Wednesday, June 4, 2014
The 2014 NBA Playoffs has all the makings of another classic like last year, when the Miami Heat beat the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. One big difference is that the Spurs have the home-court advantage this year.
The most interesting part of this series, however, might be what happens after it's over.
No two teams could look completely different next season than the two playing for the title. Win or defeat, the San Antonio Spurs could lose Tim Duncan in the offseason to retirement. Duncan is 38 years old and has to be feeling the wear and tear of years in the league since being the first pick in 1997.
The Spurs' other stars, Tony Parker, 32, and Manu Ginobili, 36, have sustained many injuries over the last few seasons. Ginobili could retire or, if the Spurs had to, they could trade him and Parker for younger talent.
It seems a good bet that one of the Spurs' big three won't be back for the 2014-2015 season. Father Time is the only undefeated entity in sports, and he has been catching up with Duncan, Ginobili and Parker for some time now.
Winning the finals could be the perfect exit for Duncan. On the plus side for Spurs fans, they are a deep team, and all three could be back for one last run if management feels they could pull it off.
The danger for the Spurs is hanging on to core pieces too long and facing major rebuilding efforts down the road.
Miami's big three—LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade—could bring major change to the Heat in a different way. All three have the ability to opt out of their contracts after this season.
LeBron could win a third straight title and then decide to bring it back to his adoptive hometown of Cleveland. The title-starved city would welcome its prodigal son with open arms if he returned.
Winning a title for Cleveland would also lend a special point to LeBron's legacy and wipe away the hurt left by his "decision" when he left the city.
Wade, like Parker, is only 32 years old and has had injury problems. He could follow LeBron and become a strong force off the bench for another team. That would cut his minutes and make his impact on the court much bigger.
Bosh could stay in Miami or make his own path; it seems likely that he will make his decision after LeBron and Wade make theirs.
Again, it wouldn't be a surprise if all three stayed in Miami next season, either. Winning a title could make the decision for both teams as they bring back their stars to defend the title.
As the series reaches it dramatic conclusion, more speculation will arise on where both team's big three will be around next season. It will be almost as interesting as the finals to watch this offseason unfold and see six great players make decisions that shape the future of the NBA for the next few years.