At the time of writing this article the Miami Heat have two players under contract for 2014-15, Norris Cole and recent draft pick Shabazz Napier.
Their list of outgoing unrestricted free agents looks like a who’s who of great players past their prime, along with the still unsigned big three.
The goal of this summer for the Heat was to secure the roster and give LeBron some extra help to chase down title number three. They have very little trade assets to make a move in-season so free agency is their only route for significant roster improvement.
After handling the bulk of the workload in the NBA Finals, LeBron needs a few younger players to shoulder some minutes during the regular season, but the Heat are quickly running out of options.
In past few days, several players including Kyle Lowry, Marcin Gortat, Jodie Meeks and Shaun Livingston have all been signed to big deals.
While this has been going on the big three have been having meetings, staying quiet and not really indicating what is going to happen. Is this really their plan and what do they have in store?
Rumours have been flying around that LeBron is commanding a max deal (rightly so) and Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are willing to accept a lot less than they could get on the open market, but so far nothing has been set in stone.
Bosh and Wade proved that they can no longer play heavy minutes all season and be effective, so the slack has to be picked up elsewhere. Given they have rumoured to take pay cuts to reflect their playing value, it is unknown if that is going to be enough for LeBron or any other potential free agent.
It’s a very weird situation as there is an increasing chance that LeBron could sign elsewhere if the Heat don’t pick up some players quickly. Pat Riley has already bowed to his demands by trading up in the draft to get Shabazz Napier – even though he claimed that he was not acting on behalf of LeBron.
But who can they sign?
2014 Remaining Free Agents
Pau Gasol (Unrestricted) – Pau has apparently called Pat Riley but there is no indication that there will be any serious talks. Pau is also being courted by the Thunder duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the Lakers are also desperate to construct a half decent roster.
Kris Humphries (Unrestricted) – The Heat really need a big man or two to add to their roster and Humphries could be an interesting fit. He may not be the most athletic big out there, but he knows how to score and may be willing to take a pay cut after that massive two year and $20million contract he was on just expired.
Vince Carter (Unrestricted) – Vinsanity is in the twilight of his career but still has something to contribute to this Heat team. His time in Dallas proved he could be a serviceable role player but he would have to accept the veteran’s minimum for the Heat to afford him and another decent veteran.
Evan Turner (Unrestricted) – Do the Heat roll the dice on Turner with their remaining cap space and hope it works out? He is young and talented but did fade into the background for Indiana last season. Risky but the upside is there.
Caron Butler (Unrestricted) – Butler thrived on the Thunder side after being bought out by the Bucks last season but would be commanding a lot more than the veterans minimum. He will slot right into the Heat line-up and contribute from the get go.
Richard Jefferson (Unrestricted) – Jefferson has been haunted by the massive contract he was given by the Spurs in the last two seasons and was really only in the league as an expiring contract. However, last season with the Jazz he rediscovered some of the magic that made him a good player and was even dunking in game. He won’t be commanding much so the Heat could pick him up on the cheap.
Other Possibilities: Greivis Vasquez (R), Emeka Okakor (U), Anthony Tolliver (U), C.J Miles (U), Danny Granger (U) and Francisco Garcia (U).
With a lot of big names already gone, it is hard to imagine the Heat being able to construct a roster that will be competitive for the entire regular season and last the distance in the 2015 NBA Playoffs.
Does this leave the door open for LeBron to bail on Miami? Yes it does, but word is he has put a lot of thought into his legacy and switching teams would open up old Decision wounds with many NBA fans.
Another factor going against the Heat is the fact that the Lakers also need to quickly put together a roster and have a heap of cap space to potentially outbid the Heat.
I could wake up tomorrow and find the Heat trio have all signed for $5million each along with Melo, Gasol, Frye, Nowitski and Ariza, but right now it looks very shaky in South Beach.