On a day where LeBron James overshadowed life itself – just ask Cleveland - there were two peripheral movements from top-notch power forwards that will shape the NBA on a similar level to LeBron’s decision next season. Of course, these moves were made once the big domino fell, but it doesn’t mean they are any less impactful.
Chris Bosh spurned Daryl Morey’s advances, agreeing to a max deal to return to the Miami Heat where he will function as alpha dog to Dwyane Wade’s eroding soul. In his wake, he left the Houston Rockets crippled, perhaps without the services of Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and Chandler Parsons because of Morey’s ambitions. I am all about The Process being as great as everyone says it is, but at a certain point when The Process doesn’t get you desired results, you end up with a healthy heaping of schadenfreude that’s comforting to teams not as smart.
Pau Gasol, meanwhile, had a choice between the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, the two best Western Conference teams, but chose to go East, complimenting Joakim Noah down low and playing facilitator to Derrick Rose’s aggressor.
Pau Gasol, Chicago working to complete an agreement, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 12, 2014
Chris Bosh’s decision perhaps rang the most curious. We were this close to a James Harden pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley and Chris Bosh spacing the floor, and Chandler Parsons cutting weakside to the basket. In a Western Conference bereft of teams unwilling to succeed, this core Houston five would stack up favorably to even the Spurs and Thunder of the world.
Pau Gasol’s decision made sense from a competitive standpoint, getting himself out of the Western Conference on a Chicago Bulls team littered with potential and cases of top talent. If–and that’s the largest “if” of the year–Derrick Rose stays healthy, the Bulls offense would look like the Showtime Lakers in comparison to last year’s edition. Even the criticized addition of Doug McDermott would ostensibly work out, given Noah and Gasol’s passing proficiency. Alas, when we salivate over passing, we turn to the pinnacle of ball-sharing. The Spurs with Gasol rotating alongside a big lineup of Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan would move even the most cold-blooded haters of “boring basketball” to the edge of their seat. As for the Thunder? Well, if Scott Brooks can someday figure out his best five, the inside-out combo with Serge Ibaka would separate themselves even further from the pack.
Put together, neither mean as much as LeBron James in the grand scheme of championships and the tectonic shift in talent movement. The Spurs and Thunder remain the best teams in the Western Conference unless James Harden decides to play defense or Dwight Howard feels like running pick-and-rolls. But there’s an aesthetic loss of pure entertainment that lives in the abstract.
We lost out on two theoretically fascinating Finals contending teams today – though the Thunder and Spurs are there already. LeBron James shifted the motives of entire franchise for the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, and this without mentioning the total rigidity of movement that forced teams like the Golden State Warriors, with a near $10 million trade exception, sniffing around a dead market. James is an entity and spectacle by himself, but the combined Decisions that Gasol and Bosh made last night were landscape-changing moves on a similarly spectacular scale.