This year's free agency feels like a summer blockbuster to me. But not a good, creative movie that might put a new twist on an old theme. Instead, it's a tired premise that seems predictable and boring.
Perhaps you don't see it that way, do you? Maybe you couldn't tell that the idea of five college students (including the dumpy-looking one) going to far-off destinations with only a sleazy travel guide to help them was a bad idea. It could work out, right?
Instead, you've seen the past two days (just two!) of free agency and are already in full sky-is-falling mode. Marcin Gortat just got $60 million! Kyrie Irving got a max deal! Avery Bradley will be making $8 million a year! And, worst of all, Kyle Lowry just signed a four-year deal to stay in Toronto!
These are all disturbing signs, alright, but not in the way you might think. This is the summer of overpaying players and, meanwhile, Miami is cash-strapped despite having just one player (Norris Cole) on their roster. What is Pat Riley doing, you might ask.
Well, the answer is simply that he's doing everything he can at this point. Riley, to use a baseball analogy, is always swinging for the fences, sometimes ignoring the fact that a bunt single can lead to a run. Some of those moves have worked, the veritable home run, like trading for Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal and, of course, signing the "Big 3." Others, like acquiring Eddie Jones and Brian Grant, have been a pop fly with two outs in the ninth. No one knows what he's working on and not knowing can be maddening.
But the truth might be that there is only so much even a mastermind like Riley can achieve in this weird offseason where Ben Gordon - who only played 19 games and shot 34% last season - can get a two-year deal for $9 million. Speculation is that teams are giving out obscene amounts of cash knowing that the salary cap will continue to increase, at least until 2017. At that point, the current collective bargaining agreement will expire and another lockout (like the one that impacted the 2011-12 season) is likely.
That's too far in the future for you though, isn't it? You want to know what's happening now. It's part of the wonderful chaos of free agency that there are tons of rumors and rampant guesses being floated around as fact, where reputable reporters have to retract tweets and reports from untrustworthy sources. Less than a week ago, Chris Bosh was rumored to be on his way back to Toronto, in exchange for the player (Lowry) that just agreed to stay there for four years. Bosh's expected salary has been reported to be in the range from $10 million to twice that because everyone, from agents to reporters to front office types to casual fans, has an opinion. So if instant updates are what you seek, the sad reality is that you can find plenty of them and not a single one can be true.
It was just four short years ago when Dwyane Wade, the face of the Heat franchise, was taking a second meeting with Chicago Bulls officials. It was a deal that made sense, Wade returning home to take up the mantle left behind by Michael Jordan, and there was a good chance that his friend LeBron James might join him. Of course, that's not quite how it all worked out.
So be patient, Heat fans. Riley may be lucky - again - and hit that home run. Or he might just get a triple, grabbing a wing player like Trevor Ariza or a skilled big man in Pau Gasol, although they're likely out of Miami's price range as well. He could simply get a base hit by signing a player like Jameer Nelson or Carlos Boozer (who is expected to be waived by the Bulls) on the cheap. Those would be great, low-cost moves that would bolster the Heat roster without breaking the bank or tying up money in long contracts. They might not be sexy moves, but grabbing experienced veterans like Caron Butler and Vince Carter would be wonderful additions to the team.
What if this roster just makes minor moves and somehow still re-signs the likes of James, Wade and Bosh? Well, keep in mind that the Heat has gone to the NBA Finals for four straight years and is expected to do so again, even without major additions to the team. It might sound like homer-ish, revisionist history but Miami did destroy Eastern Conference opponents by going 12-3 on their way to meeting a Spurs team that was hungry for revenge. And, still, if James' now-famous cramps had never happened and Miami had won Game 1 and then found a way to win Game 2 and then...
But it didn't and the Heat were beaten badly and the summer was supposed to be an opportunity to build another powerhouse (bring Carmelo!) in Miami. Maybe James moves on to Houston or Los Angeles or Cleveland and takes all those hopes of additional championships with him. No one knows. But sources tell me that there will still be a team there next season in the AmericanAirlines Arena, one that will need your support regardless of the roster.
So don't panic, Heat fans, you've been lucky over the past four years. The crazy train of free agency will keep making regular stops at Rumorville, regardless of your reaction. You might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.