Three Free Agents the Miami Heat Need to Consider

Sorry, delusional Miami Heat fans, but Andrew Bynum isn’t going to end up on this list, nor is he taking his talents to South Beach anytime soon.

Sure he made over $15 million last season for sitting in a suit and getting perms, but with injuries plaguing his career, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bynum is going to chase money before his career is potentially derailed by these nagging injuries that have limited him to playing in more than 65 games only once in a career that has spanned eight years.

That includes last season’s trainwreck with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Miami is extremely short on funds this offseason, even more so than in the past two summers when signing Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. They’re limited to a mid-level exception worth $3 million and the veteran’s minimum worth $1 million.

The Heat is also making it a firsthand priority to re-sign Chris Andersen, the beloved and eccentric high-flying center that joined the team this past January. Unlike past centers before him, such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Ronny Turiaf, Erick Dampier, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman, Andersen is a center worth keeping around because of his size, energy and athleticism.

Juwan Howard is the only other free agent on the Heat roster, but a retirement and a job on the Miami bench could be in his future.

Among other priorities include the Heat possibly shedding some salaries, in order to lessen the hit they’re set to take from the luxury tax. The Heat is nearly $10 million over the limit, meaning they’ll end up paying potentially more than $20 million because of the refined CBA rules that were created to eradicate the stockpiling of All-Stars onto single teams.

It’s already broken up the ‘Big Three’ of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies. The Heat face a similar situation as their ‘Big Three’ could opt-out of their contracts next offseason and find maximum deals elsewhere. If all three wanted to sign back with Miami, however, they’ll be making even less than they are now.

Thus why there is rumbling of possible trades or the use of the amnesty clause on the likes of either Mike Miller, set to make almost $13 million over the next two years if he picks up his player option next season, and Joel Anthony, who will rob the Heat of nearly $10 million over the next two years if he, too, picks up his player option next season.

Both players are expendable. Although Miller’s shot is still one of the purest in the NBA and the effort he gives is unmatched by any player dealing with the injuries he has, there are a number of options waiting on the bench, as well as shooters in free agency, that could take his spot.

As for Joel, his role on the team was usurped by ‘Birdman’ last year and nobody has blinked an eye about it. The Heat have enjoyed seeing one of their centers display something resembling a repertoire on the offensive end.

The Heat will be faced with a number of significant decisions to make in the 2014 offseason, but for now they’re going to have to continue making deals that will keep them from being stagnant.

Even with a second consecutive title in tow, back-to-back series’ against Indiana and San Antonio showcased some flaws that needed to be filled, including just who can limit the likes of Roy Hibbert, a possible Eastern Conference Finals centerpiece for years to come, and Tim Duncan, an ageless legend that could still lead his team to Finals appearances.

The Heat can’t be frivolous with their money, but they do have two important characteristics on their side: championships and LeBron James.

Here’s three players they could convince that legacies are worth more than dead presidents:

Greg Oden

Linked to the Miami Heat since last year, Oden has emerged as arguably the Heat’s biggest target, outside of re-signing Andersen, this offseason. He has continued to be linked to the Heat, with Marc Stein reporting Miami and the San Antonio Spurs as the current frontrunners for the services of the former number one pick.

Oden has had a tough go to start his NBA career. Since being picked up by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007 after an outstanding year at Ohio State, Greg has only played in a total of 82 games. Knee injuries and setbacks after surgeries have derailed the early portion of his career and he hasn’t played in the past two years.

However, Oden is said to be healthy for the first time in a long time, which we would hope after two years of not playing a single minute in the NBA. The 7′, 250-pound behemoth is said to be ready, and he has attracted quite a few suitors already.

So, why would he choose the Heat? For one, there won’t be a heavy demand for minutes. He wouldn’t get thrust into a starting role immediately like some of the lower-tier teams would, but he would still play a significant role on the team as a defender who could potentially limit the influences of guys like Roy Hibbert and Joakim Noah.

In the short amount of time we saw him play, Oden was a defensive stalwart that averaged 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes in a 2009-10 season that saw him play the last 21 games he was a part of.

Like Bynum, however, Oden may want to make his money before another injury could potentially end his career. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers offers him a lucrative deal, despite the two years of NBA absence.

Before he begins his comeback, the 25-year-old should consider taking baby steps before throwing himself into the lion’s den immediately. Playing on a team like the Heat would ease him into that, as the demand for minutes and a significant role on both sides of the court would not be greater than that of teams in desperate need of a center.

Samuel Dalembert

Yeah, he may have scorned the Miami Heat a few times before, but he did say he was interested in joining the Heat as his Milwaukee Bucks were getting pounded in the first-round by Miami.

Dalembert grew frustrated (This guy is a broken record) with Milwaukee after losing minutes to younger options in Larry Sanders, Luc Richard Mbah a moute and Ekpe Udoh.

It’s not like Dalembert has linked to Miami before, however. Before obtaining Shane Battier, the Heat pursued the 6’11”, Haitian-born center to fill a role that was in desperate need of a big man. Instead, Dalembert took a $7 million deal with a Houston Rockets team that would trade him the following offseason.

I know we’re all thinking, “FORGET THIS GUY!”, but there’s nothing wrong with having a perfectly healthy 6’11” center with an offensive repertoire and good shot-blocking skills on this Heat team, especially if he’s willing to play for the mid-level exception.

After making $82 million in his NBA career and playing for two teams that wanted nothing to do with him by the end of the season in the past two seasons, perhaps Dalembert will want to begin chasing rings and not money.

J.J. Hickson

A player that has intrigued me since his final year with the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per on a horrific team, JJ Hickson is coming off a terrific season with the Portland Trail Blazers where he, once again, played good minutes on a bad team.

It almost makes you forget just how awful he was in that one year with the Sacramento Kings. But we’re willing to pin that on the Kings as an organization, than we are on Hickson, who has played solid basketball at every other juncture of his young NBA career.

Hickson’s a long shot, because of the solid play last season and being only 24-years-old, but he does have ties with the Heat in the form of playing with LeBron James, who he played and thrived with in an impressive sophomore season when he averaged nine points and five rebounds per as the Cavaliers’ starting power forward.

He’s an athletic freak and it helps make up for the fact that he’s only 6’9″, allowing him to play center as he did last year with the Blazers. He also played center in his rookie season and final season with Cleveland.

J.J. averaged 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per last year, with no stat being more impressive than the 3.3 offensive rebounds per, 4.1 per 36 minutes, he garnered. In case you weren’t aware, the Heat were the league’s worst offensive rebounding team and it wasn’t really close.

The low offensive rebounding numbers have plenty to do with the Heat’s high shooting-percentage, but they have proven to struggle against teams with huge frontcourts such as Chicago’s and Indiana’s, two roadblocks they could face over the next few years.

Hickson doesn’t have the range of a Chris Bosh, but he showcased a solid jumper that had him converting at a 49 percent completion rate in the 16-25 foot range and 46 percent from 10 to 16 feet.

His numbers close to the basket, however, were a tad odd as he only shot 34 percent from 3-10 feet. Still, being able to hit a jumper and finish around the basket, which he did with a 67 completion percentage, is more than what the Heat would be asking for from a cheap option that would give Miami some reliability for the future.

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