The majority of the Miami Heat's 2013-14 roster is set. But with seemingly two roster spots up for grabs, the potential remains for the Heat to make some interesting moves.
The 13 roster locks (assuming Miami doesn't make a trade): LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, Rashard Lewis, James Jones, Joel Anthony and Greg Oden.
And the competitors for roster spots No. 14 and No. 15: Larry Drew II, Eric Griffin, Justin Hamilton, Roger Mason Jr., Michael Beasley, Jarvis Varnado and Charlie Westbrook.
Surprise No.1: Beasley and/or Mason Are Cut
Even considering we're at an early stage of the preseason, it would be surprising if the final two spots didn't go to Beasley and Mason Jr.
It was clear from training camp that Heat players want the Beasley experiment to work (e.g., Wade being in Beasley's ear during practice and Haslem having a mentor-like one-on-one talk with him, according to Bleacher Report's own Ethan Skolnick).
Beasley also makes sense from a basketball standpoint, if he can get his act together. Miami wants to fill the court with shooters, and if Beasley isn't taking absurd shots, he can provide value as a scoring-reserve forward.
Also boding well for Beasley's roster chances is that he's been saying the right things, like the following about his expectations for minutes (via Skolnick):
"I can't control minutes," Beasley said. "I ain't got no minutes in my pocket, and I ain't got no crazy cellphone plan. I'm OK just being here. I'm grateful for the opportunity. I'm grateful somebody still believes in me."
As for Mason, on top of being an established veteran unlike the rest of his competition (excluding Beasley), he, too, makes sense for this team.
Miami could really use a third shooting guard behind Wade and Allen, considering the concern about Dwyane's knees and the fact that Ray is 38 years old.
Mason Jr. would fit in well if Wade needed to miss some time. As we've talked about, the Heat want as many shooters on the floor as possible, and with a career 38.4 percent outside shot, Mason is, indeed, a shooter.
If there was any doubt about Mason Jr's potential to make this team, his team-high 27 minutes in the Heat's preseason opener on Monday should help erase that.
With Mason Jr. and Beasley's biggest competition likely being Varnado—a member of the 2012-13 Heat who Miami doesn't really need anymore with the signing of Oden—anything less than those two guys on the opening night roster would be stunning.
Surprise No.2: Heat Make a Trade
Another surprising move could come via a trade. Seemingly, the only two plausible candidates for that would be Cole and Anthony.
Fox Sports' Sam Amico reported on Sunday that the Heat had explored trading Cole. While the Heat announced they had exercised the young point guard's option of a little more than $2 million for the 2014-15 season on Tuesday, a trade still remains possible.
If the Heat actually do send Cole away, it would surely be shocking. Not only does the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" apply here, but Norris became a legitimate asset for Miami in the 2013 postseason. He showed improvement in his playmaking skills, was Miami's most efficient outside shooter and remained a great on-ball defender.
Cole isn't just a backup point guard; he's one of Miami's few young and developing players.
In Anthony's case, the rumors of him possibly being traded started immediately after Miami signed Oden.
When Oden is healthy, Anthony is the Heat's No. 4 center. He averaged 9.1 minutes per game last season and is in line for even fewer in 2013-14. Considering Joel makes $3.8 million this year and has a player option for the same amount in 2014-15 (via Hoopshype), it makes plenty of sense as to why the Heat would want to trade him.
The tricky part for Miami, and what would make a trade surprising, is them trying to get anything of value for Anthony. He's 31, a poor rebounder and an offensive liability. His saving grace is his pick-and-roll defense, but again, he has an awful contract.
With how good this Heat team is, one would figure there isn't a ton of motivation for Miami to make one of the moves we've discussed. Still, Pat Riley has shocked us all before. Let's see if he decides to do it again.
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