At some point between beating the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 NBA Finals and now, the Miami Heat got really old. At the end of this season, some players will be heading into retirement, while much of the roster comes off the books. To get a face-lift suitable for South Beach, the Heat will need to find some bargains on the free-agency market.
If you've been paying attention, you know some of the bigger role players set to hit the market—Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng, Marcin Gortat, Pau Gasol and Vince Carter, to name a few—and Miami would be lucky to grab one of them.
A lot of it depends on how much the Big Three re-sign for (mandatory disclaimer: if they re-sign). I give more detail on the potential salaries of the Big Three here.
That's before re-signing Chris Andersen, who may (and should) opt out of his deal worth about $1.5 million next season in hopes of a raise, and Mario Chalmers, who could also get a pay bump on the open market.
Let's take a look at some under-the-radar free-agent bargains the Heat need to consider.
Miami waited to sign a point guard last offseason, finally signing Roger Mason Jr, after guys such as Shaun Livingston got picked up. Mason was eventually traded for Toney Douglas, who hasn't made much of a dent in the playoffs. With Chalmers being a free agent, the Heat should add depth early.
Bayless plays tough and is a good three-point shooter. He isn't going to direct the offense, but he could bring some scoring off the bench. Bayless' problem is that he isn't stellar on defense, but he isn't so bad that he is unplayable, averaging more than 20 minutes per game each of the last four seasons (including two on defense-conscious teams Memphis and Boston).
ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg wrote:
Bayless provided flexibility at the guard spot, bouncing between the 1 and 2 when Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley were sidelined. ... At the right price, the 25-year-old Bayless provides nice versatility off the bench, but he has strides to make defensively.
If Miami is looking to add a combo-guard, Bayless could be a bargain.
Richard Jefferson, SF, Utah Jazz
The Heat have been known to sign veterans on the last leg of their NBA tour during the Big Three era. Jefferson fits the bill.
After playing an average of 39 games per season between 2011 and 2013, Jefferson played in 78 games this season for the Utah Jazz, posting his best numbers since being in San Antonio for the 2010-11 season. Jefferson averaged 10.1 points in 27 minutes per game, shooting 40.9 percent from three-point range.
However, Jefferson is often a liability on defense, which could keep him on the bench. But if Miami could sign him for the veteran minimum, it's a value pickup.
Xavier Henry, SG/SF, Los Angeles Lakers
Xavier Henry was part of a growing crowd on the wings in L.A. He got surgery on his wrist and knee in April that sidelined him for the season. The Lakers will be retooling the roster, and Henry could be the odd man out.
Henry has started just 23 games in four seasons, but the former No. 12 overall pick had his best NBA season with the Lakers. A lot of that has to do with Mike D'Antoni's balls-to-the-wall system, but Miami could use a 35 percent three-point shooter and capable wing defender.
He showed that he has the potential to go off for a random 20-point game (going off for at least 20 points in six games this season), a valuable threat on any NBA bench.
Henry should be ready by training camp, but his injury could allow the Heat to negotiate a favorable trial-year contract.
Jonas Jerebko, PF, Detroit Pistons
Miami will likely look to add front-court depth this summer. Cheap, reliable big men are hard to come by. The Heat got lucky when Denver used its amnesty on Chris Andersen. Otherwise, Miami signed the likes of Eddy Curry and Greg Oden during the Big Three era.
Jerebko has seen his role decline in each of his four years, playing just 11.6 minutes per game last season. But he's a second-round pick who saw his team draft Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond and sign Josh Smith during his tenure. He has the ability to opt out of his $4.5 million deal and might do so in the name of playing time.
The 6'10'', 230-pound man from Sweden is a decent rebounder and shooter, but he was especially good from the corners, making an astounding 17 of 22 shots (77 percent) from the sweet spots.
Stan Van Gundy just took over the Detroit Pistons operation. Out of the league, he witnessed the NBA run with his inside-out game plan. He may see the potential in Jerebko, but he may have to let him go with the team already invested in the aforementioned three players.
Jerebko would fit well in Miami's small-ball approach and may even be able to play a little bit of center. His ability to hit the corner three at an efficient rate could be a potential gold mine.
Andrew Goudelock, SG, Unics Kazan (Russia)
Hey, it says "under the radar" right in the headline. The reigning Eurocup MVP (and 2013 D-League MVP), Goudelock averaged 20 points per game as a 50-40-90 player in Russia.
Sure, Russia isn't known for its tough defense (guys just fall over in the above clip), but Goudelock shows nice touch from everywhere on the court.
Signing him as a spark-scorer could give Miami a lethal threat off the bench.
After using its amnesty provision on Mike Miller, the Heat showed that it is concerned about the luxury tax. Guys such as Ray Allen and Andersen won't always fall into the suit-dressed lap of Pat Riley, so the Heat would do well to find some diamonds lying in the free-agent rough.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!