LeBron James dominated (and continues to dominate) the headlines of the 2014 NBA Offseason just as he did four short years ago, but this time around his dominance is being perceived in a very different way. The one-hour televised special is a thing of the past; this year a letter announced where James would play along with Instagram posts asking and deciding what number The King should wear in his second stint with the Cavaliers.
James, along with the other big names who were free agents this offseason, made decisions on where to play in 2014-15 that would not be considered the norm in 2010. The “Big 3” craze started in the summer of 2010 when James decided to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach, and has tried to be duplicated on other teams ever since.
Wade, Bosh and Carmelo Anthony opted out of their contracts and became free agents in 2014, along with other notable players like Lance Stephenson, Dirk Nowitzki, Kyle Lowry, Chandler Parsons and Pau Gasol who also hit the free agent market. Where these key free agents decided to play (LeBron and Carmelo specifically) may very well have put the “Big 3” idea to rest at least for a little while.
People on various platforms said that LeBron (and I promise this will be quick, we have all heard enough about LeBron the past month) could or should have joined other big time players in Los Angeles (both Lakers and Clippers), Golden State, Houston, Chicago, New York and even back in Miami. Some of these destinations were long shots, but I am sure if LeBron said “I want to play on the (fill in the blank)” that that team would have done whatever was necessary to make room for the best player on the planet. Instead he chose to go back home to Cleveland, the place he left four short years ago because of the lack of talent on that roster.
Carmelo had similar options, some of which would have teamed him with LeBron forming the newest version of the “Big 2 or 3.” People discussed Melo joining the Lakers, Rockets, Bulls, Heat or returning to the Knicks. Melo decided to return to the Knicks and has recently said it was not about the money (I really hope Carmelo didn’t think anyone would actually believe that).
Whether these decisions can be considered doing it the old fashioned way, not joining with one or two other current free agents on the same team is a step away from the “Big 3” craze that was sweeping the league in 2010. Other free agents did not try to team up either, and some followed Carmelo’s lead and also resigned with their previous team. Lowry stayed in Toronto, Dirk resigned in Dallas and Wade and Bosh stayed together in Miami. Stephenson left what might have currently been a better team in Indiana for the Charlotte Hornets.
The two biggest names in free agency decided to join teams this offseason that do not currently have a “Big 3” in place, but that could all change as soon as next month (depending on where Kevin Love ends up) and may be revived in New York in the summer of 2015. For now the NBA is a better place because these decisions: a lot more teams have a real chance (especially in the Eastern Conference) of making a splash in the playoffs.