NBA Free Agency 2012: 7 Players Heat Must Avoid If They Wish to Repeat as Champs

Stephen FenechCorrespondent IJuly 3, 2012

NBA Free Agency 2012: 7 Players Heat Must Avoid If They Wish to Repeat as Champs

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    The Miami Heat shocked the basketball world when they easily dispatched the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals in five games. 

    Next season will be much like the past two for the Heat, as they will be depending on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh for the majority of their production. That being said, their supporting cast needs to be improved to take some pressure off their big three. 

    The Heat will certainly focus on acquiring a big man, as it was proven throughout the postseason that the most effective way to score against their world-class defense is inside. 

    The chief problem that the Heat will face in free agency will be how to improve their team with very little cap flexibility. 

    The Heat front office must be careful in free agency, as they must make sure that they sign players that will mesh with their existing team. Here are some players that Pat Riley should avoid bringing to South Beach. 

Jermaine O'Neal

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    Jermaine O'Neal's last healthy season was two years ago as a member of the Miami Heat. For the 2009-10 season, he averaged 13.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. 

    Since then, O'Neal has only started 34 games, mostly due to injuries. Over the past two seasons, O'Neal has continued to struggle with knee problems and had season-ending surgery on his wrist a few months ago. 

    The reason O'Neal appears on this list is due to his inability to stay on the court. In order for a player to help a team, they need to be healthy enough to contribute. 

    Based upon recent history and the wear and tear that O'Neal has put on his body, it seems unlikely that he would be able to make it through a grueling NBA season without missing a significant period of time. 

    The Miami Heat must focus on bringing in a big man that won't be entering his 17th season in the NBA, as O'Neal will be doing when next season starts.  

    O'Neal has had a good career, and it would have been even better if he hadn't struggled with knee injuries. But the Heat cannot focus on what he has done, but must focus on what will help them win another title next season. 

Mike Bibby

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    The only person that doesn't know that Mike Bibby's career is over is Bibby himself. Once upon a time, he was an excellent point guard who narrowly missed out on leading his team to the NBA Finals on multiple occasions. 

    But at 34 years old, Bibby appears to have very little left in the tank. Last year, Bibby played for the New York Knicks but was unable to contribute much. 

    He averaged a measly 2.6 points, 2.1 assists while averaging just over 14 minutes per game. Bibby's PER is even worse than that, as he managed just a 7.82 rating last season. At this point it feels as if I'm piling on Bibby, but it must be mentioned that he shot 28.2 percent from the field. 

    Considering the fact that Bibby had never shot under 40 percent in his career up until last season, there is no point in arguing that he cannot contribute on a title contender at this point. 

    The Heat have their point guards for the future already on their roster in Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. There is no reason that Heat GM Pat Riley needs to bring in another point guard, especially one that is way over the hill like Bibby. 

Antawn Jamison

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    Antawn Jamison won the Sixth Man of the Year Award way back in 2004 and is still a good scorer. 

    Last season, he averaged 17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and a PER of 16.17 while playing an average of 33.1 minutes per game. 

    While it has long been known that Jamison is a talented scorer, his name never comes up in the great defenders conversation. 

    For his size, 6'9", he should be a better rebounder than he has shown in his career. The Miami Heat definitely need to bring in a player that is good on the glass, and Jamison doesn't fulfill that requirement. 

    While a scorer like Jamison would help the team on offense, especially when Dwyane Wade or LeBron James are on the bench, he wouldn't help the team in the other aspects of the game. 

    It can be argued that the Heat play the best defense in the league. They clearly pride themselves on their defense, so bringing in Jamison doesn't make much sense. 

Derek Fisher

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    It's not often that a team should shy away from signing a five-time NBA champion. But that is exactly what the Miami Heat should do, as they should not pursue Derek Fisher.

    The Heat just saw first-hand that Fisher no longer plays quality defense and that alone makes him a poor fit. 

    Would Fisher hit a few big shots for the Heat late in games?

    Possibly, but his shortcomings on defense would hurt the team more in the long run than a few clutch shots would help. 

    As stated in the Mike Bibby slide, the Heat do not need another point guard. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James will always dominate the ball and they should. During this year's title run, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole proved that they can handle the point guard responsibilities between the two of them. 

    One more thing on Fisher, last year he had a PER of 8.02, while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder

    There is certainly an appeal to bringing in a proven winner to add even more experience to their roster. But bringing in Fisher would be nothing more than subtraction by addition. 

Robin Lopez

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    Robin Lopez never materialized into the player that the Phoenix Suns hoped they were getting when they selected him with the 15th pick in the 2008 NBA draft. 

    In his four seasons in Phoenix, Lopez never averaged more than 8.4 points per game in a season, nor did he ever average 20 minutes or more of playing time. 

    Offensively, Lopez has a very limited repertoire and is a far cry from his brother Brook Lopez on that end. 

    The Miami Heat need a big man but Robin Lopez isn't the player they need. He was disappointing in Phoenix, so there is no reason to believe that he will live up to expectations with a new team.

    The Suns made a qualifying offer for Lopez, so he will probably return to them. There may be a small market for Lopez, those hoping that they can turn around this seven-footer's career. The Heat should avoid Lopez though, and make a play for a big man with a better track record. 

J.R. Smith

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    J.R. Smith is a talented shooter, with what seems like unlimited range. His abilities don't always help his team though, as Smith often takes ill-advised shots that he obviously believes he will make. 

    When on, Smith is one of the hardest players in the league to slow down on the offensive end of the floor. However, Smith tends to have more off-nights than on-nights and would ultimately disrupt the offensive chemistry that the Miami Heat have worked so hard to create. 

    The Heat already have Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, who dominate the ball but are much more efficient scorers. 

    Simply put, the Heat have no reason to try to convince Smith to come to South Beach. His lack of passion on defense is enough of a reason to stop Heat GM Pat Riley from pursuing Smith. 

    Smith is a better fit for a team that needs a scorer that can create his own looks. He has done nothing thus far in his career to suggest that he is a player that can contribute on a contending team. 

    The Heat are the favorites to repeat as champions, and they don't need a selfish player like Smith coming in and hoisting up bad shots. 

Chauncey Billups

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    Chauncey Billups has had an excellent career in the NBA, but all good things must come to an end. 

    Over the span of his 15-year career, Billups has averaged 15.5 points, 5.5 assists while playing an average of 32.2 minutes per game. 

    Last season, he played in 20 games for the Los Angeles Clippers before tearing his Achilles tendon. Prior to the injury, Billups was playing well but it remains to be seen if he will be able to play at the same level when he returns.

    If healthy, Billups would make the Heat a better team, that much cannot be questioned. However, the Heat have very little financial flexibility, and the front office needs to bring in a player that will definitely be able to contribute to next year's quest for a championship. 

    Due to the injury and his age, it seems likely that Billups will lack the explosiveness that he has had in the past. Without that burst, Billups will need to rely on his jump shot more and that would make him one dimensional and easier to guard.