The Decision Part Two: One Week After
It’s been a week since LeBron James announced to the world that he would be leaving Miami and taking his talents home to Cleveland after four seasons with the Heat and the dust has finally almost settled. Once James announced that he would once again be a Cavalier, dominoes across the league began to fall, but no two teams have been more influenced by King James’ decision than Cleveland and Miami.
After four straight years in the NBA Finals, the Heat appear to be headed back down to the middle of the pack while the Cavaliers, who haven’t made the playoffs or won more than 35 games since James left town, look as if they may be on the inside track to make it to the NBA’s championship round.
Here’s a brief look at some of the players who are still in Miami after James’ departure and some of the guys who will be in Cleveland this season.
Dwyane Wade: After agreeing to a multi-year contract with the Heat, Wade and his bad knees will remain in South Beach. After playing second-fiddle to James, Wade will look to reassert himself as top dog in Miami. Whether he’s able to do it is another issue entirely.
Chris Bosh: All eyes will be on Wade with James out of the picture, but Bosh may gain the most in the King’s absence. A slightly underrated player since his move to Miami, Bosh has actually been sneaky good for the Heat at times and he has the chance to emerge as a true No. 1 player in the NBA once again.
Shabazz Napier, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole: Not having a quality point guard was one of the major things that hurt Miami last year but the organization will be bringing back both of their guys from last year. If they are smart, they’ll put Chalmers and Cole on the bench until further notice and let Napier run roughshod over the NBA like he did in the NCAA tournament. Napier just needs to quit it with his Twitter.
Josh McRoberts: After having a breakout season last year in Charlotte, the versatile big man came to Miami in the hope of getting a ring with James. That is no longer an option, but the signing of the ex-Dukie is still one of Miami’s better moves. McRoberts’ game is similar to Bosh’s, but is it ever really a bad thing to have guys who can (theoretically) defend opposing centers, grab rebounds and shoot the three?
Luol Deng: If this were a few years ago, replacing James with Deng wouldn’t be equal, but it would at least be reasonable. Now, after a season where he was limited by an Achilles injury, Deng is a major question mark and the Heat are taking a huge gamble by banking on him bouncing back.
Danny Granger: He once had a chance to be a top player in the league, but injuries have reduced Granger to an afterthought. It would be great to see him get himself back playing at a high level in Miami, but there’s enough recent history to indicate that won’t happen.
LeBron James: He’s pretty good. He’s also apparently the most popular U.S. athlete.
Kyrie Irving: He may not be as popular, but he’s also pretty good and will probably be the best player that James has played with recently. Irving is still young and injuries are a concern, but the upside that he offers is far greater than what Bosh and especially Wade are bringing to the table at this point in their careers.
Dion Waiters: The youngster has had an up-and-down career thus far, and reports that he does not get along with Irving don’t bode well for his future in Cleveland. If Ray Allen decides to sign with the Cavs, Waiters could be as good as gone.
James Jones and Mike Miller: Two ex-Miami sharpshooters are coming up to Cleveland to help bring a championship home to Ohio. Neither one probably has much left in the tank, but they will help stretch opposing defenses and give the Cavs guaranteed outside shooting in the event that the team deals Waiters or Allen doesn’t sign.
Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Andrew Wiggins: If the roster remains relatively unchanged, look for Thompson and Wiggins to continue to develop while Varejao shines like Joakim Noah-lite alongside James like he did five years ago. If the team deals for Kevin Love, Thompson, Wiggins and Waiters could all be a part of it.
Anthony Bennett: The No. 1 pick that time forgot, there have been a few rumblings that Bennett is finally in-shape and ready to contribute. Probably best to take a wait-and-see approach with him, but there’s a chance that Bennett could be a nice piece for a Cleveland team that now has NBA Finals written all over it.
Evan Bleier is a freelance writer based out of wherever he can plug in his laptop. You can send him questions, comments and Buffalo wing suggestions @itishowitis or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook
Photo Credit: Getty