Four years ago when the Miami Heat created the big three, they assembled three of the more dominant players in the NBA. However, in that time span, Miami has essentially become a shell of its former self with James leading the way as the other two are a question mark in terms of impact from game to game. Another one of those players is Chris Bosh who has officially opted out of his contract to become a free agent, following the footsteps of James and Dwayne Wade. The problem is that unlike in 2010, Bosh is a different player, and as such, it is doubtful that he has the same clout as he did four years ago.
When Bosh came to Miami in 2010 he was one of the best big man in the game. While he was on a Toronto Raptors team that failed to make the playoffs his final two years with the franchise, his numbers were nothing short of stellar as he averaged 24 ppg and 10.8 rpg while shooting 51 percent from the floor. He was a guaranteed double-double machine who just needed to be paired with help.
He got more than enough help when he aligned himself with James and Wade. However, instead of being a leader, he was a third option behind the other 2/3 of the big three. That said, he had a decent season where he averaged 18.7 ppg and 8.3 rpg, while still shooting almost 50 percent from the floor. It is that rebounding statistic though that has been a problem for him and the Miami Heat in general since his arrival. Part of why Miami chose him to help James and Wade is that he was one of the best rebounders in the league. While he was a prolific scorer, it was evident that he was not going to be setting the world on fire as a third option. It was expected that he would get a double-double every night though. Instead, during Bosh’s first year in Miami his rebounding totals dipped 2.5 per game. Certainly 8.3 rpg is nothing to be ashamed of, and maybe it was him merely trying to adjust with his new squad.
However, each of these four years his numbers have dropped and dropped, not just in ppg but particularly in the rebounding department. This past season he averaged 16.2 ppg and a mediocre 6.6 rpg. These kinds of rebounding numbers are completely unacceptable for a guy who is 6’11” tall. In turn, the Miami Heat were completely lost on the boards this season ranking in at 30th in the NBA in rebounds. Instead of being the dominant big man who crashed the glass in Toronto with the best of them, he has turned into a more of a European-style of player as he has become predominantly a jump shooter. It appears that Bosh has become softer on the inside because of this. A guy of his stature should be protecting the rim.
Bosh’s rebounding numbers dipping are not to be completely blamed on the big man. Erik Spoelstra has allowed him to stay more on the wing instead of being on the inside. The power forward has even gone on record stating that he has transitioned and that the reason for the transition was simply that due to his thin frame, he gave up a good 20 pounds or so to others in that position. This explanation is ridiculous. He is the same size as he was in Toronto when he was a rebounder, and he should still be that consistent board man.
It is primarily because of his dip in rebounding that Bosh is no longer viewed as the same marquee player. Sure, if he were to go to another franchise his numbers would most likely increase tenfold to upwards of 20 ppg or so. However, there are not many teams looking for a big man who plays like a small forward with no rebounding capabilities. Furthermore, teams do not want big men who forcibly change their game when the going gets tough. This is essentially what Bosh has done to his skill set. He used to be a force to be reckoned with inside and could help a team have a rebounding edge. Now with his change of play, he has eliminated part of his game.
Since his play has diminished, his value has dipped as well. Had Bosh opted into his contract, he would have made over $20 million this season and $22 million next season. As such, he will never be able to get that kind of contract again. Instead, he is looking at a maximum of $15 million most likely. It is a move that does not make sense in any form except for one. That one way of course is if the rumored three have agreed to take a smaller pay cut in order to expand their depth. This is quite possible; however, it is not guaranteed. More than likely James will be courted by other teams. He will interview with other teams in addition to Miami. If James has found a suitable replacement, Bosh has opted out for nothing.
Bosh at one point in time had a significant upside. He was a double-double machine who was looking to be one of the top players in the league. However, after a personal change in his playing style, Bosh has diminished his value, and if he does not find himself playing alongside James and/or Wade next season, his opting out will have significant financial and possible championship (or lack thereof) repercussions. He has taken a risk, and now on the eve before Bosh officially becomes a free agent, he may realize he has made a mistake, which could alter the rest of his playing career significantly.
Commentary by Simon Mounsey