LeBron James’ decision to return to Cleveland wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world. A lot of people were anticipating it. However, with James returning North, it left the Miami Heat in a bind. The Heat wasted almost no time in re-signing Chris Bosh to the max contract. With James no longer in the picture, it freed up millions in cap space and Bosh was the beneficiary. He and the Heat agreed to a five-year, $118 million contract that will pay him an average of $23.6 million annually.
That’s a lot of money for a guy who has been a shell of himself since he came to Miami in 2010. Bosh thinks of himself as a three-point shooter now, even though he has shot just 31.5 percent from behind-the-arc in 352 attempts, including 218 attempts last season since he arrived in Miami.
His Advanced Stats have been solid, but that’s because he has played with Dwyane Wade and James, two players who made more plays for Bosh than he had to make for himself when he was in Toronto.
But this contract makes no sense from a money or winning standpoint. While Bosh was able to lead Toronto to the playoffs twice, he never made it out of the first round. Bosh isn’t a playmaker and he can’t defend the rim, nor can he shoot.
Here is an interesting fact, though. While a lot of people believe that Bosh was a power forward for most of his career, he has played the center position 62 percent of the time he has been on the floor compared to 35 percent at power forward.
His rebounding numbers have decreased every year in Miami, starting at 8.3 in 2010 and dropping to 6.6 this past season. His scoring has also decreased. Now, at the age of 30, he will become the focal point of the Heat’s offense, like he was when he was in Toronto. One thing that is true: scorers never forget how to score.
But Bosh, and everyone who watches and follows the NBA knows that he wasn’t worth the max contract. There is no way he will live up to this contract. Few are able to.
Not only did the Heat splurge on Bosh, but they also went $20 million in on former Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers wingman Luol Deng. It has been reported that Deng was seeking roughly $12 million per season, but once James announced he was going back to Cleveland, Deng decided to take a “discount”.
The Heat and Deng agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract this past weekend, and he will immediately start in place of James. Of course, no player can replace James, but Deng will give the Heat some versatility at the small forward spot. He can defend other two-guards and small forwards, but his offensive numbers worry me. This past season, Deng shot his worst percentage from behind-the-arc (30.2 percent) since 2006-2007 when he shot 14.3 percent, but he only took seven attempts that season.
Also, two out of the last three seasons, Deng has led the league in minutes per game (39.4 in 2011-2012 and 38.7 in 2012-2013). In 10 NBA seasons, Deng has played over 24,000 minutes (24,235 to be exact). To put that into perspective, James has played 165 more games than Deng, but has been in the league one year longer than Deng. If Deng was to have played the same amount of games as James, Deng would only be about 3,000 minutes played behind James over the course of his career. James is a “freak” and his body has yet to show any signs of breaking down.
Which brings me back to the contract and why it doesn’t make sense. At 29-years-old, Deng has only played 82 games in a season twice in his career. He has never had a Player Efficiency Rating higher than 18.7 (15.0 is the league average). He has had one season in which he shot over 50 percent from the field (51.7 in 2006-2007). I don’t think this was a smart move for the Heat.
However, the contract is just two seasons, and in two seasons Kevin Durant will be a free agent. I have a feeling the Heat will have their eyes on Durant in 2015-2016.