Eight hours from now, the NBA world is going to bust at the seams.
Even though the majority of us are still recovering from the Miami Heat’s glorious championship run or from the NBA draft that took place this Thursday, front office organizations have been long at work attempting to determine where and how they will spend their money this offseason.
That’s including the Miami Heat. Team President Pat Riley made some recent comments on the impending free agency and dropped a few hints as to who the Heat will be looking towards picking up:
“If we could add a shooter that would help us, because we are that kind of a team. If we could get a real big that had to be guarded and had some versatility, then we might try to go in that direction. If there’s a 3-point shooter that’s long and can defend, then we might go in that direction. So there is a lot of areas you can go. There isn’t one specific thing. I just know that we want to find as much space as we can on the floor for Dwyane and for LeBron and for Chris to be able to operate.”
Riley also spoke of the Heat looking towards adding a veteran:
“There’s a lot of room out there this year,” Riley said. “But there aren’t many teams that have a chance, really, to win a title. And I think a lot of veteran players might be interested in something like that.”
So Riley is looking for a veteran three-point shooter? I have one name in mind, although he doesn’t fit the description as one who is long and can defend well. Although the Heat are always on the lookout for a player who can do far more than just score or shoot well, the fact that his defense isn’t what it used to be shouldn’t create too much of an impact.
Miami’s salary cap situation is essentially the same as last year. They have a $3 million mini mid-level exception or a veteran’s minimum deal worth $1 million. What that means is they don’t have a lot of money to spend. In terms of signings, you’ll see the equivalent of last year’s offseason when the Heat signed one player who decided to take a paycut.
Last year it was Shane Battier. This year? It could be a few lucky participants. The Heat reportedly have “five or six” players in mind.
However, the only way any of those players sign with the Heat is if they take a significant paycut. Thus the reason why you see the team going after a veteran; because it’s going to be too expensive to sign a young player who will easily command more.
First off, let’s get some things out of the way:
- Steve Nash
Sorry, but it’s just not going to happen.
As ideal as it would be to have Nash running an offense with three players capable of scoring 30 points any given night, there are too many other teams that will be taking just as strong as look and willing to offer him far much more than the $3 million per year the Heat can offer.
The Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns are all looking to sign Nash this summer. The Heat won’t be able to compete with the contracts the Raptors, Mavericks, Nets and Suns could offer to Nash. Plus, Nash’s ties to Toronto and Phoenix, as well as his strong friendship with Dirk Nowitzki will ultimately play factors in his decision.
Anyway, don’t you want to see Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole continue to develop? Another point guard on the team and those two lose minutes in development.
- Chris Kaman
For some reason, Chris Kaman has been a name who has popped on the Miami Heat’s radar.
Adding Kaman would give the Heat the pure center they’ve been looking for. He’s listed at 7′, 268-pounds and is arguably one of the most gifted offensive big men in the game. Kaman has averaged as much as 18.5 points per game and has averaged 11.9 over a nine-year career.
If Kaman does join the Heat, he would be the fourth player drafted within the first six picks from the 2003 NBA Draft that is now on the team. We all should know who the three others are.
However, Kaman isn’t signing for $3 million per season. He’s a 7′ center; that essentially guarantees a team ready to offer him at least $8 million per year. Even with injuries ravaging three of the past five years of his career, Kaman will still be coveted by many teams that will offer him far more.
- O.J. Mayo
The Memphis Grizzlies have been looking to move O.J. Mayo for the past two years with no luck.
They’ve come close to trading away their sixth man, but have never been able to finalize a deal. The Grizzlies have not been too pleased with the production from the former third overall pick. After starting at the two for the first two years of his career, Mayo was sent to the bench in favor of defensive specialist Tony Allen.
Mayo averaged 12.6 points and shot 36 percent from beyond the arc last season.
Mayo would be a huge answer to the Heat’s lack of volume scorers off the bench, but he, too, will come at too large a cost. At only 24-years-old, Mayo’s youthful energy and athleticism will allow him to garner far more than a mini mid-level exception.
- Jason Terry
Once seen as the sworn enemy of the Miami Heat and their fanbase, we may now find the American Airlines Arena suddenly swooning over one of the league’s deadliest perimeter threats in Jason Terry.
It’s surprisingly a realistic option for the Heat to sign Terry, who will also be looked at by the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks.
Terry will be 35-years-old by the start of next season. He’s a career 38 percent shooter from beyond the arc and recently converted 2.2 three-pointers per game at a 38 percent clip this past season off his usual spot as the team’s sixth man.
- Grant Hill
This may be Grant Hill’s last chance to secure an NBA title. You would think after 17 years and only seven years worth of playoff experience to show for it, Hill may want to sign on to a team that could help lead him to winning a title.
