Miami Heat: Should Heat Make Last-Minute Push for Jermaine O'Neal?
With the NBA trade deadline falling in fewer than three hours, it's safe to say every organization is reviewing a deal to improve their team. While teams like the Atlanta Hawks and the Houston Rockets have been busy, the defending champion Miami Heat have been everything but.
Their group is extremely solid, with each and every player aware of their role and of what is expected, night in and night out. However, could the Heat make a move to acquire Phoenix's Jermaine O'Neal?
According to a tweet by ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, the Suns must make room on the roster for the newly-acquired Marcus Morris. The reunion with his twin brother, Markieff Morris, has Phoenix fans excited, yet a place must be made in the rotation for the forward.
O'Neal has had a solid season for the Suns, averaging 7.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 16.9 minutes. He has been on an absolute tear despite being 34 years old, with three straight double-digit rebounding games. For the month of February, the veteran is putting up 11.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 22.6 minutes a night.
After a disastrous January that involved 3.6 points per game on 29.4 percent shooting, O'Neal has seemingly flipped the switch and discovered the fountain of youth. While his excellent play as of late puts an asterisk next to his value, O'Neal's place in the rotation remains questionable as Phoenix receives another frontcourt player.
The Suns are committed to becoming a youthful, athletic team that O'Neal doesn't exactly fit with. The Heat are scarce in terms of intriguing prospects, however, but their plethora of expiring deals are somewhat enticing.
Suns have to make roster move to make room for Morris deal. Teams have been expecting a Jermaine O'Neal buyout/release if not traded.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) February 21, 2013
Phoenix has the fourth-lowest payroll in the league, with about $60 million committed to salaries. O'Neal's veteran's minimum deal hardly breaks the bank, but it remains a contract that pushes them above the salary cap limit.
For Miami, with the third-highest payroll, they have an expiring contract in James Jones. He's only participated in 19 games this season, getting an average of 4.3 minutes of action. Jones is a Florida native; however, his role with the team is almost negligible in terms of their overall success.
Jones' $1.5 million deal has a player option for next season, for the very same amount. Flipping him to Phoenix works seamlessly financially, as the Heat are somewhat restricted when it comes to trading, since they're over the cap.
As aforementioned, O'Neal has been a serviceable player for the Suns this season. To move him for Jones seems one-sided, yet works for the organization on a financial level. It also gives Phoenix a long-range threat which they are sorely lacking, considering they rank 29th in three-point field-goal percentage as a team.
The Suns will ultimately have to waive a player to make room for Morris. Their roster currently sits at 15 players, which is the league maximum. Phoenix could very well sit idly by, receive Morris and waive a reserve such as Luke Zeller. However, trading away O'Neal seems to be their intention, thus why not for a long-range threat in Jones that helps the team?
Would Jermaine O'Neal help the Heat?
O'Neal would be a monumental help in the paint for Miami, as he is an established veteran rebounder and shot-blocker. The Heat may need to sweeten the deal slightly, but it would be a perfect move for them at the deadline.
Miami does not need to make a huge change to their roster, but substituting the little-used Jones with a complimentary big man in O'Neal would be phenomenal. He's shown clear signs that his skills have not diminished, and would be a welcome addition to the rotation.
While someone's minutes would take a hit, most likely a combination of Joel Anthony and Mario Chalmers, it would be worth it to include O'Neal in the Heat's frontcourt.
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