The Miami Heat will enter the 2013 offseason with little financial flexibility. Still, a couple of key players will/can (depending on options) come off the books, so there's still important work to be done.
Here's how the Heat should prioritize their offseason: how to deal with their own potential free agents as well as how to approach the open market.
1. Re-sign Chris Andersen
At the most, the Heat can/will likely offer Andersen the taxpayer's mid-level figure of $3.2 million, and they absolutely should.
Miami signed Andersen back in January for the energy he plays with as well as for rebounding and defensive help. He's brought all of that to the Heat and done so to a greater extent than many expected.
He didn't play big minutes in the regular season, and that's continued in the postseason, but Andersen's value has been especially clear during May.
In the playoffs, he's been the Heat's top offensive rebounder—and overall rebounder—grabbing 5.2 offensive rebounds and 10.5 total per 36 minutes. Those are both Heat bests.
He also hasn't been an offensive liability, which has been an issue with Heat backup centers throughout the Big Three era. His work on the glass has led to putback opportunities. He's shooting 76.9 percent from the field and scoring 18.7 points per 36 minutes.
On top of that, Andersen's energy has been contagious. He has often livened up the Heat crowd and his teammates during the postseason.
Andersen's been the Heat's perfect backup center. Bringing him back needs to be Miami's top offseason priority.
2. Exercise Mario Chalmers' Team Option
Chalmers has caused Heat fans plenty of headaches over the years. And even though, unlike Andersen, he's not lighting it up this postseason, Miami should exercise his $4 million option.
First of all, $4 million isn't very much. It's not like there are great point guards on the free-agent market available for that sum.
Second of all, Chalmers has shown improvement over the past couple of years. After turning the ball over 2.2 times per game last season, he turned it over just 1.5 per contest in 2012-13.
For the third consecutive season, he's improved his assist-to-turnover ratio. And at 26 years old—about to enter his prime—there's no reason to believe that trend won't continue.
Also, Chalmers, more so than ever before, did what the Heat needed him to do this season.
Along with cutting down on the turnovers, Chalmers was deadly from beyond the arc. He shot a career-best 40.9 percent on three-pointers this season.
Miami's offense requires shooters on the floor, and Chalmers has grown into a very good one.
There's also the familiarity factor with 'Rio. He's been with the team for five years. He was the starting point guard when they won the championship. And after this postseason, he could be their starting point guard for two championship teams. There's not much incentive for Miami to switch things up here.
3. Sign a Cheap Center
If the Heat are to re-sign Andersen and exercise Chalmers' option, then they will be really strapped for cash, especially if James Jones and Ray Allen opt-in on their player options.
That's plenty fine, as Miami is the championship favorite this season, so if they are able to bring basically everyone back from this team then they have to be satisfied.
But that obviously would limit what they can do in terms of bringing in talent from the outside.
Still, bringing in someone like Ryan Hollins currently of the Los Angeles Clippers as an extra big body off the bench isn't so bad for Miami.
Also, there is the possibility that the Heat could talk an aging veteran—who wants to chase a title—into taking a pay cut. Pat Riley has worked his magic before and could do it again this offseason.
Regardless if Riley's able to pull something like that off, Miami should look to sign a center with their small amount of remaining money. Miami has plenty of shooters and Chalmers, along with a much-improved Norris Cole, is sufficient at the point guard position.
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