Running off the pure optimism of Wednesday night's opening beat-down of the New York Knicks, I present to you the top five Miami Heat starting lineups for the 2010-2011 season.
As most fans know, the Heat will have perhaps the best cap space situation in the league next summer to lure free agents, thanks to Pat Riley's admirable discipline in not throwing a bad contract to some schlub this summer just to calm the moronic fan base. Some of that $20-22 million (about $12-14 million) has to be used to re-sign Dwyane Wade (if he'll agree to stay), but there will be a lot left over, enough to land at least one and probably more than one, premier player.
You just know Pat-- who loves the big free agent splash like no one else -- is licking his well-coiffed chops looking at the following list: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Paul Pierce, David Lee, Manu Ginobili, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal, Ray Allen, Tracy McGrady, Tyson Chandler, Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson, Ramon Sessions, Ray Felton, Nate Robinson, Travis Outlaw, John Salmons and Al Harrington. There's also a chance that some other guys (Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Andrea Bargnani, Ronnie Brewer, Tyrus Thomas) could spurn a chance to re-sign with their own teams and test the market. (Although there's zero chance of Brandon Roy leaving Portland's young core.)
So without further ado, here's are our wet dream starting lineups, always listed from center to point guard:
5. David Lee, Carlos Boozer, Michael Beasley, DWade, Chalmers - This lineup is small, but quick as hell. It could also include some kind of veteran presence on the bench like Manu Ginobli, Michael Redd, or Richard Jefferson. Not super exciting, but potentially effective.
4. Tyson Chandler, Carlos Boozer, Michael Beasley, DWade, Rajon Rondo - Chandler is paper-thin, but you could probably get O'Neal to stick around for the vet's minimum and play back-up. Boozer's also an injury headache, but you can sign him at a discount after his free agency wake-up call of this past summer. Plus he lives in Miami and never shuts up about coming here. Finally, if Rondo shuns the Celtics and doesn't get a deal done by tomorrow, you know he's scared of the Celtics age-issues and wants out.
3. Jermaine O'Neal/Tyson Chandler, Chris Bosh, Michael Beasley, DWade, Chalmers - LeBron goes to Knicks or Nets, but at least we get the best big man on the market in Chris Bosh. (In case you're wondering, I hate Amare Stoudemire. I hate his defense. And I even hate his girlfriend. I'm sure she's nice, but how can you date a guy who plays such terrible defense?) This team is a defensive nightmare for other teams and will dominate if Chalmers can knock down open shots.
2. Jermain O'Neal/Tyson Chandler, Michael Beasley, LeBron James, DWade, Raymond Felton - Felton's numbers are better than people give him credit for, and if he has any sense, he'll take whatever the Heat give him to play with the King & Dwyane.
1. David Lee, Michael Beasley, LeBron James, D.Wade, Chalmers - Getting Lee to sign for the mid-level exception would be tough...but a lot less tough if you tell him that his running mates are the best two players in the NBA. This team kicks Orlando's ass, punches the Lakers in the nuts, and then storms the White House and starts a dictatorship.
Am I total moron? Tell me in the comment section! Just be ready with your cap numbers and your arguments for why Allen Iverson doesn't suck.