Although the ‘09 NBA free agent class isn’t as stacked as in years past — not to mention the League is being more thrifty than ever due to the slumping economy — teams still have holes they want to plug, and players have moves they want to make. Here, we break down all 30 NBA teams’ free agent strategy…
G – Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Daequan Cook, Chris Quinn, Yakhouba Diawara, Luther Head, Patrick Beverley
F – Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Jamario Moon, Dorell Wright, Robert Dozier
C – Jermaine O’Neal, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, Mark Blount
Moon (R), Anthony (R), Head, Magloire
Pat Riley and D-Wade are at an impasse. The short version: Riley doesn’t want to break the bank building a team around Wade if Wade is just gonna leave (probably for New York) next summer, but if Riley doesn’t get his superstar some help right away, it’s even more likely Wade will leave. Riley wants Wade to sign a contract extension before free agency comes up in 2010, but Wade wants to have a better team around him, and was recently critical of Miami’s offseason inactivity. While elite teams like the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and Cavs have all made significant moves to improve, Miami hasn’t done anything.
Going into the signing period, Miami had the NBA’s 10th-highest payroll at $69.6 million for ’09-10, including $15M for Wade and $22M for O’Neal. They’re already in the luxury tax, and as Riley recently told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, ”If you take a look at the list, I don’t think there’s anybody on that [free agent] list that’s a perfect fit for us — for what we have and what it’s going to cost. We have a mid-level [exception]. And anybody I want is going to want more.”
So far, the only standout name tied to Miami in free agent rumors has been Allen Iverson. But, like always, the question is whether The Answer would be willing to take a lesser role. Chalmers is the future at point guard for this team, and A.I. would really be most effective as a scorer off the bench similar to Manu Ginobili and Ben Gordon. If Iverson buys in, he’d get plenty of minutes and plenty of shots, and as a second-year pro, Chalmers couldn’t complain too much if Iverson replaced him in a crunch-time lineup of Iverson-Wade-Beasley-Haslem-O’Neal. And if Iverson’s not the guy, the Heat still need a better point guard behind Chalmers than Quinn.
Small forward has also been a weak spot, but Beasley is being groomed to take over the position. Miami also needs depth at center, where O’Neal can’t be relied on to show up for 82 games, Magloire and Anthony are free agents, and Blount stinks.
PG – Allen Iverson, Nate Robinson (R), Stephon Marbury, C.J. Watson (R), Ronnie Price, Bobby Jackson, Anthony Carter
C – Ryan Hollins (R), Channing Frye, Stromile Swift, Theo Ratliff, Melvin Ely, Johan Petro