Highlighting Miami Heat's Top Free Agent Target at Every Position
Because of impending luxury tax penalties due to a costly roster, the Miami Heat will be extremely limited in their approach to this summer's offseason free agency period.
With no draft picks, the Heat can either look into trading into the draft or use the limited funds they have to convince another veteran to take a paycut and ride the championship wave, as so many have done before.
Miami's salary will be at $85 million next year, with James Jones and Ray Allen holding player options that add up to somewhere near $4.7 million. Chris Andersen, Juwan Howard and Jarvis Varnado will be the only free agents this summer, before the 2014 summer that will feature potential free agents in each member of the 'Big Three', as well as certain free agents in Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier.
The Heat will have several decisions to make come 2014. But before then, they can look towards this summer as another trip on the recruiting trail to convince ringless veterans to join the fray and possibly win a title or two before retiring a few miles away on Star Island.
Affordable free agents will be difficult to come by for the Heat this summer. Unless they can package some sort of deal that would send the lucrative contracts of Mike Miller and Joel Anthony somewhere, they're going to be extremely limited in who they can potentially pursue.
The Heat will always have no state taxes and the potential to win multiple championships as selling points, but not every veteran will work for chump change. Guys like Battier and Allen, who have already made their money and convinced themselves that winning means more, only come around so often.
With needs to address at every position, especially on a bench that is older than you think, the Heat will have to go into the summer with an open mind and a wallet that's going to be even tighter than the past two seasons.
Point Guard: D.J. Augustin
Perhaps Augustin enjoyed being the bigger fish in the pond in Charlotte, because he has been woefully disappointing in his first, and possibly last, season with Indiana. Augustin averaged career lows across the board this year, including field-goal percentage, minutes, points and assists.
Augustin went from starting in 128 out of 130 games with the Bobcats the previous two seasons to starting five out of 76 games with Indiana, while playing only 16 minutes per contest. The Pacers found more reliable answers in their backcourt.
Namely, answers that weren't shooting 35 percent from the field. With shooting guard Lance Stephenson garnering extended minutes from his improved play, Augustin's shooting touch, or lack thereof, wasn't as necessary as Indiana envisioned when signing him the previous summer.
The diminutive Augustin will be an unrestricted free agent this season. Although he may bear a resemblance to Norris Cole, the Miami Heat's current quick-footed point guard, Augustin would aid the Heat with another shooter to help stretch the floor.
Plus, if Cole continues to show out this postseason, Miami may have to think long and hard about paying Mario Chalmers. Augustin could come at a cheap price because of how far he's fallen off the map this season.
Per SynergySports, Augustin was a 37 percent spot-up shooter from deep this past season and was an even more impressive 54 percent in the same area on transition opportunities, plays the Heat happen to find themselves in for 13 percent of their total offensive usage.
On the defensive end is where Miami may think to look elsewhere, however. Augustin allowed his assignment to shoot 43 percent, including a staggering 47 percent on 183 shot attempts for pick-and-roll ball-handlers, per Synergy.
Other options: Beno Udrih, A.J. Price, Jannero Pargo, Keyon Dooling
Shooting Guard: Randy Foye
Among the league's most underrated shooters, Randy Foye of the Utah Jazz recently put together one of the better shooting seasons of any player this past season.
On over five three-point attempts per game, Foye converted over two three-pointers on a daily basis at a 41 percent clip, mere percentage points off his previous high. He actually managed to have a higher three-point percentage than overall shooting percentage, which was a shade under 40 percent for the third consecutive season.
With Miami being a team that spaces the floor, Foye would become one of the prime recipients of the numerous wide-open threes that Heat shooters receive on a nightly basis. According to Synergy, Foye was a 41 percent shooter from deep on spot-up opportunities, a play that was relied on by Miami's offense over 25 percent of the time.
On 70 three-point attempts in transition, Foye was a 50 percent shooter from deep, according to Synergy.
Being with the Heat would bear a resemblance to the time he spent with Utah. Like the Heat, the Jazz also use their ability to get near the rim for easy scores to open up the floor for their shooters.
With the likes of Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors dominating the paint, Foye was able to thrive off of spot-up opportunities and getting open. It was the second time in his seven-year career that Foye was able to convert better than 40 percent of his three-pointers, the first occasion with Minnesota in his second season.
Defense was a bit of an issue for Foye, who allowed his assignment to shoot 43 percent from the field but only 31 percent from beyond the arc. He ranked 123rd when defending the pick-and-roll ball-handler, which is a necessity for Heat point guards to know how to defend well, and allowed his opponent to shoot 44 percent on those opportunities, per Synergy.
After only collecting $2.5 million this season, Foye could come at a cheap price for a Heat team always looking for some spacing help.
Other options: Ben Gordon, Wayne Ellington, Royal Ivey
Small Forward: Kyle Korver
It's doubtful that Kyle Korver will sign with the Heat because of the price he'll most likely generate, but we've seen crazier things happen.
You know, such as three superstars each giving up max deals so they could play on the same team? Or Shane Battier possibly becoming one of the most cost-efficient players in the NBA at only $3 million per year?
