Despite two straight titles, Pat Riley has a few decisions to make this offseason.
It's easy to understand why Heat president Pat Riley doesn't want to upset the chemistry of a roster that has made it to three consecutive NBA Finals. That said, Miami's front office realizes that several tough decisions have to be made before opening night next season.
And while there's no need to make any drastic changes, every avenue needs to be debated and explored: There's a lot of work that goes into defending the throne both on and off of the court.
Clearly, the biggest question facing the Miami Heat this offseason is the decision on whether or not to break up the infamous Big Three. And while dismantling the core of a team that just won back-to-back championships seems foolish at face value, there are several reasons why Riley needs to at least consider making a change.
With the rest of the league gaining ground on the Heat, Miami has to figure out a way to improve this summer—staying dormant simply isn't an option. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are all but untouchable at this point, leaving Chris Bosh as the team's most valuable commodity.
If Bosh can be dealt for players who are a more ideal fit in Erik Spoelstra's schemes, then it may make sense to prematurely end the Big Three era in South Beach.
Perhaps even more importantly, James, Wade and Bosh all have the ability to be unrestricted free agents next summer: It may be wise to think about moving Bosh now in order to avoid the salary cap nightmare that could arise in July 2014.
Riley doesn't appear eager to use the amnesty clause on Mike Miller, but there are two other members of the roster—Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony—who could potentially find themselves victims of the provision.
Haslem started 59 games in 2012-13, making the chance that he'll be waived this summer rather slim. So if Miami does exercise the amnesty clause this year (and the smart money says that the Heat don't), the most likely candidate is reserve center Joel Anthony.
The 30-year-old Anthony is on the books for two more years at a total of $7.6 million: Not an excessive amount of money, but a significant chunk of change for a team projected to be well into luxury tax territory.
Due to salary-cap constraints, the Heat are limited to signing free agents to either the veteran minimum or the "mini" mid-level exception (which figures to be approximately $3.2 million).
There figures to be no shortage of players willing to come to Miami with the goal of chasing a championship, so the Heat front office needs to determine if adding a body or two is worth the extra expense. With the increased luxury tax penalties taking effect this year, Miami will have to pay a steep price for any and all new acquisitions made during the offseason.
Chris Andersen's breakout performance this past season made him one of the more attractive free agents on this year's market. Unfortunately for Miami, it also made him that much more difficult to re-sign.
There's mutual interest between the Heat and Andersen, but the 34-year-old center may be looking for a far more lucrative deal than Miami can offer him. While the Heat would only be able to sign Andersen to the veteran minimum next season, he could easily make twice that should he choose to sign elsewhere.
Not only do the Heat have a number of reserves who would be valuable to other teams, but they boast no fewer than five players who are on the final year of their respective contracts.
With many teams struggling to deal with a smaller-than-projected salary cap, it wouldn't be hard for Miami to swap a few of its expiring contracts for a valuable, young rotation player. At some point, the Heat need to prepare for the post-James, post-Wade era, and this summer, they may be in an ideal position to finally begin that process.