Last week, I wrote an article dealing with the Miami Heat and their possible response to the trade deadline.
I set myself on firm ground and stood by the belief that this team has no moves to be made. It wasn't about the money. It was more about not disrupting team chemistry and the belief that this team doesn't need size, but a stronger commitment to playing big.
Size is only half the battle because it takes a lot more than being big to be a quality defender, rebounder and scorer near the basket.
It's no secret that the Miami Heat are a small team lacking in size down low. It essentially cost them the finals last year. They couldn't find a player to get points near the basket without having to drive. Since the Heat didn't have a big that could post up, the Dallas Mavericks were able to focus their attention on the slashing duo of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Still, you couldn't put it all on size. The Heat had no reliable shooters and James had a mental breakdown midway through the series. Give the team credit for making it all the way to the NBA Finals with a 6'9" power forward and dinosaurs like Erick Dampier and Zydrunas Ilgauskas playing center for the majority of the year.
If James puts up his usual averages, there wouldn't be too much talk of size being an issue.
Coming into the 2011-12 season, the Heat made the bold move of signing Shane Battier, but not going after a big man. Instead, they lost out on Dampier, Ilgauskas and Jamaal Magloire. That's literally trimming the fat if I've ever seen it. The Heat moved out the old and brought in the new with Shane Battier, Norris Cole, Terrel Harris and Mickell Gladness joining the squad.
Miami did make one big splash, however, by signing Eddy Curry. The former New York Knick was the former laughingstock of the league before he ate his way out of it. He ballooned up to 400 pounds during the time he spent without a team. Miami gave him a few workouts last year, and decided to sign him to the veteran's minimum after he dropped over 100 pounds.
We'll get to him in a moment.
Even though the Heat don't have size, they were always able to make up for it with their speed and athleticism. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were so quick in the passing lane and in the open court that it sped up the tempo of the game, forcing opponents into playing hesitant and avoiding passing it inside because of the threat of another turnover.
Chris Bosh's quickness also played a huge factor. He's not as intense as Kevin Garnett, and he's not big like LaMarcus Aldridge, but he had plenty of speed. That always gave him a considerable edge over his assignment. Bosh's versatility as a jump shooter and driver usually forced the defender into playing on his toes, which allowed open looks for his teammates.
Since Thursday, we've been subjected to the Heat playing without Bosh. He's dealing with personal matters, and it's pretty much been up to James and Wade to save the day. Of course, Bosh's absence would occur during the start of a three-game West Coast road trip that featured games in Portland, Utah and the finale against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Going against those three teams made it even worse. The Trail Blazers had Aldridge, Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla. The Jazz were equipped with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. The Lakers had the dynamic duo of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
This was going to be the stretch to show whether the Heat truly need to make a move at the deadline. Playing without arguably their best rebounder against three of the league's top rebounding teams would be the perfect way to gauge if the Heat had the pieces to overcome the loss of Bosh.
Also, they would see if they had the bigs to make up for the loss of their starting power forward.
It went pretty smoothly in Portland. The Heat won with ease as James and Wade dominated from the onset. They actually beat the Blazers on the boards 41-36, with a 12-8 edge on the offensive glass. James' 11 rebounds, Udonis Haslem's 14 and Joel Anthony's seven gave the Heat a significant edge in a department they were expected to come up short in.
Then it got ugly. Really ugly. Utah outrebounded the Heat 50-32 with an unheralded 23-8 edge on the offensive glass. The Jazz had six players with at least five rebounds, while the Heat only had two. Those two were made by Wade and James, the starting shooting guard and small forward. Miami got four boards apiece from Haslem and Anthony.
However, a huge run by James would bring the Heat all the way back. Some costly moves would put them down by one, but they'd still have the chance to come away with a win. With his team down by one, James received the inbound, absorbed the double team and kicked it out to a wide open Haslem at the foul line.
The unusually inconsistent shooting for Haslem continued as he bricked the shot, leading to the Heat's first loss in 10 games.
It was at this point that I began to wonder what exactly the purpose of the Heat's bigs was. I knew they would get killed on the boards by the Jazz. They have too much size going against a team without a starting power forward that averages eight boards per. We knew Haslem, Anthony and Dexter Pittman would have their work cut out for them.
When Haslem's shot caromed off the rim, it wasn't even close, I sat there and thought to myself, "what's the point?" I've tried to avoid questioning the priorities of the Heat's frontcourt players, but I had to wonder what the Heat could do if they had players who served no purpose.
Haslem has been a Heat legend for his entire career, but this year has been a nightmare for himself, the team and everyone who has been a fan of his for the past nine years.
Haslem has always had the consistent jumper to rely on. When it was just him and Wade, Haslem would always be there to depend on when his team needed him most. He would hit game-winner after game-winner, thanks to Wade's influence sucking in the attention of three defenders.
That mid-range jumper of Haslem's was golden and it's what allowed him to play 30 minutes per game.
Now that the jump shot isn't falling, I wonder what purpose he serves. If he's recording four rebounds and not hitting open jump shots, how are the Heat going to be able to compete against big teams like Chicago in the playoffs? They need that jump shot of Haslem's if they want to thrive in the postseason.
You have to admire Haslem. Even if the jump shot isn't falling, you still have to admire the way Haslem leaves it all on the floor. He went undrafted in 2002, spent some times in overseas, lost some weight and worked his way onto an NBA roster. He's been grateful ever since and has aided the team in winning an NBA title and numerous playoff runs.
However, I moved on. After all, it's a meaningless game against Utah in the regular season without their third best player against a huge team. A one-point loss after being down by 17? You can't be too angry with that, even if nobody is grabbing rebounds and usually-reliable shooters aren't knocking down their shots.
Surely, they would learn from their mistakes after that ugly loss to the Jazz, right?
