There’s not much to the Miami Heat roster. While they have a lot of movement going on, Pat Riley and company don’t have the flexibility to be too picky in the free agent market. With three sure-fire pieces on the roster in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, add in some nice role players like Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony, and you’ve got some continuity going into next season. After that, however, things are pretty open.
The obvious needs for the Heat are at the point guard and center positions. Mike Bibby didn’t help Miami much; blah blah blah, he got them into their offense but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a liability there or everywhere else. Mario Chalmers showed he can play at this level and as a restricted free agent would be worth a re-sign if he can learn to limit his turnovers by not forcing the issue.
Remember when every team in the Western Conference went out and got a lumbering center (see Suns, Shaquille O’Neal) after the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol? This is kind of like that. Joel Anthony is a nice backup center for around 15 minutes per night, but finding a starter to protect the paint and grab boards could be huge for a Heat team that lost out on a lot of offensive boards to the Mavericks and Tyson Chandler in the NBA Finals.
Free agents they could sign:
First, let’s look at the guys who played with Miami this year. As mentioned above, Chalmers, the only restricted free agent, would be a nice component to bring back. He knows the system, knows the expectations and can use the 2011 playoff run as experience for next year. T.J. Ford is unrestricted and could definitely take the pressure off James with his playmaking ability. Outside of Chalmers, I’d only look into re-signing Eddie House (an inexpensive glue guy who is a great locker room presence) and James Jones (a shooter and solid defender).
A domino effect of Chandler manhandling the Heat frontcourt, Miami is looking to get some younger legs at center. They could take a hard look at guys like Samuel Dalembert, Melvin Ely or Chris Wilcox. Other nice fits that would cost more than pennies are rebounding monsters in Toronto’s Reggie Evans or Indiana’s Jeff Foster.
People they should let walk:
Everyone who should be in an old persons’ home. Bibby, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and Erick Dampier are a little over the hill for my taste. They fit into the equation during the season, but ultimately weren’t helpful enough to warrant playing time as the playoff season wore on – hence the whole “sign inexpensive, younger guys who never panned out but might break out playing alongside the Big Three” approach.
Potential trade acquisitions:
No, I don’t think the Heat should blow up this Big Three experiment and trade LeBron James for Dwight Howard. I’m looking at you, Jason Whitlock. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to not panic and stick with your guns. Cohesiveness will eventually win out.
Though they have very few pieces outside of James, Wade and Bosh, a sign-and-trade could be possible with a guy like Chalmers. Who’s the most intriguing player on the market? Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jonny Flynn is on the block with Ricky Rubio being shipped in from Spain. He could be a nice acquisition to place next to Wade and LeBron if Riley doesn’t want to go the Chalmers route.
Who should they look to pick up this summer?
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