This summer, the Miami Heat appears to have limited room to work with when it comes to free agency. For Miami, 2014’s offseason will be much more active than 2013.
However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t in-house work to do for the Heat’s front office once the postseason comes to a conclusion.
The number of players Miami can’t afford to lose is small, but all three of these individuals have been significant contributors on the court and key ingredients to the organization's success.
In years’ past, it was a common sight for Miami Heat fans to see Mario Chalmers taking verbal beatings from his older and more experienced teammates.
LeBron James seemed to be responsible for most of these tangents, constantly getting all over for Chalmers for various reasons. If the two were on the court together, chances are James would be seen standing over Chalmers, firmly lecturing him like an older brother at some point or another.
Aside from the public displays of criticism on the court by his teammates, Chalmers was also mired by clear inconsistencies in his game. Whether it was his streaky shooting, overzealous defense, or his ill-advised passes, Chalmers was always finding ways to put himself in the doghouse.
However, there were still random glimmers of hope from the former Kansas Jayhawk. For instance, it’s well known that Chalmers isn’t afraid of big moments.
And he’s shown that he has reason to be confident, dating back to his famous game-tying three against Derrick Rose and the Memphis Tigers in the 2008 NCAA National Championship.
As Chalmers has learned to harness his at times overwhelming brass, he’s quickly morphed into not only a key contributor to this Miami Heat team, but also a well-rounded point guard that will be highly-sought after when the time comes for him to test the waters as a free agent.
That time won’t necessarily be this year, as Miami does have the ability to exercise a team option on Chalmers and keep its starting point guard around for at least one more season.
The move certainly appears to be a no-brainer for the Miami Heat, as Chalmers is likely the best available option and has proved to fit in nicely with the organization's philosophies and playing style.
Second year point guard Norris Cole has showed promise in his first two years in the league, but still has a ways to go before he rounds out his game the way Chalmers has.
When Miami acquired the talents of Ray Allen last summer, the organization likely thought adding the best three-point shooter of all time would bolster its already lethal “small ball” style of offense.
For a while, however, Allen faced his share of growing pains, as he transitioned into the organization and searched for his place among the Miami Heat’s chemistry.
But it wasn’t all that long before Allen started doing exactly what the Miami Heat had hoped he would, which was hitting open shots from long range and opening up the floor for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Allen led Miami from beyond the arch, knocking down 139 shots from three-point land at just over 41 percent. Only Shane Battier had a better percentage from distance than Allen, hitting 43 percent of his shots.
And it seems as though Allen is finally completely comfortable in his role with Miami, as the Heat steamrolled through the second half of the regular season and now look to take home a second-straight championship.
Along with his shooting range, Allen also brings intangibles to the table for Miami, including a championship pedigree and a strong sense of leadership.
It will ultimately be up to Allen if he would like to return for a second year in South Beach, as he holds a player option for next season.
Miami would of course prefer to have Allen back in a Heat uniform next year, if only for the fact the veteran is a huge asset to the Heat’s depth. Having the all-time leader in three-pointers coming off the bench is a luxury that any contender would love to have.
Out of the three players discussed in this article, who is the most valuable to the Heat?
Miami signed Chris Andersen to a 10-day contract back in January in hopes that the “Birdman” would help ease the Heat’s struggles on the boards.
As it turned out, Andersen has proved to be a tremendously successful investment for the Miami Heat.
Since signing the center, who was amnestied by the Denver Nuggets last offseason, the Miami Heat has powered its way to a more than impressive 43-4 record.
Sure, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James (especially James) have been big reasons as to why Miami currently stands where it does, but it’s not a mere coincidence that Miami has seen the success it has since bringing Andersen on board.
The 6’10’’ forward-center brings energy and a facet of toughness to this Miami team that has been arguably absent at times throughout the big three era.
And with his gritty, tireless play off the bench, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has been given the luxury of lessening some of the pressure on his superstars.
Andersen is the only unrestricted free agent in this group, and it has come to be well known that he would in fact like to remain in Miami next season. He's quickly become a fan favorite in South Florida and appears to thoroughly enjoy playing alongside the Heat's big three.
Miami is strapped financially and certain moves may be difficult for the organization to execute this offseason, especially with the looming possibility of having to woo LeBron James yet again next summer.
However, it would be shocking if Micky Arison and Pat Riley didn’t make resigning Andersen a top priority of theirs this offseason. Numbers don’t lie and the numbers suggest Miami is nearly unstoppable with the Birdman, making him a must-sign this summer.