After a draft loaded with surprises, many teams throughout the NBA found themselves with assets that will ultimately reshape their plans as far as free agency goes.
The Miami Heat, however, will not be faced with any need to reshape their free agency plans after drafting Long Beach State forward James Ennis.
The objectives for the Heat this summer will always be twofold, regardless of the acquisition of Ennis’ talents.
First and foremost, the top priority of Miami this offseason is to reel in Chris Andersen, otherwise known as Birdman, for a second go-around with the Heat.
Birdman thoroughly enjoyed nesting in South Florida throughout the second half of the season, and it’s not entirely difficult to see why.
Winning a championship and playing alongside LeBron James tend to equal a good time for any player.
On the Heat’s side, Andersen provided much-needed toughness and size down low when Miami was desperate for those attributes the most. On top of that, Andersen quickly became not only a fan favorite, but also a favorite in the locker room.
In short, Andersen was integral to the Heat’s third title this past season.
After bringing back Andersen, Miami’s next biggest task will be signing another physical presence to help in the post both defensively and on the boards.
Greg Oden and Jermaine O’Neal are two names that have been floated around Miami’s camp, but the list ranges anywhere from those two, to guys like Ryan Hollins, Jason Collins, Chris Kaman and more.
Whoever it ends up being, it’s a safe bet the Heat will most certainly bring in another big man this summer.
Miami simply cannot afford to do otherwise.
Miami is high on Ennis, a forward who stands at 6’7’’ and weighs in at 210 pounds.
Despite being picked 50th overall, the Heat do believe Ennis has the ability to become a consistent rotation player in this league. Unfortunately for the Long Beach State standout, that time isn’t guaranteed to be this year.
When the Heat drafted Ennis, all that was ensured to the forward was a tryout with the club.
With that in mind, Miami already has 12 players under contract with Ray Allen’s recent announcement to opt into his player option for the 2013-14 campaign. And considering Andersen is regarded as a lock to return to Miami next season, that leaves just two open spots on the Heat’s roster.
If Miami does sign an additional big man, as everyone around the league expects, then that makes it one spot.
If Ennis plays well this summer and impresses the staff, it will be difficult to say no.
However, there are a few other factors he will be competing against.
For one, there’s Juwan Howard. Howard was brought on board midway through the season to serve as a player-coach, and Miami liked what he brought to the table in that role. There’s a chance the Heat could extend Howard an invitation to officially join the coaching staff, which would leave that spot open for Ennis’ taking.
Also, there’s undrafted free agent Myck Kabongo.
Kabongo is being called a steal on Miami’s part, as the former Texas point guard went undrafted after playing just 14 games last season due to a suspension from the NCAA because of illegal contact with an agent.
Kabongo, who was just a sophomore, received five-star ratings across the board at various recruiting sites coming out of high school.
Even though Miami already has both Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers under contract, Kabongo can make things difficult for the Heat as far as decision-making goes. If he pans out, Kabongo could allow Miami to deal Cole or Chalmers in order to clear cap room for additional moves, or he could simply come on board to be groomed for the down the road as Chalmers’ future with the club beyond next season is up in the air.
Either way, Kabongo and Ennis will definitely be battling, as well as fighting other parties including free agents, for that final roster spot.