Two Available Players Miami Heat Must Target
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat have been busy in free agency thus far, but their work is not finished yet.
So far this offseason, the Heat have signed the greatest three-point shooter of all time in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. While Lewis hasn't been productive in the past two seasons, he figures to have one job for the Heat in the upcoming season: stretch the floor and make open threes.
Hitting open threes was exactly what Lewis thrived doing during his prime. While he won't shoot over 40 percent from behind the arc over the course of a whole season again, he is enough of a threat to force defenses to account for him.
With their current roster, Miami look like they are poised to defend their title.
The question is, where can the Heat improve?
At point guard, they have Mario Chalmers who proved his worth during this year's playoff run, and Norris Cole, who showed flashes of brilliance during his rookie season.
Allen and Wade will handle the shooting guard duties, and they will do so quite admirably.
It starts to get interesting with the small forward position because of LeBron.
James can easily play either the small forward or power forward position extremely well, and he can even play center if needed. However, as long as Chris Bosh is with the team and healthy, LeBron won't see much time at center.
LeBron's versatility gives the Heat front office flexibility, to the point where they can simply focus on putting the best team on the floor because their MVP can do it all.
Rounding out the small forward position are Shane Battier, James Jones and the newly signed Lewis.
The truth is that LeBron is so great and plays so many minutes that it doesn't really matter who is backing him up.
What the Heat need is another big body inside, but that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
While Udonis Haslem does bring grit and strength inside, he isn't getting any younger. His minutes have declined in each of the past four seasons, and he missed the majority of the 2010-11 season due to injuries. If Haslem, or any other member of the Heat frontcourt, were to suffer an injury, the Heat would need to sign a player that no other team wants.
To avoid this happening, the Heat must act now and secure another big man to add depth. It isn't like there are any people in Miami saying that they are thrilled to have Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman playing center for them.
There is room to improve, granted that improvement may be marginal, but a marginal improvement could mean the difference between a championship and a disappointing season when the stakes are highest.
The problem is that the Heat cannot offer anything more than the veteran minimum to any player they were to sign. So they would have to hope that the chance to chase a title would outweigh the opportunity to earn more money with another team.
Will the Miami Heat repeat as NBA Champions?
Here are a couple of players that the Heat should target before wrapping up their personnel moves.
Ivan Johnson, 6'8", Power Forward
Previous Team: Atlanta Hawks
Before you flip your keyboard, think about the intensity that Johnson brings on a nightly basis. He was a long shot to make the Hawks roster last season but played hard and eventually worked his way into their frontcourt rotation.
The Heat don't need a big time player to fill out their roster. A tough-nosed player with a never-ending motor like Johnson could be exactly what they need when next season rolls around.
Last season with the Hawks, Johnson averaged 6.4 points on 51.3 percent shooting while grabbing four rebounds per contest. While those numbers aren't great by any stretch, the Heat could use anyone that could help them on the glass.
If it is possible, the Heat will have an even bigger bull's eye on their back next season. Their NBA title has made them the clear front-runners to win another championship in 2013 so their opponents will be focused when playing them next season.
A player like Johnson could go a long way in tilting the momentum back in Miami's direction in the middle of a close game while their stars rest on the bench.
Considering the fact that Johnson is still on the market, he would probably be willing to settle for the veteran's minimum and the exposure that will come with playing on a team that is virtually guaranteed a deep playoff run.
Chris Chambers/Getty Images
Bringing in Johnson doesn't come close to assuring next year's NBA title comes to South Beach, but his tenacity and grit could add a level of toughness to a team that could use every bit of fight they can get.
Louis Amundson, 6'9", Power Forward/Center
Previous Team: Indiana Pacers
Like Johnson, Amundson wouldn't make teams more worried about playing the Heat but he would bring energy off the bench.
Amundson already has played on a contender, last season with the Pacers, so he wouldn't be overwhelmed by the higher level of quality of play that comes with the postseason.
He would bring a lot of the same things that Johnson would bring to the table without the same edge.
If the Heat decided to move forward and attempt to sign Amundson, then they know what they're getting. He has the ability to give them around 15 solid minutes per night, but they shouldn't expect much from him on the offensive end of the floor.
Last season, Amundson averaged 3.5 points per game on just 43 percent shooting, which is a pretty bad conversion rate for a big man.
While neither of these big men are something to get excited about, it is the best that the Heat can do at the moment.
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