How Should the Miami Heat Go About Filling out their 15-Man Roster?

In South Florida, it’s come to the point where the Miami Heat filling out their roster has become more of a popular subject than the Miami Dolphins, who are recently coming off a 20-point loss in week 1.

Expectations are low for the Dolphins. It’s the exact opposite for a Heat team that will be looking to defend its championship for the first time since 2007. However, unlike 2007 where the organization didn’t move forward and make any impact signings, the franchise in 2012 immediately went out and created vast improvements towards consistency from the perimeter.

Although these final two players will probably end up receiving little playing time and will be subjected to watching the majority of Heat games in a suit, it’s still worth wondering who is going to accompany the team on another championship run.

At the moment there are 13 players under guaranteed contracts with the Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Mike Miller, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem, Dexter Pittman, James Jones, Shane Battier and Joel Anthony.

There are also four players under non-guaranteed contracts: Terrel Harris, Robert Dozier, Mickell Gladness and Jarvis Varnado. Those non-guaranteed players represent the final two on the 2012-’13 Miami Heat team. Miami is allowed to offer one more non-guaranteed signing to reach the maximum of 20 players on their roster in training camp.

Josh Harrellson, Jerome Dyson and Hassan Whiteside may also be camp possibilities.

The Heat are allowed 15 players come opening day on October 30th, meaning only two of the five players who are invited will be able to make it to the team.

Miami has been holding numerous workouts over the past few weeks and it appears that they are in a search for a big man. The team is content with having Chris Bosh play at the five following last year’s late-season success, but they also don’t want to create too much wear and tear on him throughout an 82-game regular season. The Heat would like to have someone possibly fill the role throughout the regular season, before relinquishing the reins to Bosh.

The team only has two centers on their roster outside of Bosh: Dexter Pittman and Joel Anthony. No joke, that’s it. With the non-guaranteed contracts they’re issuing to numerous centers, the Heat appear ready to move on from these two, especially Pittman who disappointed in the summer league. Despite Pat Riley essentially guaranteeing his contract earlier in the offseason, the team still has the right to drop him.

And it wouldn’t be that far-fetched of an idea, either. Pittman was disappointingly average in the summer league and still got into constant foul trouble, averaging 5.3 per game. Considering this was against D-League talent and players that were just hoping to make a roster, Pittman’s performance may have left the Heat front office second guessing their initial decision on him.

Then again, the field is limited, and Pittman is a project who will just be entering his third season this year.

Camp competition includes second-year center Mickell Gladness and former Heat second-round pick Jarvis Varnado thus far, with Hassan Whiteside or Josh Harrellson possibly joining on later. Although they may not take Pittman’s spot, it’s still more than likely the Heat end up signing a big man who can be inserted for spot minutes, in order to get Bosh some time at the four.

None of the players the Heat are working out will end up becoming game-changers. They are in this position for a reason. Mickell Gladness couldn’t get picked up by Golden State or any other team, Jarvis Varnado and Robert Dozier have been overseas, Whiteside couldn’t re-sign with Sacramento and Harrellson was cut by Houston after being traded by New York.

Before we evaluate and see which of these players is the most likely candidate to take the job, let’s start off by saying that Terrel Harris is nearly guaranteed a contract.

Although the organization didn’t make too much of an initiative to sign Harris, it comes as a result of their being no demand on Harris’ services, as well as the team wanting to see what he’s made of. They want him to be hungry for a roster spot and they want to see him work for it, because he in a position where he should be working as hard as any other player who wants to join the team.

In 22 games last season, Harris averaged 3.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per. He shot 35 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc. He started one game, scored a career-high 10 points in a loss against Memphis and had 14 rebounds in a triple-overtime win against Atlanta.

There’s potential, especially on the defensive end, and the Heat want to see what they could get out of Harris.

Now comes the tricky part. The Heat need to have a center to round out this roster. The team essentially wasted a spot last year on Eddy Curry and it may be wise to have a player who can actually get on the court and not lumber around as if they’ve been out of the game for two years.

No, the Heat need to use the spot on someone worth obtaining; preferably someone that’s young and has the potential to live up to something. Miami won’t be using the player they sign as a starter, but they would like someone who can hold their own under the rim, grab some boards and catch-and-finish.

The possibilities are thin, but it seems that former Heat player Mickell Gladness may be the wisest choice at this point. He played 8 games with the Heat last year and only converted one field-goal in extremely limited play, failing to play in more than nine minutes in any of the games.

However, it was his stint with the Warriors that may have just convinced the Heat to bring him around for summer league action. Gladness received far more playing time, even obtaining nearly 39 minutes in the final game of the season where he would record 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 9 rebounds.

Gladness also had a 4-block game against New Orleans in 30 minutes worth of action.

Standing at 6’11”, Mickell would be tied with Bosh and Pittman as the team’s tallest player. However, unlike those two, Gladness uses his size and length primarily on the defensive end. He showed it off significantly at the college level, averaging 6.2 blocks per in his second year with Alabama A&M, and we even got a glimpse at the NBA level with the 1.1 blocks per he averaged with Golden State.

Gladness isn’t that far away from rotation minutes at the five. Although the Heat’s rotation is deep, with Allen and Lewis filling out two spots, the team still needs size to play at the five. With the lone possibilities outside of Bosh being Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman, Gladness could easily vault over those two for minutes.

Gladness’ size could prove to be significant. He’s an athletic shot-blocker who could hold the fort down in the coming years. But the only way that happens is if the Heat sign him and begin giving him minutes now. He won’t end up being the starter by the end of the season, but he could give the Heat something to look forward to if they choose to go that route.

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