Updates from Monday, July 14
The Miami Heat confirmed Josh McRoberts' arrival on Monday via the team's Instagram account with the following caption:
OFFICIAL: The @MiamiHEAT have signed F Josh McRoberts. “We felt from day one that he was one of our main targets. We are delighted that this multi-faceted player will help us immensely in being the kind of team that Coach Spoelstra wants with his versatility.” - Miami HEAT President Pat Riley
In what turned out to be a bidding war between Southeast Division foes, Josh McRoberts chose the allure of South Beach over a return to Charlotte.
McRoberts and the Miami Heat verbally agreed on a four-year, $23 million contract Monday, equipping Miami with one of the game's more underappreciated role players. ESPN's Marc Stein reported details of the deal:
The Heat later released a statement on McRoberts from Pat Riley:
Miami HEAT President of Basketball Operations Pat Riley announced today that the team has been engaged in negotiations with free agent forward Josh McRoberts and intends to sign him to a contract at the conclusion of the NBA Moratorium Period.
A 2007 second-round pick, McRoberts found his niche over the last season-and-a-half in Charlotte. He averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 2013-14. Given freedom by coach Steve Clifford to distribute out of the high post and stretch beyond the three-point line, McRoberts found a place willing to accentuate his skills.
“He’s smart. He’s been around a while and he understands the game," free-agent point guard Jameer Nelson told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. "He’s not looking to score a lot, but he is looking to make the offense and the defense work. So whether it’s passing, running the floor, setting screens—he does everything right."
Zach Lowe of Grantland noted how McRoberts' fit in Charlotte likely made the move difficult:
McRoberts, who declined his $2.7 million player option for 2014-15, instantly found himself more of a target for teams than at any other point in his career. The Blazers, Hornets, Heat and other organizations reached out to the 27-year-old in recent days, with Miami and Charlotte becoming front-runners over the weekend.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported Monday that Charlotte upped its offer to the full mid-level exception—roughly double what McRoberts was due to earn. But Miami was also said to be pouncing, and committing to a four-year deal at the full mid-level was enough to win McRoberts over.
Using a mid-level exception deal indicates that the Heat plan on staying above the NBA's salary cap. It may also be a sign that Heat president Pat Riley is confident in his ability to keep LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. In recent days, rampant speculation has popped up—specifically in regard to James and Bosh.
McRoberts apparently decided a chance to play for a title was worth rolling the dice on the Big Three's return.
At this price, McRoberts is expected to match his production from last season. The Heat need McRoberts' three-point shooting (36.1 percent last season) and facilitating out of the high post to continue. The former Duke standout was one of just three players who primarily played the power forward or center spot to average four or more assists per game last season. Kevin Love and Joakim Noah—two of the NBA's best bigs—were the other two.
Clifford utilized him in that role in large part out of necessity. Charlotte's spacing was a mess for most of last season due to poor perimeter shooting littered across the roster. Pairing McRoberts with Al Jefferson was one of the few ways Clifford could coax a cogent offense.
Charlotte scored 105.4 points per 100 possessions when McRoberts and Jefferson shared the floor, four points better than its overall average, per NBA.com. In layman's terms, the 2013-14 Bobcats scored like the Warriors with their front line together. They were hanging out with the Bucks, Jazz and Bulls when the two weren't paired. Charlotte's drafting of Noah Vonleh may help lessen the blow of his departure.
So even though $23 million looks like a high total for someone like McRoberts, it's for a purpose. He'll ostensibly get to work with a far better group of players around him next season and in the type of system that emphasizes McRoberts' two best skills: shooting and passing.
Factoring in his excellent pick-and-pop numbers last season, Miami is getting a better NBA player than most casual fans assume. Whether he's worth a mid-level contract will likely depend on how his signing influences James and Bosh.
Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter: