Miami Heat already made their big moves during the offseason and while they were indeed poking around for anyone useful in the clearance section, rival teams in the Eastern Conference such as the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics exchanged major players integral to their system deep into the regular season.
The Heat can attest to the difficulties of trying to mesh players in a short amount of time under the spotlight. Before facing the new-look New York Knicks on Sunday, the team encountered a Washington Wizards team that has been in constant change each time they've played against them with Gilbert Arenas, Rashard Lewis, Mike Bibby, Kirk Hinrich and others shuffled in and out of the roster.
"These are the challenges in this league," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who's had to face plenty of criticism this season while trying to manage a new team with big personalities as one of the youngest coaches in the NBA. "We have ultimate respect for every opponent. Even the Wizards coming in here, they've been through a lot of injuries and a lot of change but now you can see what they're building around. They have a lot of interesting young talent."
For the Knicks, the goal of adding superstar talent after disciplining themselves to refrain from wildly spending has paid off in surprisingly quick fashion after losing out to LeBron James, their No. 1 target last summer, to the Heat. Nevertheless, the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony came at a huge cost and the glacial pace in which trade talks progressed so late into the season has robbed the team of precious time to jell together. With two All-Stars who must now learn to share the spotlight in New York, Dwyane Wade had the benefit of already having gone through the experience after Shaquille O'Neal was brought in early into his career. Even still, growing pains are still evident as he continues to get accustomed to playing with LeBron James and Chris Bosh.