Wrong. The Heat managed to grab 18 offensive rebounds, but they were outrebounded 44-35 overall. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 23 rebounds alone. Outside of LeBron James' 13 boards, the entire Heat team that played grabbed a combined 22 rebounds. That's right. Two Laker seven-footers outrebounded nine Heat players.
It was staggering how awful the Heat's bigs were. Simply embarrassing, pathetic and depressing to watch. Whether it was Joel Anthony dropping every entry pass, Haslem missing open jumpers, Juwan Howard missing point blank layups or Dexter Pittman passing out of post-ups when Steve Blake was on him, it was hard to not vomit while watching those three play.
Their overall stats for the day? A collective 12 points on 2-of-16 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Bynum alone had 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with 13 rebounds, two assists and four blocks. One Laker center did far more damage than four players the Heat were trying to pass as centers.
I know things would have been different without Chris Bosh, but you have to plan for things like this. What if Bosh was out for the rest of the season, instead of the next three days?
Are we going to have to sit here and believe that four players who just shot a combined 2-of-16 are capable of making up for the loss of someone who's posting up 18 points and eight rebounds per?
It sounds hard to believe, but the Heat aren't going anywhere without Bosh. He means so much more to this team than Wade and James because those two are interchangeable. You can survive with only one slasher, but you need a big man that can consistently score, rebound or defend if you want any chance of winning a title.
The Heat don't have the reliability off the bench when it comes to the four and five. They have plenty of help at the one, two and three position, but there is absolutely no consistency or reliability at the power forward and center position behind Chris Bosh. It took us quite a few games to realize this, and it's ended up in two consecutive Heat losses.
So, what do the Heat do? Do they hope and pray that Chris Kaman is willing to take the most significant pay cut in the history of professional sports?
Hope that Haslem gets his jump shot back?
Maybe send Pittman back to the D-League to get some work done?
How about hoping that Curry somehow gets into basketball shape?
Speaking of Curry, he must truly be awful if Juwan Howard is getting minutes ahead of him. It's baffling to think that a 38-year-old who can't get off the ground and a 23-year-old who appears to be scared every time he steps on the floor can provide more of an impact. But there's obviously something that the Heat coaching staff sees that we don't.
The fact that he's not getting playing time against huge teams like the Jazz or Lakers is proof that Curry isn't even close to being ready.
But back to the subject at hand of what the Heat could possibly do before this trade deadline. As far as a trade goes, it seems to be out of the question. With the way guys like Haslem, Pittman and Mike Miller have been playing this season, their contracts seem impossible to move.
Even if Haslem took a pay cut to come here, nobody is going to want to trade for someone who's in the middle of the worst slump of his career and coming off season-ending foot surgery.
Pittman is huge, but he's so incredibly raw that the Heat won't get much out of him. Mike Miller's not going to be wanted anywhere because of how absurd his contract his. He'd be making $6 million per year over the next four seasons if a team is willing to trade for him, and I highly doubt there's a team out there ready to take that on.
A trade won't happen, so will the Heat become desperate enough to go after a free agent center? Highly doubtful. They tried that out last year with Dampier and it failed to do much. If a center is still a free agent while Kwame Brown is still on an NBA roster, then there's a reason they haven't been picked up by any team.
Reliable centers are extremely difficult to find, and the Heat won't find any in free agency. They already made a bid for Joel Przybilla, and he scorned the team to rejoin his former team in Portland, as well as Kenyon Martin, who decided to join the Los Angeles Clippers.
For a team with three All-Stars, it's surprising to see some of these players go to other teams with inferior talent.
What the Miami Heat should do for the trade deadline is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Don't make any noise. Don't even involve yourself in discussions. As amazing as it would be for the Heat to acquire Kaman, he's not going to make $13 million less than he's making now just to become a starter on a championship-bound team.
The Heat don't have much of a choice other than to embrace and kiss Bosh's feet when he returns and hope that Haslem recovers his jump shot. He's been in a depressing slump since the beginning of the season, but maybe we could blame it on the lack of practice.
He is coming off serious foot surgery, you do need a foot to shoot after all, and hasn't had much time to work on his jumper.
There are plenty of players in the league currently struggling with their jump shot. The Mavericks told Dirk Nowitzki to take a few games off because his jumper was so off. The Heat can't afford to tell Haslem to sit it out, but instead continue to put their trust in him and hope that he eventually works his way out of this funk he's in.
Haslem is a warrior and he's not going to give up. Trust me when I say that Udonis will find that jump shot by the time the postseason starts. He's too committed of a player to simply fall off the map and no longer be looked at as a trustworthy, reliable and consistent option of the bench.
Every NBA team has a deficiency. No matter how good of a team they are and how well-rounded we perceive them to be, every team has at least one fatal flaw that prohibits them from being perfect. For the Heat, this flaw is their lack of big men that can put a ball in a basket or grab a rebound.
They should just consider themselves lucky that this isn't the 1990's when elite centers were everywhere.
The Heat have nothing to worry about unless Bosh gets hurt and they face a huge team in the playoffs. They had the unfortunate circumstance of playing two of the NBA's biggest teams without him and they were unsurprisingly exposed.
It won't like this every single game because they're going to have Bosh and two of the league's top players to provide support.
Speaking of the Heat's lack of size is pointless. They're not going to improve by going out and getting another player, and they're certainly not going to make a trade. The only thing they can do right now is wait for Bosh to come back, hope Haslem gets his jump shot and still be in good hopes about the progress of Pittman and Curry.
Miami won't match up well in size with any team. But then again, I don't think there are many teams in the NBA that can match up with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Maybe we should write entire articles on every team in the NBA and their fatal flaw of being unable to defend the Heat's starting shooting guard and small forward.
Nah, that's not going to bring in ratings.
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