Watching Dwyane Wade the last couple of years do literally everything for the Miami Heat, you have to feel for the guy. Watching the Heat get destroyed the other night by an over the hill Celtic team while Wade gave his all you can see the frustration brewing. Every night the Heat are outmanned at every position except SG. Last night was more of the same from recent times in Miami. Wade has little to no consistent help. Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal make occasional appearances but Beasley is too young and JO is too old.
Wade says all the right things but losing the way they did to the C's has to weigh on any player, but even moreso for one who has been to the championship mountaintop. ”One player can’t win it,” Wade said. ”We need everyone who comes in to be positive and have a positive input. We’ve got a couple guys who are struggling right now. As we always do as a team we’re going to stick together. That’s the only reason we’re here now, the only reason we have success.”
All this will change this summer. It absolutely has to if the Heat want to keep Wade, easily the best player in the franchise's fairly short history. If not, Wade will be out.
Wade had his typical MVP-caliber season this year but it took a late season run to make the playoffs in the not so competitive Eastern Conference.
So what should the Heat do? They will have a boatload of cap space and at least one decent young piece that might help facilitate some trades.
Currently, the Heat have about only $6M committed for next year between two players, Michael Beasley and Daequan Cook. That would leave them $50M left to sign players if the recent predictions of $56.1M for next years cap are correct.
Here is my plan to improve the team. Obviously the #1 priority is to re-sign Wade. There are no other options if they don’t get his name on the bottom of a new contract. After that the Heat need a front court low post presence. To address that need they should go after Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire (in that order).
Bosh would be the first choice but he has made it clear that if he does leave Toronto that he will do it by way of sign and trade deal so that he can get more money. The only commodity that the Heat have is Michael Beasley and have more than enough money to sign Bosh outright. I would not cash in the Beasley chip for Bosh.
The gap between Bosh and Boozer is pretty small in my opinion and you can use Beasley later to fill in other holes. I’m not big on giving players who aren’t “max players” max money but if that is what it takes to get Boozer to Miami, then so be it. All indications show that he wants to be there anyway so maybe they can save a couple million capitalizing on that desire.
Next up, they need a big time scorer who can take some of the load off of Wade. My choice for that role would be Memphis restricted free agent, Rudy Gay. Memphis can match any offer made to Gay so it would likely take a max deal to wrest him away from the Grizz. Maybe even dangling Beasley as part of a sign and trade would get the deal done.
These two deals won’t leave them with much money left to sign other players but a trio of Wade, Gay and Boozer is a very nice start. Hopefully they can get Joel Anthony to re-sign to meager deal and they also have the 18th pick in the draft to address depth concerns.
If Memphis matches the next best (and much cheaper) option would be John Salmons who should fit pretty nicely and leave the team with quite bit money to sign another mid-level talent. They would then also be able to keep Beasley and maybe try to pawn him off on some unsuspecting team for a more consistent player.
If the Heat do end up with Salmons instead of Gay, they may also be able to land a veteran PG like Steve Blake or Earl Watson to handle some playmaking duties. PG isn’t a position of huge need because Wade handles the ball so much. That is where a shooter like Daequan Cook can fill a nice role for the team. Wade’s ballhandling/playmaking ability is also why I would rather they went after Blake for the PG role. He is a pretty good shooter and much better than Watson so he can find some empty space when Wade has the ball and be a pretty good spot up option.
A starting lineup of Blake, Wade, Gay/Salmons, Boozer, and Anthony along with Cook and a few vets/cheap contributors off the bench should be a markedly improved playoff team next year and will provide a good foundation that can be built upon over the next couple of years with MLE acquisitions and cagey drafting. If done correctly, the Heat can get Wade some help and lay down tracks this summer that can lead them all the way back to elite of the NBA.