Affordable Trade Targets to Boost Chances of Miami Heat Title Repeat
For a team that has made it to consecutive NBA Finals, and currently on a good enough run to lead you to believe they'll soon make a third, the Miami Heat have continued to find a way to receive attention when the trade deadline rolls around near the end of February.
The Heat have made moves this year and the two seasons before, yes, but it wasn't at the expense of anything other than the waiving of a 14th or 15th men. For instance, this season the Heat waived Terrel Harris and Josh Harrellson in order to acquire the services of shot-blockers in Jarvis Varnado and Chris Andersen.
Erick Dampier and Mike Bibby joined the team midseason in 2011, while Ronny Turiaf made his debut with last year's championship team in late March. Bibby ended up becoming the Heat's inefficient starting point guard in the 2011 NBA Finals, Turiaf became a casualty of small-ball, and Dampier didn't record a single minute once the playoffs started.
At the end of the day, the Heat only ended up using their midseason pickups for the long haul of the regular season. It's going to be no different in Chris Andersen's case as he too will become a seldom-used interior presence that won't fit in with Miami's small playoff lineup. He'll see some time if the Indiana Pacers are on the docket, but it would be surprising to see him appear in any other series.
As far as a trade goes, it's unlikely the Heat will make a move. They're on top of the East by four games, riding a seven-game winning streak into All-Star weekend, witnessing the best stretch of LeBron's career and coming off a blowout win in what may have been a potential Finals matchup against Oklahoma City.
The only argument for a Heat trade would be in favor of an investment. Although the Heat are in win-now mode, they have a number of key pieces on the wrong end of 30, including 37-year-old Ray Allen, 34-year-old Shane Battier, and the 32-year-old Udonis Haslem. As incredible as LeBron Jams may seem on this recent stretch, he will need help around him at some point in the future.
Outside of James and Chris Bosh, Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers are the only players under the age of 30 worth investing in. My apologies to Dexter Pittman and Jarvis Varnado, who have played in a combined eight games this year.
Trade commodities are thin on this Heat team, too. Mike Miller (owed $12 million over next two years) and Joel Anthony (owed $8 million over next two years) both have contracts that are hard to swallow, James Jones was talking about retirement after the Heat's championship win, and Cole is one of the few young players on this team who can provide in the future.
Miami possesses a first-round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers, but it will only be useful if the Sixers make the postseason, something that doesn't seem to be happening this year.
They're stacked with wings and have received solid play from their up-and-down point guard tandem, leaving the lone chink in the chain under the boards. However, even that is overstated with the Heat having the league's top field-goal percentage, which limits their offensive rebounds, and averaging a rebounding deficit of only two against their opponents.
If Miami does look into a trade, however, it could give these five players an inquiry.
While his contract may be coming to an end following the conclusion of the season, DeJuan Blair may find himself out of San Antonio before then, possibly even by the end of the week.
The 2009 second-round pick of the Spurs had carved out a niche in his first three years with the team but has since seen his minutes drop off to a career-low 14 per game. A rise in the minutes of forward Kawhi Leonard and center Tiago Splitter have led to Blair's inability to get significant minutes off the bench, enabling him to average only 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per.
With the Spurs rotation running as far as 13 deep, Blair has seemingly become victim of his team's championship caliber depth.
It's not a surprise the Heat have inquired interest into the undersized power forward. Even though he's playing small at a big position and has played without ACLs throughout his NBA career, Blair has proven to be effective when it comes to cleaning up the glass.
He has averaged as much as seven boards per, coming in his second season, and actually led the league in offensive rebounding percentage that same year.
With the Heat looking for someone who can replace the 32-year-old Udonis Haslem, garnering a career-low 19 minutes per game and averaging 3.7 points in his short floor time, the 23-year-old Blair would give the Heat a body down low that could fight for boards and get easy points near the rim.
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The Denver Nuggets are set to pay Timofey Mozgov $3 million this season, and that is money they would probably have rather sent elsewhere.
While the Nuggets don't find trouble in giving minutes to fellow seven-footers Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee, Mozgov has found himself as a seldom-used third option. Averaging only ten minutes of playing time per contest, Mozgov has appeared in 31 of the Nuggets' 54 games and has found severe fluctuation in the amount of minutes he receives.
On January 28th, Mozgov played a healthy 25 minutes against the Indiana Pacers but just recently played only 28 seconds against the Brooklyn Nets this past Wednesday. Koufos and McGee have emerged as primary rotation players in George Karl's frontcourt, while Mozgov has regressed after garnering 15.6 minutes last season.
Having the athletic Kenneth Faried on the floor has also contributed to making Mozgov's role on the Nuggets obsolete, with the team having enough rebounders in guys like Faried and newcomer Andre Iguodala, as well as shot-blockers in McGee and Koufos.
