Due to the hefty contracts of their core players—LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh—the Miami Heat had little money to spend this offseason in order to bolster their roster, which was already the NBA's best.
However, thanks to Pat Riley's unmatched ability to convince great NBA talent to take fewer dollars than they are worth, the Heat will head into the 2012-13 season with the best roster in franchise history.
Let's review the team's major signings, its draft as well as who the Heat didn't resign from last season's championship team, and from that, assign them a final offseason grade.
Ray Allen Signing
The most notable signing, and the one that will have the biggest impact on the team, is that of Ray Allen, the NBA's greatest three-point shooter of all time—for only $3 million annually.
Given how often Wade and James create wide-open threes for shooters, it's obviously great for the Heat to have someone who can consistently knock them down. And while 37-year-old Allen is nearing the end of his career, it's not as if advanced age has impacted his jump shot. He shot 45.3 percent and 44.3 percent from behind the arc in the past two seasons, respectively.
Allen will come off the bench as the team's sixth man. He will make a Heat offense that finished seventh in points per game last year much more dangerous while also providing above-average defense.
The only concern about Allen relates to his health. He has stated he's not 100 percent healthy and that his ankle will be a problem all season long. Still, he won't be playing heavy minutes. Also, if he were to miss time due to injury, it's not as if the Heat need him to win.
Allen is, albeit a significant one, a luxury. Factor in the low cost, and it's clear this was a fantastic signing for Miami.
Rashard Lewis Signing
The team's second biggest signing, for a measly $1.3 million annually, was that of Rashard Lewis, who played for the Washington Wizards in 2011-12.
While it was a very smart signing due to its low-risk, high-reward nature, Lewis played terribly last year. Despite being a career 38.8 percent three-point shooter, Lewis converted only 23.9 percent of his attempts behind the arc last year.
And the rest of his numbers were far from pretty as well.
He finished with per game averages of 7.8 points (16.1 career average), 3.9 rebounds (5.6 career average) and one assist (1.8 career average), as well as a 9.37 player efficiency rating (league average is 15.00).
But from everything he's said since signing with Miami, Lewis seems like a completely different player motivation-wise than he was last season. (And considering he's going from the lowly Wizards to the championship-favorite Heat, why wouldn't he be?)
Lewis will be one of the first guys off the bench for the Heat. His size (6'10") and versatility will allow the Heat to experiment with some almost unstoppable lineups offensively, such as one consisting of Wade, Allen, Lewis, James and Bosh.
Like Allen, Lewis will see plenty of open three-pointers. He's actually joked that he's been too open in the preseason.
He's on an excellent team and has something to prove after last season's debacle. All signs point to Lewis having a bounce-back year.
Josh Harrellson Signing
Many were hoping the Heat would sign an established true center. However, given the money that they could spend, there weren't many options other than Marcus Camby, but the Ray Allen signing put an end to the possibility of him signing with Miami.
The Heat did quietly sign Josh Harrellson in September, and it seems likely he'll make the roster. If Harrellson does make the team, he would have a small role, but he can rebound (12.48 per 48 minutes in 2011-12) and shoot the three-pointer (33.9 percent in 2011-12).
With that said, he would represent a nice option to spell Bosh at the five.
Draft and Players Lost From 2011-12
As can be expected with a championship-winning team, Miami's draft back in June featured little excitement.
The Heat traded their 27th overall pick for the 45th overall pick (where they selected Justin Hamilton, who will be playing in Europe this year) and a future first-round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat were clearly thinking long term over short term with this move.
Speaking of little excitement, the three most notable players not returning from last year's team, Ronny Turiaf, Juwan Howard and Eddy Curry weren't, dare I say, big contributors during the championship run. The Heat aren't losing much at all with the absence of those three.
Final Grade: A
The Heat had very little to work with financially this offseason and will emerge with the greatest three-point shooter in NBA history and with a motivated Rashard Lewis. They didn't sign a big-name center, but with Bosh fully embracing playing the five, it wasn't a necessity.
Considering all of that, and that they lost almost nothing of significant value from last year's team, the Heat's offseason has to be considered a great success.