The Miami Heat are poised to repeat as champions, and championship teams typically don't drastically alter their rosters in the midst of championship runs.
The fact that all rotation players except for Chris "Birdman" Andersen and Ray Allen are signed to guaranteed contracts for next season makes it a near certainty that the Heat roster will look much the same when the 2013-14 season tips off in late October.
We'll examine three classes of players: returning players, those on player options and the five unrestricted free agents. The Heat still have yet to exercise their amnesty clause as well, so consideration must be given as to whether they will exercise this option.
Who Are the Miami Heat's 2013-14 Guaranteed Contracts?
The Big Three all have player options on their contracts, but those options don't start until the summer of 2014. The Heat are guaranteed one last run with their Big Three intact. The new stipulations set forth by the luxury tax dictate that the Heat will likely need to allow one of their max contracts to walk.
All that said, Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are pretty much locks to return, regardless of the outcome of the 2013 playoffs.
Others with guaranteed contracts include Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis and Norris Cole.
Cole is on a team option in 2014-15, but it is for just $2.15 million. He's a key fixture in the Heat's future, as he's displayed the defensive intensity and leadership skills to be an effective point guard. The same applies to Mario Chalmers, and perhaps even more so given his clutch performances and ability to knock down open shots. The Heat, despite it being their weakest spot in the starting five, are doing OK at point guard.
Should the Heat Amnesty Mike Miller?
The real issue here will be whether or not Pat Riley chooses to amnesty Mike Miller. Miller has battled injuries and just disappointed in general since joining the Heat. He's owed $6.2 million next season, and he's not even performing at a league-average standard. Miller's player efficiency rating of 12.6 is about 2.5 too low to warrant a $6-plus million contract.
Ideally, a guy who is averaging 4.3 points per game on 42 percent shooting makes the league minimum. Miller is 32 years of age and clearly has been declining as a player since the 2009-10 season when he started 50 games as a member of the Washington Wizards, averaging some 33 minutes a night. This year, he sees a meager 14 per game. Amnestying Miller seems to be a no-brainer.
Will James Jones and Ray Allen Exercise Player Options?
Ray Allen is on a player option for $3.22 million. He'll likely exercise this option, and Allen still has a lot to offer as a player, so the Heat won't mind his desire to continue playing. Allen is seeing a career-low 25.8 minutes per game, but he's still knocking down his jumpers. Allen's 45.1 percent field-goal percentage is right at his career average (45.2 percent), and he's hitting 41.9 percent from behind the arc.
He's never shot under 42 percent from three in his career, and the gift to knock down open jumpers should persist as long as Allen wants to play. Reggie Miller's jumper never left him either, and provided Allen can at least play passable defense, LBJ and Wade will cover a lot of his blunders on the perimeter. Besides, let's face it, if Jason Kidd can persist in the league given the defense he's played the last few seasons, Allen shouldn't have much of a problem at all.
James Jones will likely exercise his option too, but mostly because he won't have any offers that will best the $1.5 million he can make by exercising his option. Jones has played just 183 minutes all season, appearing in 34 games for an average of five minutes a game. Every NBA team needs to fill out its roster, and having a sharpshooter like Jones is as useful as any other 12th man.
Jones shot 40-plus percent from distance three seasons straight prior to this year's 31.1 percent. Rediscovering his stroke may earn him some minutes, but his inability to do much more than knock down open threes limits any chance Jones has of being more than a fringe rotation player on a championship team.
Will the Heat Re-sign Any of Their 5 Unrestricted Free Agents?
Chris Andersen, Juwan Howard, Josh Harrellson, Terrel Harris and Jarvis Varnado are all free agents.
Re-signing Andersen seems to be imperative given the Heat's lack of interior defenders. Andersen isn't quite the shot-blocking presence he was in his prime, but even at 34 years of age, Andersen is still a 6'10" center, and that gives him a definite value in the NBA. He's still blocking 2.3 shots per 36, and he also averages 11.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per 36.
That's a per-minute level of production that rivals the best starters, and his PER of 16.0 dictates he may be in for a decent contract, age notwithstanding. Andersen is making just under $700,000 this season, and the Heat may have trouble offering Andersen his market value.
Juwan Howard is just a stop-gap veteran to help the Heat win another title. At 40 years of age, he doesn't have much of anything left in the tank. But his high basketball IQ and ability to mentor younger players gives Howard the chance to persist in the league as long as he can reasonably run the court and put his hands above his head to grab rebounds.
In other words, if he wants to return at the league minimum, the Heat will likely go ahead and let him. Again, for a 12th man on a contending team, Pat Riley could do a lot worse than to sign a guy with Howard's experience.
Josh Harrellson, Terrel Harris and Jarvis Varnado are all under contract, but Harrellson and Harris have already been cut.
They combined to play in a total of only 19 games and see 81 minutes in the 2012-13 season. Irrelevant.
Where Does This Leave the Heat in the 2013 Offseason?
The most interesting plots of the offseason for Pat Riley and the Heat will be making decisions on Mike Miller and Chris Andersen. The amnesty should be used on Miller, but that's not a certainty, just likely.
Riley will seek to re-sign Birdman, but his market value is much higher than what the Heat can offer. A championship ring forgives a lack of salary, though, and once Andersen gets a taste of championship champagne (hopefully not in Chris Bosh style), it's quite possible he doesn't mind another season at the veteran minimum.
The Heat are a team in the midst of what could be a multiple title run, and as stated, big changes are unlikely. The roster will look much the same next year, with the shakeups all occurring at the bottom of the roster and involving guys who aren't even rotation players.
Salaries sourced from Hoopshype
Advanced stats sourced from Basketball-Reference.com
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