Bosh's injury puts more on LeBron's plate - NBC Sports

Bosh's injury puts more on LeBron's plate
James now must be team's best power forward as well as best point guard;if Heat don't win this season, super trio might just have 3 more years together
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With Chris Bosh out, LeBron James now has to be the Heat's best power forward as well as top point guard, NBCSports.com contributor Ira Winderman writes.
May 14, 2012, 4:05 pm

Q: With Chris Bosh out, doesn't that take all the pressure off LeBron James?
-- Stuart, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A: To "have" to win a championship? Sure. But simply by playing alongside Dwyane Wade, it still means LeBron has a better supporting cast than any of the times he was supposed to win with the Cavaliers.

What Bosh's lower-abdominal strain does is force LeBron to become even more versatile, going from the Heat's best point guard in the series against the Knicks (while also defending Knicks center Tyson Chandler at times), to now being the Heat's best power forward.

Remember, LeBron, like Bosh and Wade, has an opt-out clause for the 2014 offseason. So if the Heat fail to win a title this season, it would leave him only two more opportunities for a ring before he has to consider his escape clause.

And that essentially has Pat Riley and Micky Arison in a much tougher spot than LeBron at the moment. If James doesn't secure a title by 2014, it would be surprising if he doesn't move on. It essentially is the unwritten portion of James' contract, that a championship extinguishes his opt out.

Who knows, perhaps the Curse of Dan Gilbert is real?

Q: I see Steve Nash will be a free agent and was wondering whether he might be an answer for the Knicks if they lose Jeremy Lin. Wouldn't he be a better choice for a team that has to win its first playoff series since 2000?
-- Steve, Westbury, N.Y.

A: First of all, the Knicks can't "lose" Lin unless they choose to. He will be a restricted free agent, with the Knicks allowed to use the "Gilbert Arenas Rule" to match any outside offer by forfeiting their right to instead use their mid-level exception.

(The Arenas rule was adopted so that teams that unearth second-round picks or other free agents on one-year deals, players who therefore lack "Bird Rights," can retain those players.)

Of course, if a team were to significantly backload such a Lin offer, as the Raptors are reportedly considering, the Knicks might have to think twice, considering their standing against the salary cap (chalk that up to the curse of Amare Stoudemire).

As it is, even if Lin were to depart, the most the Knicks would be able to offer Nash would be the mid-level of about $6 million, which would be a considerable pay cut. Beyond that, the initial allure of New York for Nash was the opportunity to play in a Mike D'Antoni system under D'Antoni.

The Mike Woodson system does not favor a ball-moving point guard with an extended dribble (which is not good news for Lin, either), but rather isolation offense for featured scorers such as Carmelo Anthony.

Ultimately, it is difficult to envision James Dolan forgoing the marketing opportunities with Lin, with at least one more bid to reestablish Lin-sanity.

As for Nash, here's a thought that seemingly has not been floated:

What about the Lakers? Nash certainly is an upgrade on Steve Blake and Ramon Sessions. And beyond that, the Lakers could work it where Nash is on the court in a more equal-opportunity offense when Kobe Bryant is off the floor. Such a pairing would give the Lakers an off-the-dribble option on the court at all times.

Although the Lakers would be limited to the tax-payer mid-level exception, which is about half of what the Knicks could offer with their full mid-level, one would have to believe that such a move to the Lakers would at least intrigue Nash.

Nash. Kobe. Pau Gasol. Andrew Bynum. It is a dynamic for the ages and aged that could change the dynamic in the West going forward.

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Q: David Stern said he was going to stop flopping on his interview on ABC during the Heat-Pacers game. How about a rule that a defender has to be in place for at least two seconds before he can draw a charge?
-- Martin, Boca Raton, Fla.

A: The officials have enough on their plate, let alone maintaining a standing count for defenders in the lane. Plus, two seconds is an awfully long time to position in advance.

In fact, it is probably impossible to invoke such penalties in real time, as the NHL does with its anti-diving sanctions.

Instead, it would have to be something dealt with through follow-up video study, but with sanctions so severe that players would think twice.

If players knew they could be suspended for a game and lose a game check, they no doubt would back off, or at least wait for contact before falling.

But even that type of penalty might be too extreme.

Instead, the league should handle it like technical fouls, where a certain number of "flops" equal a suspension.

But here's the rub: Stern relishes that his league is a global league, that it has added so many overseas talents. Yet flopping is part of the culture in European leagues. So how do you recruit players, then tell them they can't play the styles that made them so effective in the first place?

Think about it, if a flopping ban already was in place, we might never have gotten to know the true Manu Ginobili.

Q: Can you believe Carlos Boozer thinks he had a good season? What were we thinking with that guy? -- Jesse, Waukegan, Wis.

A: With Carlos, it long has been about the stats, particularly on the offensive end. The fact that Boozer sat at the end of playoff games even with Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose sidelined hardly was a revelation, considering he routinely was bench in favor of Taj Gibson during last season's playoffs.

Although the Bulls can't come out and say it, you can be assured they know Boozer's salary would be better spent elsewhere.

It would be difficult to envision a contender making a move for Boozer and his salary. At best, the Bulls might be able to pawn him off on a small-market lottery team that knows it otherwise would be unable to sign such a player as a free agent.

Q: Did Lionel Hollins get enough out of the Grizzlies? Shouldn't they have beaten the Clippers with Game 7 at home?
-- Clark, West Memphis, Ark.

A: In the end, with the Nuggets and Grizzlies falling during the same weekend, it took a bit of steam out of the argument that ensemble teams could thrive.

Ultimately, neither the Nuggets nor the Grizzlies (with apologies to Ty Lawson and Rudy Gay, who certainly are nice players) had the type of go-to player who could match the big-moment scoring that Kobe Bryant could provide the Lakers and Chris Paul could provide the Clippers.

In the end, George Karl and Hollins probably got out as much out of their superstar-less teams as could have been expected. Both probably maximized their team's possibilities.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http.//twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

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