The Miami Heat are a team with blemishes. It shows its age like Al Pacino and could make a Denny's waitress cringe with its lack of effort sometimes.
To fill in the cracks, the Heat are in the market to make a move, as Grantland's Zach Lowe reports.
And should be.
Miami is prepared to waive either Roger Mason Jr. or Toney Douglas to open up a roster spot. The Heat had real interest in Andrew Bynum before Indiana struck, and if they can’t find anything via trade, they’ll monitor the buyout market for guys like [Emeka] Okafor (unlikely to play at all this season, sadly) and Caron Butler.
Partly due to its lack of size and nagging injuries, the Heat won last season's NBA Finals by the brown of their guacamole.
This season, the injury palmetto bug could play a factor again and a monster is threatening in Indiana.
Defense has been the primary concern for Miami and the Heat admittedly have not been up to snuff, with Shane Battier going as far to say "the other team has a full menu of what they want to get—paint shots, three's, transition” after a January loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Miami ranks 16th in the NBA in points allowed per possession but rank first in the NBA in points per possession on offense. They lead (by far) in many shooting categories, including field-goal percentage, true shooting and effective field-goal percentage.
But they have to score like that because they aren't winning as often on defense. On the spectrum of NBA teams, the Heat are closer to the Portland Trail Blazers than the Oklahoma City Thunder. If you go by the stats, that is.
So let's get back to those cracks.
Power forward? More like...
If you subscribe to the theory that teams should have three solid big men in the rotation, then you see that Miami has a sink hole at power forward.
Udonis Haslem is getting the Juwan Howard treatment. The dude barely plays and, when he does, could be mistaken for a zombie extra on The Walking Dead.
Miami may not have been expecting Haslem's almost-overnight decline from respectable rotation guy to absolute liability (although he seemed overmatched at times during last season's title run).
The Chris Bosh-Chris Andersen-Haslem trio worked out nicely enough to win two championships, each piece crucial to the limited front-court rotation.
Yes, the Heat play small for the most part, but Battier shouldn't be guarding 4's all season long or else we could see a repeat of his shivering performance in last season's playoffs.
Greg Oden is a work in progress—with the emphasis on "progress"—but should be more of a plumber's wrench than a screwdriver (translation: he should be used in certain circumstances, but isn't always the go-to option) as he continues to get back in playing shape.
So a neo-Haslem becomes Miami's biggest need. Having a legitimate 4 who can hit a mid-range shot and attack the boards for 10-15 minutes a game would do wonders for the Heat's rotation. It would let them move Battier around a bit more, sit Andersen when he gets in foul trouble and fatten up the roster.
What’s the move?
One problem is that the Heat don't have much to offer on the trading floor. Miami has already dealt away future picks and doesn’t have many trade-friendly contracts.
For Miami to add someone, they will likely have to piggyback on another trade—like the deal between the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics for Toney Douglas—or dig up some treasure on the buyout market like they did with Andersen.
As Lowe wrote, the Heat could go with Okafor should he become available. Glen Davis in Orlando, Brandon Bass in Boston, Cleveland's Anderson Varejao and any of the power forwards buried on Sacramento's roster are some names to watch, too.
The Philadelphia 76ers also seem open for business, and Spencer Hawes or Thaddeus Young would look nice in a Heat uniform. Although both of those are a stretch since Miami doesn’t have the contracts to match up.
Via David Aldridge of NBA.com: “There's been a lot of smoke around the league that Denver's made Faried available in trade talk. The Nuggets, of course, deny it, which means it's likely true.”
The Nuggets could use a point guard with Nate Robinson out for the season with a torn ACL. However, Miami's only tradable point guard is Mason (since Douglas can't be dealt until two months after being traded). Even if they throw in some trade exception and a future pick, that probably isn't enough to get the Nuggets to bite. The more likely way Pat Riley gets Faried is in a three-team deal.
It looks like Miami's best bet is to wait and see who gets bought out after other teams do some dealing.
On the horizon
The Heat have a void at power forward that widens in direct relationship to how well the Pacers play. Finding a third big man is paramount, as both teams seem to be on a crash course for the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Heat needed everything they could get from their bigs against Indiana in last year's conference finals, including 17 points from Haslem in Game 3 of that series, and may need even more in this year's playoffs against an even stouter Pacers team.
Adding a third big at the deadline, either by trade or the buyout market, could help stamp Miami’s ticket back to the NBA Finals.
Statistics accurate as of Feb. 12, 2014. You can follow Wes on Twitter @wcgoldberg.