Korver is making $5 million this season with the Atlanta Hawks. He could have become a member of the Heat in the summer of 2010, but Miami chose instead to go with the sharpshooter with more intangibles in Mike Miller, who would never have his potential with the Heat fulfilled outside of one fateful Game 5 in the NBA Finals.
Are you ready for some of the absurd stats Korver has had over the past few seasons? First off, he has shot at least 41 percent from beyond the arc the past four seasons, including an astounding 54 percent four years ago in his final season with the Utah Jazz.
On nearly six attempts per game this season, Korver was a 46 percent shooter from deep. The nearly 11 points he averaged this season was the most he's put up since averaging 14 in 2007 while still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Per Synergy, Korver ranked fifth in the league in points per possession (1.13) and seventh in spot-up opportunities, garnering 1.34 points per possession and ranking ahead of the likes of Ray Allen and Shane Battier.
He was a 48 percent shooter from deep on spot-ups and a 42 percent shooter on transition opportunities.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is that Korver is an incredibly efficient shooter. In 74 regular season games with Atlanta this season, Korver went one game without hitting a single three-pointer, which came in the season-opener.
Before going 0-for-7 in the Hawks' final game of the season in a Game 6 loss to Indiana, Korver had hit at least one three-pointer in 78 consecutive games.
As for his defense? It's not as bad as you may think. He allowed his assignment to shoot 37 percent overall and was among the league's top defenders when defending the pick-and-roll ball-handler, ranking fifth in the league and also ninth when defending off-screens, per Synergy.
Other options: Matt Barnes, Dorell Wright, Metta World Peace
Power Forward: Lamar Odom
It has been a rough two years for Lamar Odom.
Ever since demanding a trade out of the Los Angeles Lakers organization, the result of being scorned from the Chris Paul trade that fell through, Odom has not been the same player that won Sixth Man of the Year in 2011.
A year after suffering through 50 games with the Dallas Mavericks, Odom was signed to the Los Angeles Clippers with hopes that a return home would bring back the player that helped bring the Lakers two titles in 2009 and '10.
He had his moments, but never came close to resurrecting his career. Odom would play in all 82 games with the Clippers and would even surprise with nearly six rebounds per game, 10.7 per 36 minutes, but also averaged only four points on less than 40 percent shooting and would also shoot 20 percent on 90 three-point attempts.
Perhaps a trip back to Miami, where he played for a memorable season in the 2003-'04 campaign, and a chance to win another title would generate the lost game of Odom. Miami and Odom have been in contact with each other previously of a possible return, with Lamar almost joining the Heat in 2009.
It would be tough to imagine Odom not being one of the few free agents that would be affordable to Miami's limited budget this upcoming summer. He was making $8.2 million last season with the Clippers, but will be an unrestricted free agent free to choose a new destination and create a short-term contract with a team willing to experiment for a low price.
Odom's numbers aren't going to tell the story here because they're awful, as they have been the past two seasons. The Heat signing him would only be a reassurance at the end of the bench, while holding a sliver of hope that Odom suddenly remembers what it was that made him one of the most reliable and significant multi-dimensional players in the league.
Other options: Antawn Jamison, Marreese Speights, Chris Wilcox
Center: Brandan Wright
Oh, I am completely aware that Samuel Dalembert has said that he would like to join the Miami Heat next season. The only problem is talking means a whole lot less compared to actions, and Dalembert taking a pay cut that significant seems highly unlikely.
So forget the 32-year-old Dalembert for a minute, because it's probably not going to happen once you consider that Samuel has usually gone after money during his free agency period, including two years ago when he decided to join the Houston Rockets and make $7 million per season.
Shane Battier took the $3 million per year offer, instead, and it's been history since. Meanwhile, Dalembert is unhappy being at the end of the Bucks' bench and will most likely be on his third team in three years next season.
For the first time in the Big Three era, perhaps it would be wise for the Heat organization to take a look at younger, more athletic options. Miami has signed nothing but veterans over the past few offseasons (Battier, Allen, Rashard Lewis, Chris Andersen, Erick Dampier, Ronny Turiaf) because veterans are the most likely to take lesser contracts, since they've already made their money.
Dallas Mavericks' center Brandan Wright may be a young big man who could come cheap for the Heat.
Turning 26 in October, Wright has been a part of three NBA teams since being a first-round draft pick of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2007. Wright has failed to live up to the billing of being an eighth overall pick and recently spent time with the Mavericks, where he finally put together a respectable season averaging 8.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.
He had a solid season shooting the ball, too, converting 54 percent of his jump shots and 56 percent of the shots taken from 3-to-10 feet, per basketball-reference.com. According to Synergy, he ranked 19th in the league in points per possession as the pick-and-roll recipient, shooting 62 percent.
While it's true the Heat have Chris Andersen, Wright is a similar player in a younger man's body. He can go over-the-top of defenses for alley-oops and can repel shots, averaging at least a block per over the past two seasons.
Other options: Ryan Hollins