Regardless of how the remainder of the 2011-2012 NBA season plays out, the line of free agents yearning to take their talents to South Beach will undoubtedly wrap around the block a few times.
Miami will be just as eager to add as much talent and veteran presence as the salary cap will permit.
Throwing a wrench into those plans is the inconvenient truth that Miami is already a little hamstrung by carrying the large salaries of LeBron James ($16 million per year), Chris Bosh ($16 million per year), and Dwyane Wade ($15.6 million per year).
Any free agents wanting to don a Heat uniform next season will likely have to sign for less than they could get elsewhere. For many, such as the following 10 players, that will be a worthwhile sacrifice.
The ageless wonder is an ideal fit in Miami for a number of reasons. With Nash reportedly looking for a three-year deal, Miami could make Nash’s cap number palatable by giving him the length of contract he’s asking for.
Nash is also much more likely to take a deal for much less than he is actually worth considering his age and his desperation to win at least one ring before his illustrious career is over.
The thought of a fully healthy Nash playing alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade is paralyzingly scary. Frankly, I’m torn about the prospect of Nash taking his sugarless talents to South Beach.
From the perspective of a non-Heat fan, it almost automatically makes Miami a shoo-in to steamroll the competition in the Eastern Conference and represent the East in the 2013 NBA Finals.
Looking at it purely as a basketball fan, would there be anything more breathtaking than to watching Nash expertly facilitate the Miami offense, making dazzling passes to a cutting and unstoppable LeBron or coolly knocking down three after three when the defense stays home on James and Wade?
I just got the shivers.
Allen could opt for retirement if the Celtics do the impossible and triumph over injuries and age to win one more NBA championship with the “original big three.”
However, Allen will most likely be seriously looking at joining the fourth team of his NBA career.
Allen has experienced being a spark off the bench for a portion of this season and could be even more effective doing the same alongside LeBron and D-Wade. Allen could also give Miami the option of an impressive small lineup, with Wade sliding to small forward, LeBron going to power forward and Bosh/Turiaf/newly acquired big man at center.
Allen’s floor-stretching ability and dead-eye shooting would be a superb addition to the Heat, and will be a move Allen shouldn’t be able to resist.
Ray Allen’s teammate this year should also be seriously considering a move to warmer weather.
Thinking about it now, it seems bizarre picturing Kevin Garnett in the red and white of Miami, fist-bumping LeBron instead of trash-talking him. From a business point of view, the move makes perfect sense for both sides.
KG goes to a team loaded with young talent and ready for a deep playoff run. He wouldn’t be leaned upon too heavily on the offensive end and wouldn’t have to play the grueling minutes he’s been faced with this year.
On the flip side, Miami would be getting a world-class defender and some desperately needed interior defense in addition to someone who is a reliable offensive option in critical situations.
Mr. Big Shot would definitely be a big hit in South Beach, assuming he comes back fully healed from an Achilles tendon injury.
Billups gave an entirely new dimension to the Los Angeles Clippers before the aforementioned Achilles tear prematurely ended his season. Billups’ ability to play either guard spot would create a variety of lineup possibilities that the Heat could exploit to their advantage depending on the opponent.
At worst, Billups could be the leader of the second unit and a veteran presence with a championship ring to boot. Billups would provide backcourt depth and could take some of the load off Wade and LeBron in clutch situations.
Considering his age and injury history, the Heat have a great chance of getting Billups for a bargain.
For Jason “Jet” Terry, the writing on the wall in Dallas seems to be as loud as Craig Sager’s suit.
After winning their first-ever NBA championship, the Mavericks front office declined to retain J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler, two key cogs in the Mavs’ triumph over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.
Whether letting Chandler and Barea go was a ploy to free up cap room to make a run at Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard this offseason or just to get younger and start rebuilding before the bottom completely dropped out, it would certainly be a shock to see Dallas do an about-face on this logic and re-sign Terry, who turns 35 before the start of next season.
Assuming he’s willing to play for a modest salary, Terry could provide a significant spark off the bench and help carry a sizable portion of the scoring load for Miami’s second unit. This could free up LeBron and Wade to focus more on defense when playing alongside Terry, and would also allow for James and Wade to get more of a breather on the bench.
To be frank, I don’t know enough about Goran Dragic’s personality and priorities to know how legitimate of a possibility Dragic taking less money to ink a deal with Miami is.
Dragic is coming off a superb second half of the 2011-12 NBA season and is an unrestricted free agent.
Take into account the fact that Dragic is only 25, and we have the perfect recipe for Dragic to be grossly overpaid this offseason.
Though Dragic’s high level of play and consistent threat of dropping 20 and 10 on any given night has not been substantiated for very long, the possibility of adding a player of such caliber to an already-loaded Heat team should motivate Pat Riley to make a full-court press for Dragic.
A facilitating and energetic point guard like Dragic could unlock a whole new level of offensive efficiency for Miami and would be absolutely terrifying for opponents to deal with.
The recent injury to Chris Bosh only further spotlighted Miami’s glaring weak spot. Miami has a hole in their interior defense as big as Oliver Miller’s buffet plate.
Despite being one of the NBA’s elder statesmen, Camby could provide a desperately needed interior presence and world-class rebounding prowess, something that is almost required for the Heat to finally hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Camby’s age and hunger for a title should enable Miami to snag him for a sweetheart deal.
At first glance, Williams seems to be way out of Miami’s price range considering their prior obligations.
However, the last 15 months have seen Williams’ stock plummet faster than Facebook’s.
In that time, Williams went from being in the conversation for top point guard in the league to a surly under producer who can’t get along with coaches and who listlessly floated through what could be his final season in New Jersey.
The Heat may need to hire South Beach’s finest attorneys, but they just may be able to convince Deron Williams to swallow his pride and accept half of what he’d get elsewhere to join the juggernaut Heat.
The thought is a terrifying one for opponents.
If Williams signs with Miami, whips himself back into top physical form and uses the gargantuan chip on his shoulder to prove all his critics wrong, Miami could legitimately challenge Chicago’s 72-10 mark for the best regular season ever next season.
I hereby declare Ersan Ilyasova the winner of the 2012 “Where Did THAT Come From!??” Award for his mammoth 29-point, 25-rebound effort against New Jersey on February 19th.
Ilyasova had one the best and most out-of-nowhere contract years that we’ve seen in some time, averaging 13 points, eight rebounds and shooting a blistering 46% from behind the arc. If Goran Dragic is number one on the list of free agents most likely to be overpaid, Ilyasova has to be 1a.
I include him on this list with somewhat of an asterisk.
The chances of Ilyasova taking a pay cut of any size are slim to none. With that being said, if Miami believes Ilyasova’s performance this season is the real deal and not a statistical aberration, they should do everything including taking 75 cents on the dollar for Chris Bosh to add Ilyasova to the roster.
Assuming last year’s numbers are legit, Ilyasova would give Miami virtually everything Bosh gives them plus a legit three-point threat and a better rebounder at the power forward position.
Oh, and did I mention Ilyasova is only 25?
Hawes is somewhat of a late bloomer, but is rounding into form right in time for suitors to come calling and offering the 24-year-old center a variety of impressive deals.
Miami should make sure they’re at the front of that line.
Hawes is a more attractive option than virtually any other big man that is a free agent this summer due to his age. Hawes would be a quality player who is still improving and could be locked up for several years as opposed to an aging big man in the twilight of his career who is a one-year stopgap.
Hawes would bolster Miami’s interior defense and rebounding as well as vastly improving the center position offensively, which anyone who has watched Joel Anthony attempt to make a coherent offensive maneuver can tell you is desperately needed.