The Heat have expressed interest in Mozgov, but that came before the acquisition of the 6'11" Chris Andersen, who has done a fair job at presenting Miami with size that can hit the boards. However, the "Birdman" will most likely be with the Heat on a short-term basis as they only signed the 34-year-old for the rest of the year after signing two 10-day contracts.
the Heat certainly wouldn't mind employing a youthful center (7'1" and 26 years old) that can provide length for the future.
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It was widely speculated that the Miami Heat would end up with Samuel Dalembert in the summer of 2011 during his free-agency period.
Instead, Dalembert ran off and took a contract from the Houston Rockets that gave him $7 million per season. The Miami Heat, meanwhile, signed Shane Battier for $3 million per year and ended up winning a championship. Dalembert was off the Rockets shortly after the Heat won their title, getting sent to the Milwaukee Bucks in one of the first deals of the 2012 offseason.
Needless to say, the Rockets didn't believe that 7.5 points, 7 boards and 1.7 blocks per was worth the money.
While Dalembert recently made headlines with an astounding performance in the form of 35 points on 17-of-21 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds, he had been resoundingly disappointing the first three months of the 2012-'13 campaign. In fact, it wasn't until January 29th against the Detroit Pistons that he recorded at least 10 rebounds this season.
Recently, however, Dalembert has received an influx of minutes and has played at least 26 minutes in four of the past five games, averaging 16.4 points and 11.2 boards per. After failing to record at least 10 rebounds in his first 22 games of the season, he has six double-digit rebounding performances in his past nine contests.
Dalembert has given the Bucks good minutes in his recent starts—he was hardly efficient as the starter before he lost his job at the end of November—but is competing for minutes with several other Bucks players. Samuel is at a disadvantage considering five of his forward and center teammates are 26-years-old or younger.
Larry Sanders, 24, the league's current leading shot-blocker, has played huge this season garnering 8.5 points, 8.5 boards and 3.2 blocks per—all career highs.
Dalembert leads the Bucks with 20 DNPs. He will make $6.7 million this season and will become a free agent shortly after. Perhaps Dalembert, who turns 32 in May, will think of winning before money this time around.
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It has not been an eventful start for the Ed Davis era with the Memphis Grizzlies.
After being a consistent starter with the Toronto Raptors, Davis now finds himself barely receiving minutes amongst a plethora of Grizzlies bigs. Since playing his first game February 1 and receiving five minutes of playing time against Washington, Davis has received at least 10 minutes of playing time once in six games with the Grizzlies.
That outing came against the Minnesota Timberwolves, where Davis received 11 minutes and contributed four points on three shots.
Although the only prominent bigs on this team are Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Darrell Arthur, Davis has ended up receiving fewer minutes than the seldom-used Austin Daye, who came over in the three-team trade that also brought in Tayshaun Prince to Memphis.
Whether or not the Grizzlies are picturing Davis as a possible replacement for the 32-year-old Zach Randolph, it's coming at the expense of his on-court development.
Because before being traded, Davis was having a career season with the Raptors averaging 9.7 points on 55 percent shooting to accompany 6.7 rebounds per. He had played at least 30 minutes in his final three games and at least 36 minutes in his last two games with the Raptors, who traded him in order to acquire a scorer in Rudy Gay.
It would be far-fetched to believe the Grizzlies would end up trading Davis after trading for him a few weeks ago, but it has been a troubling few weeks in terms of Davis' role on a Grizzlies team that could employ his size and rebounding capabilities.
Davis will be raking in over $3 million next season and has a qualifying offer worth $4.3 million the following year.
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The Miami Heat really missed out on getting J.J. Hickson when he was most likely going to be at the most affordable asking price of his NBA career.
You would think LeBron James would have told them something about his former Cleveland teammate.
After three productive seasons with the Cavaliers where he averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in his final year, Hickson was sent to the Sacramento Kings in an offseason trade. Playing under DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson, while leaving the coaching of Byron Scott, was a perfect storm of disaster for the athletic 6'9" forward.
Hickson wound up averaging just 18 minutes in 35 games with the Kings, averaging an abysmal 4.7 points on 37 percent shooting and 5.1 boards per. Assuming there was nothing left in him, the Kings simply waived Hickson, leaving him to get picked up by a desperate Portland Trail Blazers team looking for size in the paint.
Bringing in $4 million this season, Hickson has certainly found himself in the running for the league's Most Improved Player award. He had a great 19 games when he joined Portland midseason last year and has carried that over to this season, averaging a double-double for the first time in his career to the tune of 12.7 points on 57 percent shooting and 10.3 boards per.
Hickson has started all 52 games for the Blazers this year, making him a tough commodity to acquire for the Heat or any team in need of an interior presence. Unless Miami somehow convinces Portland that Joel Anthony and a first-round pick are worth more than a 24-year-old with consistent double-double potential, it's unlikely this deal gets done.
It only hurts to know that Hickson was free for the taking, even if it may have been for only two days.