While the party in South Beach may continue all offseason for the fans of the Miami Heat, the executives, coaches, and front office personnel have to get back to work. The long offseason for the NBA will officially begin tonight with the NBA Draft.
Although they won the NBA Championship and seem destined to begin a dynasty, Pat Riley’s job may be harder than it seems – it surely helped when he signed three of the biggest free agents in the 2010 offseason, however.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and adjusted salary cap will make it difficult for the Heat to keep the same roster year in and year out. Due to the high salaries of the core, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the supporting cast for the superstars seems likely to change every year. This is why the NBA Draft is so pivotal for teams like the Heat – while they only have the #27 overall pick in the draft, they have to use it wisely because the player they select may wind up playing a supporting role just as Norris Cole did last season.
So what direction will the Heat go with their pick? It is tough to predict. If you break down their roster by position, they seem to be alright at point guard with Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. The point guard in the Heat system doesn’t even pass or carry the ball upcourt half the time courtesy of the presence of both Wade and James.
Shooting guard is an interesting position because behind Wade, who will be having offseason knee surgery and may miss the Summer Olympics because of it, you have Mike Miller. And while Miller was a nice player to have coming off the bench because he could spread the floor and bury the three pointer, rumors have surfaced that he will consider retirement this offseason. These rumors have been shot down but with all of his injury problems, even if Miller does return it is unlikely to expect him to play an entire season or even be 100% when he does play.
Small forward is jam packed by LeBron James, arguably the best player in the NBA, and Shane Battier, a solid defender and an above average three point shooter (38.2% for his career). Combined, with James and Battier, the Heat have two of the best perimeter defenders in basketball. It is highly unlikely that the Heat take a small forward in this years draft.
Between power forward and center the Heat have 3 unrestricted free agents. Eddy Curry, Ronny Turiaf, and Juwan Howard are all eligible for free agency, and since Curry and Howard barely played, they might try and find some playing time elsewhere. Is the combination of Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, and Joel Anthony good enough? Dexter Pittman is also on the bench but has only played 37 games in his two seasons as a member of the Heat, for a combined 8.4 minutes per game.
I think that the Heat found their winning combination during the playoffs, sliding LeBron James up to the power forward spot where he is virtually unguardable. If I were to guess at what the Heat will do tonight, I would say that they will trade or sell their pick. Teams such as the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Los Angeles Clippers are all without first round picks this draft. The Nets have been known to move up in past drafts, and the Knicks have bought a pick in the past, such as when they paid the Los Angeles Lakers for the rights to point guard Toney Douglas.
If they do keep their pick, I expect the Heat to take either a shooting guard to back up Wade if Miller retires or is injured next season, or a center to add some size to the bench. I think that 7 foot, 260 pound center Fab Melo from Syracuse is a great fit but he is unlikely to be on the board at the time the Heat’s pick rolls around.
If I was a betting man I would say there is a 75% chance the Heat trade or sell their pick and a 25% chance they keep it. We will see what happens tonight.
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