The playoffs aren’t even over, and every fan around the country is already turning at least some of their attention to the upcoming 2010 Free Agent bonanza. It’s been talked about ad nauseam over the past few years, and is about to go into overdrive once whoever wins the title this year hoists the championship trophy.
A major reason a great deal of attention is being paid to the issue already is the fact the Boston Celtics bounced my beloved Miami Heat out of the playoffs so early. While Chris Bosh had been sitting on the sidelines watching the postseason all along, not many people were avidly postulating where he would end up next year over the past week, probably because it’s almost assured he will leave, and no one can possibly know where he’ll land.
Dwyane Wade being added to the discussion makes things much more interesting, since there’s plenty of contention as to whether he’ll stay in Miami or leave for another venue, and when LeBron James and Amar’e Stoudemire are added to the mix once their respective teams end their playoff runs, the discussion will become a frenzy of chaotic wishful thinking on the part of many.
There’s already a plethora of articles on Bleacher Report as well as other websites positing the future fate of Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Many are, in my personal view, foolishly believing D-Wade is about to leave the franchise that drafted him. I’m of the firm belief there’s not a chance in hell of that happening.
Instead, I believe Dwyane Wade will resign with the Heat. Certainly he’s waiting to see what moves Pat Riley and Miami make in order to build the dynasty they’ve talked about, but in the end I believe the moves Riles and owner Mickey Arison are going to make will more than satisfy him and lead to his resigning.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I believe Riley’s prime target is LeBron James. In fact, the first article I wrote on this site well over a year ago stated that exact thing. I haven’t changed my view in that time, either. Riles is dead set on getting King James if there is any possibility.
Of course, if the Cleveland Cavaliers win the title this year, you can throw that plan right out the window, and that is a very real possibility. In that scenario, all efforts would likely turn to landing Chris Bosh. Barring that, though, Riles will be doing everything in his power, once it’s legal for him to do so, to lure LeBron to South Beach.
Yet, landing LeBron (or Bosh) to play alongside Dwyane Wade won’t be enough to assure a title. They’ll need a team around them as well. The majority of the pieces of that team are already on the roster for Miami, or can easily be resigned at a bargain. However, there are one or two other pieces they’ll need to acquire in order to guarantee a dynasty.
The second and third additions (after LeBron or Bosh) they’ll have to make are through subtraction. They will have to let Jermaine O’Neal and Quentin Richardson go. Thankfully O’Neal’s contract is now up, and this move is an easy one to make. I don’t think there’s a single Miami fan who would like to see O’Neal roaming the court in a Heat uniform next year at any price, let alone costing them $23 million.
As for Richardson, while he was a valuable asset at times for the Heat, but the simple fact is Miami will be shopping for a new SF named LeBron. If not, and they go for Chris Bosh and Michael Beasley would be moved to the position. So, while most Miami fans will be wishing Q-Rich well, they’ll be wishing him to do well somewhere else.
The fourth addition should be finding a way to lure David Lee to South Beach. For some altogether unfathomable reason, Knick's coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t seem to like this guy, and since he’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, Miami should be pursuing him with a vengeance to take over at center for O’Neal.
Yes, Lee is markedly undersized at the center position, but only if you’re talking in regard to how that position was played ten years ago, and only if you’re ignoring the fact Lee is a rebounding machine, regardless of what position he plays. He played many a game at center for the New York Knicks this year, and averaged 20.2 PPG, 11.7 RPG, and 3.6 APG. Those are Hall of Fame type numbers for a guy who is basically being given the cold shoulder by his own team.
And this year wasn’t some strange anomaly for Lee, either. Last season he averaged 16 PPG, 11.7 RPG, and 2.2 APG. He’s shot 55.7 percent for his career over the three seasons he’s been with New York, and is a consistent foul shooter as well, with a 77.4 percent mark from the charity stripe.
Again, while he’s a bit undersized, traditionally, at the center position, if he had Dwyane Wade and LeBron James on his team, along with Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, I don’t think he’d have a problem dealing with most of the opposing centers in the league. The simple fact is, he would be a vast improvement over Jermaine O’Neal, and with Joel Anthony spelling him at times, would be a great addition.
After they’ve made these moves, and I expect the signing of LeBron will happen, although I’m not even sure Riles is thinking about Lee (though he should be), the fifth move would be to resign as many of the players from this past season’s roster as they can.
Dorrell Wright is a must have. While it’s taken him a few years to develop, he’s honestly beginning to show serious value. There is no reason they shouldn’t bring him back if they can. He’s a free agent, so he’ll likely test his value, but Miami, especially if they add LeBron James or Chris Bosh, would be a much more appealing place for him to play than if he went somewhere else. Besides, he’s D-Wade’s best friend.
Udonis Haslem’s return will be a little more difficult, as he will likely command in free agency more than the Heat will be able to spend. If Riles can find some way to lure him back, he should expend every effort to do so. I plan on writing an article about Udonis, who I believe has, along with Dwyane Wade, been the heart and soul of the Heat over the past six years.
Beasley is already under contract for next year at just under $5 million, as is Daequan Cook at just over $2 million, so I can’t see them going anywhere unless Miami and Riles do something with a trade of Beasley. I don’t expect that, but I won’t deny it’s a possibility. If that were to happen, though, I’d see them bringing Udonis Haslem back (unless they acquired Chris Bosh).
Mario Chalmers has an $847,000 team option for next season, which I fully expect the Heat to exercise. That final game of the playoffs probably solidified that choice in Riley’s mind.
Beyond that, Miami has no one under contract other than Wade, who has a player option of just over $17 million he can exercise. Of course, he’s likely to be resigned to a Max Contract that will surpass that, but I believe next year’s payroll would still only reflect that $17 million for Wade on the Heat’s books.
That leaves Carlos Arroyo, Yakhouba Diawara, Joel Anthony, Jamaal Magloire, and others without a contract, but I believe most or all of them will return at about the same price as they played this year (if possibly a little more).
I’m certain Arison and Miami won’t mind spending a little more next year than they did this year, especially if it’s because they’re paying Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, David Lee, and the rest, who would easily be the favorites to win it all next year.
So, get ready for the upcoming offseason, people. It’s going to be chaotic. It’s going to be thrilling. It’s going to be absolute insanity. However, when the dust settles, I truly believe Pat Riley, Mickey Arison, and the Miami Heat will have built a dynasty that will make most others pale in comparison.
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