. I wonder if this will be addressed in the new CBA? Could we see some rule that teams can control a player and allow those teams to give them two extra years, and add on $2-5M more than other teams can offer? The current CBA was supposed to give the team with the star about to leave the best chance of landing them by making money and an extra year available to offer. Apparently this isn’t enough to persuade players to stay put, unless your name is Joe Johnson, and really, how could he turn that deal down!?!
With the Lebron situation this year, I don’t blame him for leaving or going to join his buddies. I’m going to root against them with everyone else. I’m positive ANYONE would have a lot more fun living in Miami over Cleveland. MCeezy posted some compelling clips on why Cleveland is one of the worst cities in America. I’ve been to Miami, but never wanted or really even thought about going to Cleveland, so I get it. Lebron and Bosh single handedly changed the way teams’ and GMs’ are going to look at their superstars towards the end of their contracts. Teams are going to get what they can for them before they go. If any superstar isn’t signing the extension that is offered by the team, I think we will be seeing numerous teams trying to frantically get what they can instead of trying to make that run at a championship like they are supposed to. I hope it’s just this class that is on this train of thought, but who’s to say these guys aren’t already paving the way for the future of the NBA, and making it the most unbalanced of our professional sports. Maybe Durant will steer the next class back in the right direction, but for now the NBA is losing a lot of fans in a lot of cities because of these superstars trying to align. It’s going to be a very interesting offseason next year, and it won’t really involve the free agents this time around, this time it will involve franchises figuring out a way to keep stars in different cities in the new CBA.