Monday, June 15, 2009

Kobe Wins One Without Shaq

In a convincing Game 5 performance, the Los Angeles Lakers fought their way to a 15th NBA title. History was made as Kobe Bryant locked in his 4th championship ring and Phil Jackson surpassed Red Auerbach in all-time title wins at 10.

Kobe got the media-hyped monkey off his back as he won his first title without the Big Aristotle, Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq himself insisted that he wanted Kobe to win his 4th title via Twitter, but the media kept supressing his statements and pushing the "Kobe can't win without Shaq" agenda. After Sunday night, all the hype was silenced.

As for the Orlando Magic, it was a disappointing end to a series that had the potential of six or seven games. It was uncharacteristic of the Magic to finish a series in such a short time span as they had battled in two long playoff series against the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now how does this all relate to the Miami Heat? Well, for one thing it could have free agency implications.

Knowing that the Magic have Hedo Turkoglu and Marcin Gortat and the Lakers have Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza all becoming free agents, there could be one of two scenarios for each team. We'll just call it Option A and Option B.

Option A
The free agents decide to go back to their respective teams, which would solidify each team's roster for next season. In the case of the Magic, Turkoglu and Gortat could re-sign with even more hunger and drive to win a title in thse blue jerseys. In the Lakers case, Odom and Ariza could decide to come back in order to defend the championship and make a run at a second straight. Both scenarios rely on a trust factor where the players believe that their team has another shot to win and their resigning helps that cause.

Option B
The free agents decide to part ways and seek a new contract with a new team, which could benefit a team like the Miami Heat. If Turkoglu and Gortat don't see the Magic making another run, they could very well pack their bags and run. Miami could benefit from any of those two players on their roster. On the same token, Odom and Ariza could be satisfied with their new shiny rings and look for a fresh start somewhere else. Having Odom and/or Ariza in a Miami uniform would also be a plus for the Heat. The issue would obviously be in salary cap space and contract length as Miami would need to dump off some existing contracts and make a deal that extends beyond 2010.

Obviously some players could stay, while others could go, but the results do affect next year's chances for the Miami Heat, particularly in the case of the Southeast Division Champion Orlando Magic.

Orlando's Turkoglu and Gortat add much-needed height to the Heat lineup and Hedo brings a dynamic offensive option to Miami's system. What a great help either player would be to Dwyane Wade.

L.A.'s Odom and Ariza are more versatile options and would bring energy and length to an already athletic Miami team. Ariza would load up the SF position, but Odom would be a great PF option for Miami.

In total, we must wait until after the confetti and parade boats are swept off the Los Angeles streets and the bitter sweet feelings in the Orlando air dissipate before we can even contemplate any of these moves.

Some teams have already made offseason moves, such as the Toronto Raptors' trade with the Philadelphia Sixers that sent Jason Kapono to Philly for Reggie Evans. I doubt these decisions will be made anytime soon, but with much time and thought they will be made.

So, will Pat Riley make way for an Odom return? Will he take a chance on a costly, yet productive Hedo Turkoglu? How 'bout Gortat as a cheap back-up center? Or Ariza as an energy guy in an open court offense under Spoelstra's regime?

Those are questions that will be answered after this group of alluring free agents put ink on re-signing contracts or decide to leave the pen on the table.

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