Miami Heat's Free Agency Wish List
No matter how the Heat's postseason plays out, one thing is for sure, and that is that they won't be a very active team during free agency.
They have $85.6 million in salaries during the 2013-14 season, including Ray Allen's player option of $3.2 million, and that doesn't give them much room to work with in the offseason.
Even if James Jones ($1.5 million) and Allen ($3.2 million) opt out of their contracts, the Heat still have $80.9 million in guaranteed salaries next season and that is about $10 million over the salary cap.
For a full breakdown of the Heat's salary cap woes check out this piece, which has the Heat scheduled to pay $34 million in taxes next season, on the International Business Times.
While every NBA team would love to go after guys like Josh Smith, David West, Brandon Jennings and other top-tier free agents, there's no way the Heat are going to even think about them for a second. They just don't have any cap space to play with.
The Heat won't even be able to make any significant moves like they did last season when they signed Allen, unless players want to restructure their contracts.
The good news though is that the Heat are built to win without adding more talent than they currently have. That doesn't mean they won't look to make some moves to bolster their already stellar lineup.
Honestly, the most important free agent on their wish list, though, is someone who's currently doing his thing in the Heat's playoff rotation, and that player is Chris Andersen.
Chris Andersen, C, Miami Heat
The birdman is the Heat's emotional spark coming off the bench, and he's pretty darn good at defending the interior and crashing the offensive boards too.
Andersen is averaging 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the first three games of the Heat's playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks. And he's putting up that production in just 14 minutes per game.
With Udonis Haslem only getting older and his production decreasing, the Heat need a new player who brings the intensity and excitement to the floor. That man is Chris Andersen.
The good news is that he's reportedly interested in re-signing with the Heat this offseason—according to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida.
The bad news is that Andersen could be looking for the mid-level exception, which is set at about $3.2 million. That's a lot of dough for the Birdman, but he at least brings the intensity and production to the floor night in and night out.
Louis Amundson, PF, New Orleans Hornets
Next up on the Heat's free agency wish list is the bruiser known as Louis Amundson.
In a lot of ways, Amundson is just a less flashy and much less exciting version of Chris Andersen.
The one problem with Amundson is that at 6'9'' and 225 pounds, he's a bit undersized, even though he plays like he's the biggest and strongest center in the game.
This past season he averaged just 1.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. A lot of his lack of production is due to hopping around teams in the NBA last year.
Amundson would be less expensive than Andersen, but he would also be more of a risk. The Heat need to weigh out the respective value of each player and see if taking a cheap risk on Amundson is worth the potential loss of production.
J.J. Hickson, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
This one is somewhat of a long shot, but there's got to be at least one of those in this article.
The Heat would've been wise to jump all over J.J. Hickson last year after his atrocious season that saw him average just 4.7 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in his time with the Sacramento Kings.
Instead, Hickson signed with the Portland Trail Blazers and averaged a double-double during the regular season with 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.
He made just $4 million this past season, and if the Heat can magically reel him in for that price they'd be in a great place. The problem is that his value has grown, which means the Heat's best chances of signing him rely on their ability to see value in a potential championship more than money.
Who Should the Miami Heat Pursue this offseason?
While I don't see that happening, it's worth a shot. Hickson is a young, athletic and exciting player who would benefit from being around guys like LeBron—who he was with in Cleveland for two years—Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
If the Heat don't manage to make a move to bolster their frontcourt this offseason, I expect them to do what they did this year and wait until the season is under way to sign a veteran again.
The most realistic scenario for the Heat is a re-signing of Chris Andersen. The most exciting possibility is the Heat somehow shedding some cap space and reeling in J.J. Hickson.
If either of those scenarios happen, the Heat will be in a great spot to either turn a repeat into a three-peat, or to find their championship ways once again.
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