James and Milicic
Fresh off their championship run, the Miami Heat bolstered their already strong roster this offseason by adding the veteran duo of Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen.
While these two acquisitions will surely improve their chances to repeat, the Miami Heat, along with some of the media, obviously don't believe their current rotation is talented enough to take home the Larry O'Brien Trophy next year, as rumors are still swirling around the organization.
The following slides will break down these rumors and determine if they should be labeled fact or fiction.
Earlier this month, Pat Riley reiterated his stance that the Miami Heat will not aggressively pursue a center via free agency. Via The Sun-Sentinel:
"We definitely are going to continue to look for somebody in that spot, but unless there's an injury, we really don't need a center," Riley said. "We signed Chris (Bosh), basically, in my mind, fully in my mind, not in the back of my mind, he was probably going to be our center in critical situations.”
While no outsiders, like myself, know what "definitely are going to continue to look" means in Riley's mind, it seems as if the Heat's president is adamant on keeping his current core intact.
As of right now, though, the Heat only have two natural centers under contract: the raw Joel Anthony and prospect Dexter Pittman. Neither big man are considered role-player material, let alone starter caliber.
Nonetheless, the Heat will most likely decide to let one of the aforementioned centers start in the middle, and allow power forward Chris Bosh to slide to the position for a considerable amount of his playing time.
The lanky Bosh can play center, but what will the team decide to do when they match up against the likes of Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard? Obviously, Bosh can't contain these two behemoths.
Simply put, I don't believe the Heat will just be passive and not jump hard at any opportunity to sign a true starting center.
While Milicic's poor career has labeled him a bust, as he never developed into a star after being drafted second overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft, the legit seven-footer could still be a valuable commodity for the elite Miami Heat.
Not only is he capable of being a serviceable starting center due to his solid size and refined post game, but he is a competent rebounder and shot-blocking threat.
Two seasons ago, the 27-year-old Yugoslavian averaged nearly nine points, five boards and two blocks. When given minutes, Milicic has proven that he is still able to contribute valuable production, and, in a league where there is so little center talent, that is all a franchise can ask for.
A few years ago, Andray Blatche was one of the most highly-touted young power forwards in the Association. As a 23-year-old prospect, the big man averaged nearly 17 points and eight rebounds per contest.
Fast-forward two years, Andray Blatche is unemployed, as he was just amnestied by the Wizards.
Additionally, according to the Washington Post, Blatche has received very little interest from NBA franchises.
However, according to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Miami Heat have had exploratory talks with the agent of the power forward, who has been training in South Beach this offseason.
It is not the talent that has NBA teams reluctant to dip their feet in the proverbial Blatche pool, it is his oft-questioned head on his shoulders.
Miami may be interested in improving their big-man depth by righting the Blatche ship, much like the Denver Nuggets proceeded to do last season with JaVale McGee, but don't expect anything to come to fruition.
The team already possesses Rashard Lewis to back-up Chris Bosh at the power forward slot, and I doubt Blatche is interested in riding the pine.
"If we learned one thing from the 2006 title, it was that you need to continue to reinvent yourself and improve as a basketball team," Spoelstra said. "That year we brought the exact the same team back, we thought it would be the same path and same journey. It never is."
While I agree the Heat needed a few new solid role players, as their bench was rather weak last season, the game plan should stay the same.
Letting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade orchestrate the offense with Chris Bosh patrolling the post has worked for two straight seasons now.
Now, the team has added even more sharpshooters, as Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen join forces with James Jones, Mike Miller and Shane Battier to make a solid swingmen bench unit, that the "Big Three" could kick the ball out to after penetrating the lane.
Simply put, the Heat have a winning combination that doesn't need any overhauls.