As a Western Conference contender disassembled out of frugality and panic on Wednesday, Miami Heat star LeBron James should've been recalibrating the realities of the free-agent frenzy awaiting him in 2014. For him, the economics of the sport keep reaffirming that three's a crowd now, that James will have to choose a partnership with one superstar teammate.
The Super Friends scenarios are gone, replaced with the NBA's vision of talent spreading out to the have-nots. James Harden leaves Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for Houston. And months before it was necessary to do so, before the Memphis Grizzlies could make a run in the Western Conference playoffs, they moved Rudy Gay to Toronto and out of Zach Randolph's and Marc Gasol's lives.
James has helped to make it so profitable to be an NBA owner that Robert Pera bought the Grizzlies, hired a front office of novices, ran out a successful scouting staff and began to unload genuine assets for pennies on the dollar. Just recently, James tweeted, "What the hell we have lockout for?" upon learning of the $525 million selling price of the Sacramento Kings.
Why? Simple: The NBA's owners wanted to break up the super teams and create a system that'll assure Pera can mismanage the Grizzlies into oblivion and still make money on the enterprise. The max contract system makes James the most underpaid athlete on the planet, and soon it will do something else, too: It makes most precarious his future with the Miami Heat.