NBA Free Agents 2012: 10 Cheap Players Who Complement LeBron James
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LeBron James was able to stave off elimination in Boston on Thursday night, but the quest for his first NBA title still has a long way to go. Miami's run may still end on Saturday night in South Beach or in the coming weeks to Oklahoma City. In the event that James once again falls short of his ultimate goal, the Heat will look to the free-agent market to try to find the answer.
Unfortunately, due to the big contracts on the books of Miami, they will be forced to seek out inexpensive solutions. Over the past few years, Miami has not exactly hit home runs with signings. Players like Mike Miller and James Jones have not yet lived up to expectations.
Luckily for the Heat organization, free agency this summer is filled with valuable pieces that won't break the bank. These 10 players will come on the cheap and would serve as great complements to LeBron James on his journey towards an NBA Championship.
Marcus Camby could be the legitimate center LeBron has needed.
Marcus Camby has just finished out a two-year contract that he signed with the Portland Trailblazers before being traded in March to Houston.
At 38-years-old, Camby will ponder retirement, but he would be remiss not to consider taking a cheap one-year deal in hopes of winning an NBA Championship with the Heat. For all of Camby's accomplishments; Defensive Player of the Year in 2007, four-time NBA leader in blocks and four selections to the NBA's All-Defensive teams, he has yet to win a championship.
During LeBron's era in Miami, his starting centers have been a long list of stiffs, young and old. While Camby may not have a lot left in the tank, he provides a better option than the likes of Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf. Camby still hauled in nine rebounds and blocked 1.5 shots per game in 2011. In his prime, no one was better at protecting the rim than Camby.
Kirk Hinrich is a great role player.
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Kirk Hinrich has played the role of veteran backup over the past few seasons in Washington and Atlanta. In 2011, with the Hawks, he finished out the final year of a five-year $47.5 million deal. Since he has not lit the world on fire over the past few seasons, that number will likely plummet for his next deal.
Hinrich still has a lot of tread on his tires at 31-years-old. He had a down season in 2011, particularly in the playoffs. However, Hinrich brings a lot of experience to the table, having played in seven postseasons in his eight-year career.
The Heat's backup guard situation has a lot of holes in it. Hinrich's experience and ability to play both the one and two-guard positions would be valuable off the bench in Miami. Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole could benefit from having Hinrich on the roster.
Kris Humphries' size and rebounding could help LeBron.
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While Kris Humphries may be on the more expensive side in comparison with other players on this list, I believe the Heat could make him a proposal early and wrap him up for less than he is worth.
Humphries thought he would be able to sign a long-term deal at the end of last season. However, the interest was just not there. He wound up signing for one-year and $8 million with the New Jersey Nets. He still put up solid numbers, averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds per game in 2011-2012.
If the Heat choose to offer Humphries some stability, he may come down in price for a long-term deal in Miami. Humphries is still just 27-years-old and a better player than the older Udonis Haslem. He would give immediate rebounding help and also a viable consistent scoring option outside the big three.
Ray Allen would be the perfect player to open up the middle.
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Any time you have the opportunity to add an inexpensive future Hall of Famer to your roster, you have to make the move no matter what. Ray Allen is coming off a two-year $20 million contract this offseason and has shown visible decline in his offensive game.
Allen is 36 now and doesn't have many years left in the league. The one thing he can still do is knock down open three-pointers and that may be just what Miami needs. The Heat have tried with numerous different players to fill that role. Mike Miller and James Jones have not done a good enough job this year and the Heat may make a play for Allen's services.
Ray is sure to be a sought-after free agent after the playoffs are through, but for now, LeBron should remain focused on stopping him than trying to play with him.
Steve Novak became a sharp shooter for the Knicks in 2012.
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Should Ray Allen choose retirement or to re-up with the Boston Celtics, Miami could go after another sharpshooter in Steve Novak.
Novak is due for a decent raise from his last contract that saw him earn under $1 million in 2011. With the New York Knicks, Novak made a name for himself as a three-point specialist and they certainly won't want to just let him go this offseason.
The Heat need a player to space the floor consistently to open up lanes for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. If they don't succeed with their current group of long-range shooters, Miami would be smart to invest some money in Steve Novak.
Andre Miller would be a steadying veteran for the Heat.
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Mario Chalmers has been learning the NBA point guard position on the fly over the past couple of seasons. This year, his backup was a rookie out of Cleveland State.
It wouldn't be a bad idea for Miami to look into a cheap veteran point guard with a wealth of professional experience. Perhaps a veteran like Andre Miller from Denver. Miller came off the bench for the Nuggets but still managed to lead the team in assists with six and put up 10 points per game as well.
At age 36, Miller is coming off a three-year deal that netted him $21.8 million. When he signed that deal, he was still playing starter's minutes, so he stands to come down in price this offseason. He could serve well backing up Chalmers and being another distributor for Miami's stars.
Jason Terry would provide a lot of leadership.
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Jason Terry's six-year deal with Dallas will finally come off the books this summer. His $57 million contract was backloaded so he received $11.5 million this past season.
Terry will be 35-years-old before the start of next season and will be making considerably less over the coming years. Terry is still a very talented shooter and could help out by giving the Heat more consistent long-range shooting. He has no trouble coming off the bench and giving immediate offense. Terry won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award in 2009 and still managed over 14 points per game this past season.
He also brings championship experience to the team, which few in Miami possess. Terry has played in the playoffs eight times in his 12-year NBA career.
Delonte West knows LeBron James' game from Cleveland.
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Another Mavericks guard who is also an unrestricted free agent this summer is Delonte West. West has a history with LeBron James, so the Heat pursuing him is not out of the question. The two played together for two seasons in Cleveland.
West was signed last offseason to a one-year deal in Dallas worth $1.4 million. He has already shown an ability to play well with James when he had one of his best seasons in 2008. He spent most of his time in Dallas in the starting lineup.
West has always been a dynamic role player with the capability of scoring the basketball at a high rate. While he is a similar but lesser version of Dwyane Wade, he could have the right amount of skill and experience to be a vital part of the Miami Heat.
Gerald Green has youth and athleticism off the bench.
One thing the Miami Heat lack is a superior athletic bench player who can come into the game and lend a spark to the offense. Gerald Green could develop into that player and showed glimpses this past season in New Jersey.
Miami's bench currently reads as a long list of yawn-inducing role players and slow, aging veterans. There is very little excitement amongst the Heat reserves. Green is an exciting young player who showed some serious progress over the last couple of months of the regular season.
He would be a burst of energy off the Heat bench that they have not had recently. Green would compliment LeBron by inserting a wild card into their team. He made minimal money last season and would sign with the Heat for very cheap. In 31 games with the Nets, he averaged 13 points in 25 minutes.
Goran Dragic is a talented young point guard.
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Goran Dragic may be the most sensible free-agent signing the Miami Heat could make. He made just over $2 million last season in Houston and logic would suggest that he will be offered a similar number this summer.
Dragic is an underrated combo guard with good penetration and distribution skills and decent range on his jump shot. He would add another option to the Miami backcourt to spell Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade.
Dragic is one of those players who can blend seamlessly with a variety of styles and schemes. His talent seemed under-utilized by teams up until a semi-breakout season in 2011, when he averaged 12 points and six assists a game while mostly coming off the Rockets' bench.