Since we’re just past the midway mark of the 2010-11 NBA regular season, I realize it’s pointless to be looking ahead into the summer of 2011. However, I am going to anyway because it’s fun and I feel like it.
With the Heat over the cap for the foreseeable future, their ability to acquire players via free agency will be limited. There is some major uncertainty because the current CBA expires after this season. There might not even be a midlevel exception anymore, which would be a major blow to a front-loaded Heat team lacking depth.
Let’s take a look at some intriguing centers and point guards who will likely be available, since those are their two weakest spots. These are players that will theoretically fit financially and strategically on Miami’s roster.(TO – Team Option, UFA – Unrestricted Free Agent, ETO – player Early Termination Options)
The Best Fit: Chauncey Billups (TO) - With a team option at 14.2 million for next season, the 34-year-old Billups might be looking for employment outside of Denver. If he has a strong desire for championships, warmth and bikini-clad babes year-round, Miami could be appealing. He is the Heat’s ideal point guard. He can shoot, defend and has plenty of big-game experience. It would be a match made in heaven.
Mr. Intrigue: J.R. Smith (UFA) – It’s hard not to like Smith, who has had a tendency of torching the Heat in the past. He’s not a true point guard, but should that even matter? This freak of an athlete is equipped with a sweet long-range jumper and swagger that makes you think of the old school Miami Hurricanes. The only way the Heat could get him is if there is still a midlevel acception and Smith values winning more than max dollars. Also, would he buy into Spoelstra’s emphasis on defense?
Farfetched: Shannon Brown (ETO) – Brown is essentially a way more athletic Mario Chalmers, who can finish with the best of them. He’d be a decent upgrade over what they have, but with Derek Fisher approaching extinction and Steve Blake struggling, the Lakers may be forced to tie him up.
The Best Fit: Sam Dalembert (UFA) – He has career averages of 8.2 rebounds and 1.93 blocks, so he clearly would help Miami’s smorgasbord of centers. He might be attainable for the midlevel, if there is one. Sam would be a sensational fit. He’d take the Heat defense from elite to out of this world and he’s underrated offensively.
Mr. Intrigue: Greg Oden (RFA) – The greatest center to never play. Big Greg has already missed two full seasons in his short four-year career and most of a third. He’d be the ultimate risk/reward player. He’s been excellent away from the surgical table, but does it matter at this point? I think the issue with him is he really isn’t 23 and he’s actually 43. Maybe his mom couldn’t count. And maybe they should name a wing after him in a Portland hospital.
Farfetched: Yao Ming (UFA) - It would be awesome and absolutely worth the risk. Can you imagine a healthy (keyword) Yao with LeBron, Wade and Bosh? I think I just peed myself. However, Michael Jordan has a better chance of coming out of retirement than Yao coming to South Beach.