Just Hold On, and Stay Home
It started in 2010. That summer the NBA changed drastically and still has not been the same since. It was the summer where players began to take power into their own hands, abandoning the teams that drafted them and teaming up with other stars to win championships.
It started with LeBron James, of course, and then permeated itself to others, namely Carmelo and Dwight Howard. With the creation of the Heat’s Big 3, most of the rest of the NBA made clearing cap space, or making blockbuster trades in an effort to create a super team, their number one prerogative.
Teams like the Knicks and Nets have sabotaged themselves in the present and limited themselves in the future in pursuit of this super team. The Lakers ended up missing the playoffs and having their worst season since moving to LA after they tried to build a super team. The Rockets are still trying to reach that pedestal of super team greatness, but, regardless, seem to be one piece away from never making the Western Conference Finals. And the Miami Heat are, of course two time NBA Champions…but they lost two Finals, both in embarrassing fashion.
So embarrassing, I think, that it has caused some tears in the fabric of the NBA landscape. With the Heat’s recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the Final (fittingly ending on San Antonio’s home court) the league saw the value of the difference between “built vs. bought.” They saw how building a super team is flawed and almost certainly unsustainable.
Just look at who the Heat lost to both times in the Finals. They were against teams who shared the ball excellently and trusted their role players. Miami’s problem is they can’t trust their role players against elite competition. They simply aren't talented enough. And that goes back to the super team mirage; a good team cannot be build centered on a couple of star players. The role players need to be capable.
I believe we are starting to see a changing of the guard in the NBA where executives, and players alike, no longer aim for super teams. Just look at the NBA Free Agency so far. Kyle Lowry was rumored to be joining the star-studded Rockets or Heat, but he chose to sign back with the Raptors. Dirk basically sealed his legacy as a Maverick for life with his most recent signing. Kyrie Irving even decided to stay with the Cavs! The list goes one with players like Marcin Gortat, Spencer Hawes and Avery Bradley, all players rumored to have been interested in signing with star-studded teams.
Just a couple of seasons ago, things would've been different. Irving would have signed for a shorter deal with an option to give him flexibility. Gortat and Lowry probably would've taken less to sign with the Heat. These days, the league and the players aren't interested in taking pay cuts to play with super reams. They aren't interested in switching teams and ruining their legacy. These days they want max deals!
We can see the change in the remaining free agents too. LeBron isn't jumping ship to join a super team in Houston, Golden State or in LA with the Clippers. No, he's either staying loyal to his declining Big 3 or going back home to Cleveland. Carmelo, on the other hand, looks more and more like he is staying in New York.
That all being said, the point I am trying to make is this; this offseason should be the death, burial and procession of the “super team.” Ever since LeBron made it okay to leave your team in pursuit of a championship we’ve seen Dwight Howard play for more teams than Sebastian Telfair, the Knicks, Nets and Rockets struggle in mediocrity, a conference become so decimated they had to put a 38-44 team in the playoffs, a storied franchise endure some of its worse years, and that franchise’s neighbor/roommate endure some of its best years ironically. It’s time for players to just stick to the teams that drafted them, and try to build winners there instead of teaming with stars.
The super team mold only works if you have LeBron James, and even then it is still flawed because you are financially restricted. The best way is to build your team through smart signings and draft choices. Hopefully after this offseason the players fully realize that not only is home where the heart is…it’s where the most money and best chance to win is.