It is time for the NBA's contenders to shore up weaknesses that caused them to fall short of a championship. Even the Miami Heat have to be thinking about addressing their imperfections to give themselves the best shot at repeating again.
With the regular season done and the NBA draft set for Thursday, June 27, the offseason is about to kick into high gear. Free agency officially begins on July 1, and while Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and a few other big-name stars will get the majority of attention, a few low-cost veterans could be key for a contending team's championship run.
The following players are veterans who won't warrant anywhere near a maximum deal but would be huge additions to teams with their eyes on the prize.
Chris Andersen, C/PF, Unrestricted Free Agent
With his personal problems seemingly behind him, the Birdman's energy and efficiency around the rim was an asset to the Heat's championship run. He shot an amazing 80 percent from the field in the postseason, including a stretch of 18 straight makes.
Andersen contests shots at the rim and averaged 3.8 rebounds in 15 minutes of action per game. He isn't a starter on a good team, but he has proven he can be a valuable contributor off the bench for a champion.
The Heat would be smart to bring him back, and Birdman would be wise to return.
Kyle Korver, SG/SF, Unrestricted Free Agent
Every team needs shooters and there are few better in the league than Korver. At 32 years old, Korver made 45 percent of his shots from long distance for the Atlanta Hawks last season.
He's only shot better in one season, and that was the 2009-10 campaign when he made 53 percent of his threes with Utah. He'll never be a great defender, but he works hard on both ends of the floor in an attempt to prevent himself from being a liability.
Korver's slow feet on defense are easier to accept because of his three-point marksmanship. Take a look at his shooting numbers throughout his career:
A return to the Chicago Bulls is a possibility. In February, Korver was asked if he would consider returning to Chicago this summer. Per Shams Charania of Real GM, Korver said:
Totally, I would. That’s a great organization, that’s an awesome jersey to put on. Great fans, good team. You only get to be a free agent so many times in a career, so I’ll definitely see what’s all there. But I would absolutely listen to what they’ve got to say.
The Bulls struggled mightily to find dependable long-range shooters this past season. The team was ranked 21st in the NBA in three-point percentage. With Derrick Rose returning next season and expectations high, Korver would seemingly be a logical target for the Bulls.
He knows the Bulls' system and obviously fills a major need.
Will Bynum, PG, Unrestricted Free Agent
Though small in stature, Bynum has displayed the ability to score big. Standing just 6'0", Bynum is a sturdy 185 pounds and quick with the basketball. His explosive leaping, ability to get into the lane and 80-percent free-throw shooting makes him a solid scoring option off the bench.
Playing just 18 minutes per night this past season, Bynum averaged 9.8 points and 3.6 assists per game.
If the Detroit Pistons don't bring him back, Bynum could be an attractive option for teams like the Indiana Pacers, Bulls, Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Clippers.
It seems like either Paul or Eric Bledsoe may not be with the latter for the 2013-14 season. Paul could leave via free agency, and Bledsoe's name has been included in various trade rumors. Bynum's scoring punch would fit well as a backup for the player who remains in Clipperland.
Bynum could also play the same type of role behind the Pacers' George Hill, Rose or the Celtics' Rajon Rondo.
Chris Kaman, C, Unrestricted Free Agent
When healthy, Kaman is a formidable shot-blocker and rebounder. He's only 31 years old, and he appeared in 66 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season. That was the most games he's played since the 2009-10 season when he competed in 76 games for the Clippers.
Kaman scored 10.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and just under a blocked shot per game in 20.7 minutes.
The rest of the NBA should be playing a game of Keep Kaman Away From the Heat. Although Kaman made $8 million on a one-year deal with the Mavs last season, he may take less to play for a contender.
The Heat could elect not to re-sign Birdman and Juwan Howard to make room for the true center the Big Three has never had.
Per Hoops Hype, Miami already has over $85 million to pay signed players for the 2013-14 season. With the luxury tax penalties (Larry Coon of CBAfaq.com explains) getting more stringent, it would cost the Heat a pretty penny when all is said and done.
However, there is a cost to maintain a dynasty.
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