Miami Heat: Thoughts on the Buyout Market

We Heat fans get bored too easily. In the midst of LeBron James having his nose broken and the Heat having won the past five and eight of their past nine, we’re falling into the trap, once again, of being obsessed with who the Heat will sign to fill out the final roster spot.

The roster spot was recently opened up after Roger Mason, Jr. was traded to the Sacramento Kings. The Heat received a heavily protected pick in return, essentially meaning Miami just wanted to open up a roster spot for anybody who wasn’t Mason, who played 25 games this season and averaged three points on 37 percent shooting.

It’s the second consecutive, non-effective move the Heat have made in a trade deadline. They also traded Dexter Pittman to the Memphis Grizzlies last year for the rights to Ricky Sanchez, who played in a few summer league games for Miami before fizzling out.

It’s been the buyout market that’s always enticed Miami. Rather than making a trade of relative significance, the Heat have preferred waiting for a veteran to shake loose and then promptly signing them to a veteran’s minimum deal.

Those who have joined the Heat in the past under similar circumstances include Mike Bibby.  Chris Andersen and Erick Dampier were also signed midway through a regular season.

With a roster spot suddenly opened up, Heat fans are salivating at the thought of signing another veteran who will most likely bear little to no significance in the playoffs. Sure ‘Birdman’ has been productive, but his signing at a low price came mostly because of the off-court troubles that were surrounding him at the time.

Bibby and Dampier, however? Both extremely ineffective and borderline useless come playoff time. The same might go for whichever veteran the Heat decide to sign, if they even in fact decide to do so, as the eight-man playoff rotation already seems set.

The three off the bench likely to earn consistent minutes in the rotation throughout the playoffs will be Norris Cole, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen. Greg Oden and Michael Beasley will be seldom-used in spot opportunities; Oden likely to be used to combat size, Beasley if instant offense is an absolute necessity.

Otherwise, the Heat are solid. They have their eight-man rotation, and will still likely have Rashard  Lewis, James Jones and Toney Douglas on the bench throughout the rest of the regular season and through the postseason.

Size isn’t a necessity to sign. Not with Oden. A third point guard? They can’t even get Toney Douglas minutes, and why take playing time from Norris Cole anyway?

If there’s anything that could be considered a need for the Heat, it would be some defensive help on the wing; a player that can offer LeBron James some relief on the defensive end, rather than having to rely on a nearing-retirement Shane Battier and a 38-year-old Ray Allen.

Beasley, Lewis and Jones hardly offer any answers, either, which is probably why the Heat decided to sign DeAndre Liggins to a 10-day contract Tuesday morning.

Liggins, a 25-year-old out of the University of Kentucky, was a second-round selection of the Orlando Magic in 2011. He played 17 games his rookie year, averaging only 1.7 points and being allowed to walk during free agency. From there, he’d sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, where it was more of the same, although he did have 11 points and 9 rebounds in the lone start of his career.

He shot 37 percent on 19 three-point attempts that year, as well.

Liggins was likely brought in for his athleticism and perimeter defense. The D-League team that he was a part of, the Sioux Falls SkyForce, allowed a league-best 98.2 points per 100 possessions in DeAndre’s time on the floor.

But he was only signed to a single ten-day contract, meaning that we could still have the Heat sign one of the numerous veterans that have already been brought out, if Liggins doesn’t prove himself enough to warrant a second ten-day deal.

One name that has been consistently brought up has been Danny Granger, who was traded to Philadelphia and has been talking buyout ever since.

Granger, who will turn 31 in April, has been dealing with injuries that limited him to five games in the 2012-13 season and 29 underwhelming games this year. He’s shooting a paltry 36 percent from the field, 33 percent from beyond the arc, and was averaging 8.3 points off Indiana’s bench.

Surprisingly, the Pacer defense actually improved when he was on the floor. While they give off 95.4 points per 100 possessions when he’s off, they only gave up 90.1, the lowest on the team, when he was on. However, the offensive efficiency plummeted from 103.4 when off to only 98.7 when on.

He actually ranked eighth in points per possession given up, holding opponents to 30 percent shooting. However, he’s been one of the league’s worst spot-up shooters, converting on only 32 percent on 62 spot-up attempts.

If you’re going to sign a player, why not sign someone who’s athletic, young, and has the possibility of being able to hit a shot? Granger has been a shell of his former self and doesn’t appear close to the player who shot 38 percent from three on nearly six attempts and averaged nearly 19 points as recently as 2012.

Plus, does Granger deserve to ride the coattails of LeBron James after the antics he pulled through Indiana’s series with the Heat back in 2012? We couldn’t go through a game without Granger blatantly attempting to entice James into a fight through cheap pulls of his jersey and excessive contact.

But even worse is the Jimmer Fredette talk after his recent buyout. Oh, he can shoot? You know who else can? James Jones, the guy who shoots 40 percent from three for his career, yet has played only 12 games this year.

Why can’t he get minutes? Because his defense and athleticism is extremely suspect. We’ll be saying the same thing about Fredette if the Heat end up signing him. Jimmer has shot 49 percent from three this year, but he ranks 311th in the league defending spot-ups, per Synergy, and is 319th overall in points per possession allowed.

By the way, the Kings were a minus-5.7 when he was on the floor, compared to a minus-1.2 when he was off. Anybody who can make the Sacramento Kings worse than they already are has no place on this Heat team.

I don’t think there’s a need to talk about Metta World Peace, either. It’s not 2008.

Even Caron Butler, the overall favorite of who Heat fans would like to see come back, has been struggling. In 34 games with Milwaukee this year, he’s shooting 39 percent overall and 36 percent from beyond the arc.

Butler, however, does have more upside than any other buyout option. He actually went off for 38 points on 22 shots in a loss to Philadelphia earlier this year. But even his defense has been suspect, as he’s ranked 390th in overall points per possession given up this year, including 306th defending spot-ups.

What he does have going for him is his connection with the organization. As we all know, Butler was drafted by the Heat back in 2002 and spent two years with the team, before being sent over to the Lakers in the deal that brought in Shaquille O’Neal.

Nevertheless, Butler, who won a ring with Dallas in 2011, is still well-received within the organization, as well as Dwyane Wade, who played with Butler on one of the most exciting teams in franchise history on the 2003-04 squad.

To be the bearer of bad news, though, I have yet to hear any sort of rumor swirling around a buyout between the Milwaukee Bucks and Butler. They have until the beginning of March to do so.

At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a point in signing a veteran who can assist the Heat in a playoff run. A young athlete like Liggins is a good project, but there hasn’t been a need for a midseason signing like there has been in the past.

There’s no need for a ‘Birdman’ to address Miami’s woes of lacking someone who can catch-and-finish, nor is there one for a veteran point guard who can shoot the ball like Bibby, who ultimately forgot how to shoot when it mattered most.

There isn’t a need for an outside source. Just about every base is covered, with the exception of a third perimeter stopper, which could be addressed by Liggins. If not, then there isn’t another option out there because it is difficult to find a veteran that has a skillset of being able to defend well and shoot from beyond the arc.

I get that it’s momentarily fun to bring in a name, especially one like Butler, but they’re going to be a non-factor once the games begin to matter. Signing a wild card like Liggins should be just as exciting than if they signed Butler or Granger because of what potentially could be, rather than already knowing.

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