After claiming their first championship together as this current unit, the Miami Heat are now in pole position to sign some of the best unrestricted free agents that are available this Summer.
Steve Nash, Jason Terry, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups and Lou Williams are just a few of the plethora of key role players available. Brandon Roy is expected to come out of retirement after he has made significant progress with his then career ending knee injuries.
Roy is one of my personal favourite players I have ever seen play, and on his game he was just about as good a guard as anyone in the league.
Who could forget this shot…and this call…
But looking past him, future Hall of Famers like Garnett, Allen, Kidd and Nash are extremely attractive to the elite contenders. Jason Terry and Lamar Odom, former Sixth Man of the Year winners and Greg Oden, a former no.1 pick too offer intrigue.
Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Brandon Roy, Chris Kaman, J Terry and Andre Miller are just a few that have either publicly or privately stated an interest in joining the Heat. Terry and Nash have been quoted as being very interested in taking their talents to South Beach, even before they won the Championship.
With Juwan Howard to retire, likely James Jones and Mike Miller to follow and a decision to make on Ronny Turiaf, Dexter Pittman and Terrell Harris, the end of the bench will likely look vastly different than it did this past season and will open up positions for reinforcements.
They currently have the third highest payroll in the NBA, but that could be reduced depending on the decisions the team and some players will make over the next few weeks. They will have money to offer a couple of the bigger name free agents, but they will certainly have to take a pay cut to join the Heat, certainly if there is more than one new face.
They will have the full mid level exception available, which they can either split up or use in full on one player and try and convince others to sign for the veterans minimum.
Obviously the biggest need for Miami is a center. They hold the 27th pick in the draft this year and will most likely use it on either Fab Melo from Syracuse, Festus Ezeli from Vanderbilt or they could even move up for or hope Jared Sullinger falls into their laps, although that is a pipe dream.
Dalembert had a chance to join the Heat last year, but instead chose Philadelphia because he wanted the payday and didn’t think he’d get the shots. It didn’t work out. It’s unlikely he will be given a second chance by Miami. Kaman however is certainly a target, although also something of a pipe dream as it’s expected he generates a decent amount of interest and money in free agency.
Steve Nash is the most intriguing of the free agents for Miami. Obviously he is one of the best pure points guards the NBA has ever seen. A 2 time MVP, perhaps the best passer since Magic Johnson and a perennial 50% from the field, 40% from three, 90% from the line shooter. Everyone would love to have him, but does he necessarily fit with the Heat and what they are doing? In my opinion, no.
The Heat’s identify is defense. Nash is known to be something of a liability defensively. He is at his most effective in the pick and roll game, something that is not a main ingredient of Miami’s offense, although the Wade-James pick and roll was nearly indefensible through the playoffs. Nash needs the ball in his hands, which would take touches away from James and Wade.
There’s no doubting their offense, when at it’s most fluent, would rival anything the NBA has ever seen should Nash be thrown in, but if you look at the whole picture, it’s not really a necessity. The performance of Mario Chalmers not only in the playoffs but throughout the season was key to the Heat’s success. They have Norris Cole as a ready made backup and potential starter of the future waiting in the wings. Nash would be fun, but I think there are other needs.
For me the dream scenario for Miami is this:
Draft Fab Melo, sign Jason Terry and Ray Allen.
Melo is a 7ft rebounder, shot blocker and won’t take scoring possessions away from the Big 3 and their shooters. Other than the center position, Miami’s biggest flaw last season was their bench, or lack of it. Surprisingly it was the Heat’s bench that offered significant contributions for Miami in the Finals, but they certainly need to strengthen it and find more consistent scoring, especially if Miller retires. Ray Allen would be absolutely frightening in this offense. He would be placed in the perfect role, absolutely no pressure and all he has to do is shoot when he’s open, and that would be A LOT. Jason Terry could offer more scoring and even playmaking off the bench. He can give the team a real spark and allow the Heat to play a small lineup without a true point guard more effectively. Terry also spreads the floor for the Big 3.
Should Miller stay, I can’t see both Allen and Terry joining. But it’s a truly frightening thought for the rest of the league.
The names mentioned above will have to make a conscious decision about their future. Are they more interested in money and playing for a team with a much lower chance of winning, or they can put their greed aside in what could be their last chance at winning an NBA Championship.
Nonetheless, LeBron’s words are no longer being seen as a joke, they’re now treated as an ominous warning.