Miami Heat’s Big 3: What’s Next? #NBA
With or without a championship, the Miami Heat will have to rebuild this offseason. Right now, they’ve coasted past the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference into the 2014 NBA Finals.
Now the question is, what’ll happen this offseason, win or lose? Will LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh ALL stay in South Beach? Or will they defect?
Odds are, they’ll stick together. Chris Bosh said he’s going to stay in Miami, and because he is a great friend to James and Wade, it’s very likely they’ll stick around too. So what does that mean for the Heat’s salary cap, along with the salaries of James, Wade, and Bosh?
Most likely, LeBron will get the max contract that he deserves. As a two-time NBA champion with MVP awards to boot, Miami Heat team president Pat Riley will give him max money. Wade? He’ll take a pay cut because he has to rest about a third of the season with his achy knees. Bosh? He’ll get close to a max deal, similar to what he took when he arrived in Miami with James and Wade.
Other than the Big Three, I think Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem (barring retirement at age 33), and Mario Chalmers are locks to stay. Norris Cole (pictured left) is a fierce defender and can shoot threes and Haslem can sort of shoot that baseline jumper, but can get timely rebounds. Mario Chalmers, even with all the grief and criticism he gets from the Big Three, is better than most point guards out there other than your star guards like Chris Paul. Chalmers has a knack for hitting big shots, too.
So that’s 6 of the 15-man roster, which means the rest of the roster is iffy. I mean, take a look at this year’s roster here. Let’s say the Heat win. Will Ray Allen and Shane Battier ride into the sunset and retire? Probably, since both have nothing else to prove. Chris “Birdman” Andersen, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, and Michael Beasley will probably be gone win or lose. I just don’t see them sticking around much longer. Oden hasn’t played much in the playoffs and Beasley has not played much either. Birdman and Lewis have provided timely defense off the bench, but they are getting up there (Birdman is 35 years old, Lewis is 34). Although Rashard has had several eye-opening playoff performances against the Pacers, the real question is whether he can contribute day in and day out when he rarely played the past year. James Jones is a Heat favorite of Riley, even with his diminished role with the team and he can shoot lights-out threes. I say Jones is a 50-50 to stay in Miami.
That leaves 6 players gone for next year, and with the Big Three, Cole, Haslem, Chalmers and Jones, meaning there are 8 spots open. Who else is left?
Justin Hamilton (who?) and Toney Douglas. Hamilton was a good NBA D-League player with a split of 19.2 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game in 32 D-League games played (via Basketball Reference), but only played 68 total minutes this past season with Miami. Here’s one D-League game where he dropped 21 points:
Douglas barely scores as it is (look at his stats on Basketball Reference), but I understand he is an OK defender. They could return, depending on how the Heat drafts and which veterans they sign, but I count Hamilton in and Douglas out. So that leaves 7 spots open.
I hear that they’re working out Russ Smith (pictured above) for the draft, who was a good scorer at Louisville, and they could probably get him there at the 26th spot in the first round. I mean, the guy can shoot and you can count on him in the clutch. Check out this game-winner versus Cincinnati this past season:
So 6 spots left. Now, based on Riley’s past work with veterans taking veteran minimum salaries, I will bet that he will sign a mix of role players who can rebound, finish at the rim, defend the perimeter and shoot threes.
In the end, the Heat will be in contention to win in a weak Eastern Conference with the Big Three back together.