After winning the NBA title last season, it was expected that the Miami Heat would have a lackadaisical approach this year. It's been no secret that this team has struggled defensively, and that stems directly from a lack of effort.
Heat president Pat Riley and the internal management have already made decisions regarding the interior play of the team, waiving guard Terrel Harris and forward/center Josh Harrellson to make room for veteran shot-blocker Chris Andersen and forward Jarvis Varnado.
While this addresses their most direct and crucial issue this season, the Heat are experiencing a plethora of inconsistency from the point-guard spot. Whether it be Mario Chalmers' often infuriating poor decision-making or Norris Cole's sophomore struggles, Miami needs solid production from this segment of the roster.
Chalmers started this season off well, registering two double-digit assist games within the Heat's first four contests. However, his play overall thus far has been poor. His seven points and 3.5 assists per game are exactly what the team needs, yet Chalmers' shooting percentages of 39.7 and 35.3 from the field and from three-point range are sub-par. While they are right alongside his career averages, he is in his fifth professional season. To put that into perspective, Chalmers shot the ball better as a rookie than he currently does.
Whether it comes from a lack of effort, the adjustment of Ray Allen's arrival or a hangover from having a championship ring, Chalmers needs to improve his production or he may very well see his way out of Miami. The Heat cannot continue into the playoffs with a question mark for his play, wondering if Super Mario will step onto the floor or his nemesis, Wario. His defense is mostly consistent, but his decision-making and shooting can lead some to wonder whether or not Chalmers could be replaced.
Should the Heat trade Chalmers?
Miami trades Mario Chalmers to Chicago for Kirk Hinrich:
Chalmers' and Hinrich's salaries are almost equal, so there is no need for the addition of other players to balance contracts.
The Chicago Bulls might be hard-pressed to let one of their longest tenured players go, yet they already did on one occasion back in 2010. They sent Hinrich to Washington for the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko, who has yet to play in the NBA. In this scenario, they would receive some insurance should Derrick Rose's injury flare up again.
Hinrich is a veteran point-guard, but Chalmers' upside being a younger player could convince Chicago to swap the two. Chalmers is also better suited to the Bulls style of play,offensively and defensively, and would be reminiscent of C.J Watson's time there.
The Heat would receive Hinrich, who has been a solid defensive presence at either guard position for the better part of his career. At age 32, he still has the ability to play solid cover and has a good outside stroke. He stands 6'4" and has a larger frame than Chalmers, thereby allowing him to seamlessly fit into the Heat's rotation-based defensive system.
Miami trades Mario Chalmers to Houston for Toney Douglas:
It's difficult to say who would benefit with this scenario, but it gives either team a different dynamic at point-guard. Chalmers' $4 million deal is twice that of Douglas' $2.06 million contract, which would play a role considering the latter is an expiring one.
Houston would benefit defensively from this trade, as Chalmers' ability to strip the ball from opponents handling it or the passing lanes would assist in their fast-break offense. Douglas is a better scorer than Chalmers, yet the Houston Rockets could use a two-way player at point-guard. Chalmers has played alongside Dwyane Wade for his entire career, and would be able to adjust alongside dominant ball-handlers Jeremy Lin and James Harden.
For Miami, Douglas would give them a sixth man type of scoring off the bench. Apart from the Big Three and perhaps Ray Allen, none of the Heat players can create their own shot. He is also a remarkable free-throw shooter, converting 90 percent this season. According to 82games.com, 71 percent of Douglas' jump shots have come off assists, which would allow him to seamlessly fit into the Heat offense. He is, however, a below average individual defender. Fortunately, the Heat defense constantly rotates and would be able to pick up his man should Douglas be unable to.
Those are just two of a large amount of deals the Heat could pursue for Chalmers. It should be noted that he is an excellent fit for the Heat's offense and defense. If he can return to his usual level of play covering opposing guards, disrupting passing lanes and knocking down open three-point attempts, there is no reason why Chalmers could not stay. Yet as aforementioned, if he cannot return to his roots, he may be on his way out of Miami.