Cohen: Popular Questions Analyzed

By Josh Cohen
June 6, 2012's Josh Cohen has kept track of some of the more popular questions that fans have, including whether Miami would consider trading any of the Big Three if it loses in the conference finals.

If the Miami Heat lose in the conference finals to the Boston Celtics, do you think Miami trades any of the Big Three?

Well for one, there will be a lot of pressure on Pat Riley and the Heat front office to make changes. The media has already started pushing for a trade of one of the Big Three if they are eliminated before the NBA Finals even begin.

Secondly, some may argue that the chemistry, particularly between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, is unreliable and decayed. They both depend on explosiveness and cracking perimeter defenses, but largely because of a deprived supporting cast they sometimes have to rely on their unpredictable outside shooting.

Third, and I just alluded to it, the Heat’s role players are practically invisible. Shane Battier, while defensively valuable, is extremely limited on offense, Mike Miller can barely walk because of his reoccurring back issues, Mario Chalmers, though somewhat improved, is a substandard floor general and collectively Miami has essentially no size for the purpose of intimidation.

Yet, regardless of all these problems, the Heat may alleviate the disappointment by claiming Chris Bosh’s injury and absence denied them from reaching their potential.

It’s convoluted, for sure.

On one hand, even if they don’t win the title this season or advance to the Finals for that matter, the Heat realize they will perennially be one of the elite teams in the NBA. Just think about all the teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs or are an ordinary one-and-done postseason club. They all wish they had what the Heat have.

On the other hand, it just seems that all the burden and villainous reputations are overwhelming the Heat – both physically and mentally. Sometimes they just don’t look happy and would be relieved to divide the stars.

If the Heat did decide to shatter the force that so many thought was unconquerable when they united in 2010, whom would they trade and what would they expect in return?

Well, one would believe that while he hasn’t been quite as “dominant” as past years, Wade will always be the team’s franchise player and the star that the fans of Miami adore and cherish. It would be rather stunning if Miami even considered parting ways with the guy that led it to a championship in 2006.

LeBron, meanwhile, is the team’s best player. He really has been the only member of the Heat to deliver outstanding performances on a game-to-game basis in this year’s playoffs.

However, the criticism he gets, especially because of his inability to hit the clutch shots, makes James a continuous target. When Miami loses, James loses. It’s really as simple as that.

You also have to wonder if LeBron, who earned MVP honors this season, is drained from all the disparagement. There were the reports a few months ago that he regretted leaving Cleveland. There were reports that he wasn’t entirely content in Miami.

Each of the Big Three, James, Wade and Bosh, can become unrestricted free agents in 2014 if they each decided to exercise their early termination options. That summer is vastly approaching and Miami probably knows if a title is not won by that time, an exit strategy will indeed ensue.

It will create an enthralling debate for the next few months, but with what’s happening in Orlando, would a Dwight for LeBron trade be discussed? Would Howard commit long term to the Heat if he were traded there? Would the Magic welcome James if Miami were interested in dealing him? It’s a fascinating discussion.

Would the Heat specifically trade one of the Big Three to attain several valuable role players to team with the remaining two stars? For instance, would Miami deal Bosh to a team seeking an All-Star power forward and willing to relinquish a variety of assets? This philosophy would insinuate that the Heat prefer quantity to quality.

If the Heat lose to the Celtics in either Game 6 or 7, there will be a change in conditions. Habitual sunshine will turn into gloomy clouds.

How different do you think the Magic’s roster will look next season?

Well obviously much will depend on the future of Dwight Howard and whether he will commit long term to the Magic and sign an extension or if the new general manager decides to deal him if he doesn’t pledge.

Considering there will also be a new coach in town, strategy and tactics may alter from what Stan Van Gundy implemented over the last several seasons. As a result, whoever the new coach is may have a specific formula that requires distinctive abilities from his players.

Ryan Anderson will be a restricted free agent; Jameer Nelson and Earl Clark both have the options to become unrestricted free agents and Orlando can exercise a team option on Daniel Orton.

The Magic made it clear many times throughout this past season that they would prefer to keep Anderson and match any impending offer sheet from another team.

But, the Magic will have to weigh his value once a deal is presented to him and determine whether the amount is worth the commitment. It’s always complicated, especially when it’s very obscure what Anderson’s value is.

Will a team offer Ryan, let’s say, four years and $40 million? How about three years and $25 million? There is a big gap between those two offers.

Anderson, who earned Most Improved Player honors after averaging 16.1 points and 7.7 rebounds, proved he is on the rise and has skills that are very exceptional compared to other power forwards. He is a stretch four who led the league in threes made and is relentless on the glass.

It’s also apparent that Anderson, who struggled in Orlando’s first round series against Indiana, has significantly more value if he is teamed with Howard vs. if he isn’t. This notion may impact any decisions that are made by the new GM.

Exploring trade options, which all front office executives survey every offseason, will play a big part as well. Will the Magic attempt to acquire a second “star” to try and team him with Dwight and what players may be available?

Two names that are very popular in discussions are Atlanta’s Josh Smith and Milwaukee’s Monta Ellis. Smith has repeatedly stated he would prefer a change of scenery from his hometown, while Ellis pretty much just arrived in Milwaukee after the Warriors traded him to the Bucks at the trade deadline this past season.

From the Magic’s standpoint, it’s very difficult to assess some of their players’ trade value. If the goal of the new GM were to try and obtain a borderline All-Star to team with Dwight, one would assume he or she would try and formulate packages that may potentially appeal to teams contemplating trading one of their top players.

We could all day exhaust our efforts proposing a million different trade offers that involve the Magic, but ultimately rival executives have distinct views of what they value. This is what the new GM will have to contend with.

After two consecutive first round playoff exits, some feel it is time for a team makeover. Others may imply that the Magic generally played very well but Howard’s injury denied them from reaching their full potential.

Depending on how the new GM responds to this question will likely determine how many changes, if any, are made this summer to the Magic's roster.

Who are some of the possible coaching candidates in Orlando and whom do you think is the favorite to get it?

A general manager will be appointed first so until that decision is made it will remain a bit blurred as to who the next coach will be.

If we base the possibilities off those the Bobcats have interviewed for their vacant head coaching spot, we can narrow down some of the main candidates.

You have the very experienced Jerry Sloan, who resigned as the coach of the Utah Jazz in early 2011 after 23 years and two NBA Finals appearances with the organization.

You have some of the up-and-coming assistants like Brian Shaw and Michael Malone, who each have developed very strong reputations from many throughout the league.

You have some current head coaches with ties to the Magic like Doc Rivers and Scott Skiles who both could potentially be in the running.

There are other qualified coaches such as Mike D’Antoni and Nate McMillan who both are presently out of work.

There is the report that Phil Jackson may be interested in a front office role with the Magic, which could directly lead to the hiring of a head coach of his choice.

I think the decision may depend heavily on whom the new GM thinks best fits with the roster. If Howard remains with the team and it’s very apparent Orlando is a championship contending team, then more coaching experience may be necessary. If the Magic, on the other hand, are in more of a rebuilding stage than perhaps a coach with great potential but little practice may be more suitable.


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