The Miami Heat could be the coattail’s that Hill could ride on for a title. However, unlike Juwan Howard, Grant Hill will be asked to produce on the basketball court as well as off. Even at the age of 39 last year, Hill still managed to average 10.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per.
Hill played in 49 games last year, averaging 28 minutes per contest.
The Heat have expressed interest in going after Hill and would love to add him on as another swingman who can come off the bench in relief for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
- Ray Allen
Finally, we arrive at the destination we have been awaiting.
It’s no secret by this point–the Miami Heat’s main target this offseason will be Boston Celtics’ shooting guard Ray Allen.
Yes, the same Ray Allen who is the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers made. The same Ray Allen who is constantly found devastating teams with his timely, seemingly impossible three-pointers. Even at the age of 37, Allen still has plenty of game left in him.
Last year, at the age of 36, Allen shot a career-high 45 percent from beyond the arc on 5.1 three-point attempts per game. Holy balls! It’s no fluke, either, as Allen shot 44 percent on 4.7 three-point attempts the year before.
Allen looked horrid throughout Boston’s postseason run due to an injury that was causing the lift on his shots to not be as elevated. As a result, Allen only shot 40 percent from the field, 30 percent from deep, and 71 percent from the foul line.
However, with the Heat, Allen wouldn’t have to work has hard for points as he would in Boston. The Heat’s offense isn’t complex, but a simple LeBron drive and kick-out to an open Ray Allen along the perimeter is impossible to defend.
If the Heat sign Allen, I will not hesitate to say that they will be the defending back-to-back champions.
Depressingly Realistic Options
- Jermaine O’Neal
No joke, Jermaine O’Neal’s name is being brought up by several analyst’s that work with the Miami Heat.
Although the Heat seem to covet a shooter over a big man after witnessing how well “small ball” worked this postseason, as well as Riley announcing another year for Dexter Pittman, Miami may still want a banger down low and O’Neal could answer the call.
Don’t forget; the Heat also have that veteran’s minimum deal. O’Neal has ties with the team after playing with the team from 2008 to 2010 and might as well go ring-chasing at this point of his career.
O’Neal will turn 34-years-old by the start of the season. He averaged five points and five boards in 25 games last season with the Boston Celtics.
- Derrick Brown
He’ll only be 25-years-old by the time the season starts, but youth shouldn’t play too large a factor when teams go out and look to sign a player like Derrick Brown.
Brown has been playing professionally for the past three years and finally had a breakout season last year. In 65 games with the Bobcats, 17 of which he started, Brown averaged 8.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per.
With 22 minutes per game, Brown showed off some solid defensive skills and a great deal of athleticism. His shot is sub-par, which should hurt his chances, but him being a cheap defensive option, as well as the team needing some depth, could entice the Heat into signing him if all other options are off the table.
You actually know who Derrick Brown is, too. He’s the guy that got his dunk stuffed by LeBron last season:
- Willie Green
The Miami Heat could fully take advantage of the situation Willie Green is in if all of their other options are off the table.
The ‘Depressingly Realistic Options’ are players that the Heat will end up looking at with either the veteran’s minimum or if they’re looking to make a signing after failing on their primary options.
Green isn’t actually that depressing of a realistic option. He has strange shot-selection at times, but he’s an otherwise solid shooter. In the Heat’s offense, he’ll need to learn to defer to the primary scorers on the floor and remember that he’s relegated to a role where he’s the spot-up shooter who needs to be ready.
Green played with the Atlanta Hawks last season and averaged only 17 minutes per worth of playing time off the bench. However, he did shoot a career-high 42 percent from beyond the arc of 2.1 attempts per game.
Before we embark on this free agency period, allow me to give you a set of rules to not die out of pure ecstasy:
- Everything you hear from now until July 10th is a rumor. Even if guarantees are made between players and organizations, they still have to wait until the 10th to actually sign.
- The Miami Heat will get two players at most. They’ll have to wine-and-dine guys like Ray Allen or Jason Terry into taking that mini mid-level exception.
- If Mike Miller does retire, the Heat will not be able to write his salary off the books until next year.
- Every free agent will express interest in the Miami Heat. They’re the NBA champions and provide an easy ride for anyone who wants to sign, so it should be expected for a free agent to say that he has interest in joining Miami. However, most of the time, the signing never occurs.
- Miami will not get their starting center over the next two weeks. Chris Bosh is expected to fill in that role.
- There is no need for a point guard, unless Steve Nash is truly willing to work for only $3 million per year.
It’s going to be a busy offseason, so don’t get excited over every rumor that you hear because there will be plenty just like them.
My prediction to who the Heat get? Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal. I truly believe that Allen is willing to take a paycut in order to join the Heat in a shooter’s role off the bench and that O’Neal will work for basically nothing by this point in order to get a ring.