This offseason, the Miami Heat will face various issues to be addressed just like every other franchise.
Even if the defending champs go on to win a second straight title, it’s a safe bet that Micky Arison and Pat Riley will be proactive as they always are.
Whether it’s planning for future free agency or addressing immediate needs, there will certainly be a call for Miami to patch whatever holes there may be in its mast.
It’s no secret.
If there’s one area Miami struggles in, it’s on the boards. The Heat finished the season ranked 21st in rebounding, pulling down a little more than 41 per game.
Even with the late-season addition of Chris Andersen, it still wasn’t a rare occurrence for Miami to find itself out-rebounded on a nightly basis. They’re simply a smaller team than most, so the struggles aren’t all that surprising.
So, naturally, it would seem as though the Heat will surely look to solve its rebounding issue first, right?
Erik Spoelstra and Miami are perfectly happy with where they stand as a team, their makeup included. “Small ball” isn’t just a term in the Heat organization; it has become an identity.
This doesn’t mean Spoelstra is content with his squad taking the court each night with the assumption that they likely won’t win the battle on the boards. He still demands effort and consistency.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Spoelstra admitted he simply feels rebounding isn’t necessarily as much of a key ingredient to his team’s formula to win as it is with others throughout the league.
“There are more important factors for us,” Spoelstra said. “The story line that is very popular out there? That’s fine. I don’t really care. I know what helps us win and what really doesn’t help us win … if we force turnovers, if we win the turnover game, that’s the most important thing.”
With all of that in mind, you’d be correct if you expect Miami to solve its rebounding issue from within as opposed to contracting outside sources. In other words, the Heat will focus on other issues, most specifically its defensive rotations and offensive efficiency, in order to compensate for its obvious weakness on the boards.
After all, as Spoelstra said, Miami believes factors like creating offense by way of defense carry more importance than rebounding when it comes to their success as a team.
As the starting lineup currently stands, the only Heat player with a chance to face free agency this offseason is point guard Mario Chalmers. However, barring an unexpected change in direction, the Heat will likely exercise its option on its starting point guard in order to keep its core in tact for at least one more year.
Aside from Mario Chalmers, the other potential free agents with the most significance to the Miami Heat are Chris Andersen, Ray Allen, James Jones, and Rashard Lewis.
Andersen is an unrestricted free agent, while Allen, Jones, and Lewis all hold player options.
Andersen, who’s quickly become a fan favorite in South Florida, will undoubtedly be one of Miami’s top priorities. And according to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports, the “Birdman” would prefer to remain as a member of the Miami Heat.
“We’re certainly hopeful,’’ Bryant told FOX Sports Florida about Andersen re-signing with the Heat. “But he’s going to finish this task first (of trying to win a title with Miami). But, absolutely, he has embraced (being with the Heat).’’
The Heat’s re-signing of Andersen will be contingent on a few factors, most notably money. If Andersen is content with settling for the minimum once again and playing for a championship, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on the Heat’s roster next season.
Aside from acquiring Andersen for an additional year or two, however, it would be somewhat surprising if the Heat have an active offseason on the free agency front, especially if Allen, Jones, and Lewis all opt to remain on board.
In a league like the NBA where free agency and the offseason can be just as drama-filled as the action of the regular season, it’s never too early to look towards the offseason.
And in this case, apparently, it’s never too early to be looking onto not only this offseason, but next offseason as well.
And at this point, James is expected by most to do just that. Wade and Bosh may likely follow suit.
This doesn’t necessarily point to one or two of the stars bolting elsewhere, although all attention will be on James once again as he goes through the process of free agency.
If Miami wants to keep James, Micky Arison and Pat Riley will need to begin laying out the framework of the plan to do so this summer. In all likelihood, Arison and Riley have already taken preliminary steps.
However, the plan will begin to pick up speed this summer once the Heat organization has an opportunity to sit down after the playoffs conclude.
Whether it’s Riley pitching James on remaining a member of the Heat, or Arison making the financial arrangements to be able to absorb the luxury tax, the Heat will be doing everything and anything to keep its big three core in tact for a few more years.
And as difficult of a pill it may be to swallow for Heat fans, Miami's front office will surely begin drawing up a solid backup plan this summer to prepare for the worst.