Just about the only certainty during this NBA offseason was that if the Miami Heat signed LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, they'd have to complete their roster with veteran players willing to play for minimum salary. Now that the trio have all signed with the Heat, it's time for Pat Riley and company to find the right players to play with the Miami Thrice.
I just read a good article by the Heat's Featured Columnist James Wong , who listed several players that may join the Heat. However, let me do my best Chris Broussard impression, and speculate like it's my day job (since there hasn't been enough speculation during this free agency period) by throwing out another name into the mix.
How about Wally Szczerbiak?
I actually got the idea that Szczerbiak may be a good fit for the Heat today, when I bumped into him. We both live near each other on Long Island, and we are both members at the New York Sports Club. While I was at the gym lifting an exorbitant amount of weight, Wally was there too, doing his typical core-building and basketball related exercises.
Last year, when Szczerbiak was rehabbing his knee surgery, I saw him at NYSC a lot. However, I hadn't seen him this year, until today. In my eyes, he looked like he was in good/basketball-ready shape (read he's in better shape than me). While I don't know if he is trying to make a comeback or not, seeing him at the gym made me realize that he would be a good fit for the Heat.
Granted, the thirty three year-old Szczerbiak is a bit past his prime, he does have a lot of things going for him that increase his value as a free agent.
He is a twelve year veteran, with seven seasons of playoff experience, including thirteen playoff starts with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008. His experience is valuable for a team that is undoubtedly going to make the playoffs next season.
Yet, I think the best thing that Szczerbiak has going for him is that he has played with LeBron James before.
It is wrong to undervalue the important of team chemistry in the game of basketball, especially on a team where none of the players have played together before. For the Heat, chemistry is one of the biggest question marks going forward. However, Szczerbiak, even as a role player, can act as an adhesive for this team, given his past relationship with the Heat's newest star LeBron.
Some of the most talked about free agents whom the Heat are looking at are Eddie House, Brad Miller and Mike Miller. While all three of these players may be better at this point than Szczerbiak, none of them have ever played with James, Wade or Bosh.
I know that Szczerbiak has some things working against him, which may make Miller or another player more appealing. He missed all of the 2009-2010 season after having knee surgery; he turned down a contract offer from the Denver Nuggets worth the league's veteran minimum, and a try out with the New York Knicks fell through. He also is not the player now that he used to be earlier in his career.
But, with the Miami Heat as talented as they are now, they shouldn't be looking for the most talented free agents. Rather, they need veterans with good experience that are willing to be role players, and will add to the Heat's team chemistry and really bring this team together. I think Szczerbiak fits that mold.
Admittedly, I don't know if Szczerbiak is ready or willing to make an NBA comeback, and I don't know how interested the Heat are in signing him. But as cool as I think it is that I work out in the same gym as Wally Szczerbiak, I think it would be even better for Szczerbiak and the Heat that they sign him.
Will the Heat look to sign Szczerbiak? That remains to be seen. But at least the idea is more fuel for thought.
And by the way, Wally if you're reading this, I was the kid in the green Under Armour shirt with incredibly bad bed-head, working out my back and biceps. Next time I see you I'll make sure to say what's up, and you can give me the inside scoop for my next Bleacher Report article.
Until then, just more and more speculation.