Looking In The Wrong Place

Photo by ndunnewind from Flickr

If the Heat cannot sign preferred choices Shane Battier, Grant Hill or Tayshaun Prince postlockout, Miami will consider Michael Redd and Tracy McGrady, among others.

via UM’s Armstrong, Forston, Benjamin trying to take next step – Sports Buzz – MiamiHerald.com.

The Miami Heat were two games (or fourth quarters) away from winning the NBA title. Not bad for a roster assembled right before (and during) the season. Regardless of your feelings towards LeBron & Co., there has to be a sense of admiration for what they achieved. Building a championship-level team isn’t easy, it takes time. More importantly, it takes team chemistry. Talent doesn’t always prevail, despite false perceived notions. The fact that Miami destroyed the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls Keyser Soze-style is praiseworthy; it was truly an amazing sight to see.

When the Heat were at their best, there might have been a more fun team to watch other than … wait for it … the Dallas Mavericks. No, they didn’t match the Celtics’ 2008 success and win it all. But for all of their flaws, which were much more notable than the ’08 Celtics’ squad, they still managed to compete for a title. More importantly, it appears time  is their friend, as they’ll have at least a few years to win multiple championships.

Assuming this lockout eventually ends, there will have to be some sort of free agency period, in which the Heat will try and find their missing piece. As of right now, only James, Wade, Bosh, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are under contract, a pretty top-heavy roster lacking size and shooting (unless Miller returns to form). Unless Chalmers is their desired PG, which is debatable, the Heat may look for an upgrade their as well. And oh yeah, there’s that missing piece down low, where Anthony has done his best to hold down the fort.

As mentioned in the above quotation, the Heat are looking at the elite wings of this free agent class (Butler and Kirilenko excluded). The logic here is that Miller isn’t that good, so the Heat will need someone who can back up Wade and James for 15-20 minutes a night. In a perfect world it’s Battier or Hill (Prince isn’t likely to. But this isn’t a perfect world. Both will likely command much more lucrative offers, and the Heat will likely not have much more than the veteran’s minimum to offer. Of course, either one could take a massive pay-cut in leu of winning a title, but even joining a star-studded Heat team wouldn’t assure Battier or Hill of their elusive NBA championship.

Sorry to Scott Leedy in advance, but T-Mac and Redd aren’t the answer either. McGrady surpassed expectations last season, but wasn’t that good of a player. He can provide ballhandling and passing, plus an all-around game, but won’t provide the shooting the Heat need to help stretch the floor. At the minimum? Maybe. But anything more? No thanks. Which brings us to Redd, one of the better shooters of the past decade. He’s injury-prone, and probably nothing more than a spot-up shooter at this point.

The Heat, as currently constructed, are fine. Yeah, they have flaws, but they also have two of three best perimeter players and another top-10 big man. Chalmers took major strides last season, looking more and more like a starting PG for years to come. He still has wrinkles he needs to iron out, but he’s a good, cheap option. Haslem and Anthony do adequate jobs as the ‘other’ big, each bringing something different to the table (most notably defense and toughness). Cole has decent potential and will hopefully bring back his awesome flattop. Miller does Miller things; he’s a shooter who dealt with hand and thumb problems all season. Maybe next year he comes back better. Maybe not. Either way, they’re stuck with him.

The point is, the Heat will be contending for the next five seasons whether or not they add another ‘big’ piece. But, if they choose to do so, they must be smart, as one mistake (like Miller, at this point) can completely destroy their cap space. There’s not doubt that the Miller/Jones wing combo off the bench can be improved upon, but going out and spending a lot of money on bench players that play the same position as your two best players isn’t a smart idea. Add size, shooting or athleticism. Go get Sam Dalembert. Go get Raymond Felton (just kidding). If you want to improve, add where you’re weak, not where you’re strong.

Seth Carstens