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It’s going to be difficult for Miami to get free agent help with not much salary cap room, especially if the next collective bargaining agreement creates a hard cap, but they’ll land a couple veteran players who’ll take less money for the chance to win a title. The Heat's biggest needs are at point guard and center. Mario Chalmers has been offered a contract and it’d be stupid for him to leave a perennial contender, unless another team’s willing to shell out a lot more money. It’s likely they’re not bringing back Mike Bibby, so someone to start in front of or backup the former Kansas hero is a must (assuming Chalmers stays).
Expected point guard targets (in order of most to least sought-after): Aaron Brooks, J.J. Barea, T.J. Ford, Acie Law and Earl Watson. Pat Riley’s probably salivating at the possibility of adding Brooks—a three-point shooter with very good speed and quickness—but will probably have to settle for Ford, Law or Watson, who would each be a good pick up. If the Mavericks let Barea go, Miami’s got a great chance to get him (depending on how much money he’s willing to turn down from another team with more cap space, like the Knicks).
Miami would also love to add a big body to the roster, especially if it’ll bolster the center position. Joel Anthony was solid last year on defense but consistently inept on offense, allowing opposing defenses to play five-on-four. The Heat can win a championship without upgrading, but would be more comfortable not having to play guys like Juwan Howard, Jamaal Magloire, Eric Dampier or Zydrunas Ilgauskas (each of whom may not even be on the roster next season).
Expected big man targets (in order of most to least sought-after): Samuel Dalembert, Kenyon Martin, Aaron Gray, Kwame Brown and Eddy Curry. K-Mart could be solid—if he stays healthy and accepts a pay cut—because of his energy, rebounding and mid-range jumper. Gray could provide Miami with a 7-footer who’d finish better around the rim than Anthony and is an underrated passer. Brown picked up his level of play towards the end of last season and could bring solid defense and rebounding. Curry would probably be used to simply fill up five to 10 minutes a game and provide six fouls against a top-tier big man like Dwight Howard, Al Horford or Andrew Bynum.
If Miami gets its first choice in Dalembert, his shot blocking ability will allow the Heat to easily lead the league in both fast break points and steals per game. Miller, Chalmers, James and Wade could play aggressive perimeter defense and cheat on passing lanes like never before. The one-two punch at center of Dalembert and Anthony would take the NBA’s No. 1 defense from last season to another level.
While Dalembert’s a target of numerous teams, and would likely get more money going somewhere else, Miami’s Haitian population could sway the 30-year-old center into taking his talents to South Beach. Not to mention the relatively close proximity of Port-au-Prince, his native country’s capital (the average flight time is just less than two hours). Dalembert has dedicated so much to help the impoverished nation—even flying back and forth from Philadelphia between games last January to assist with relief efforts after a devastating earthquake killed and injured more than 300,000 people and displaced nearly two million. His presence would give the NBA’s most hated team someone to cheer for, and he could use the spotlight to raise awareness that Haiti’s still suffering from the catastrophe 18 months later.
Miami has some very alluring features for free agents: a young core of superstars who’ll compete for championships over the next few years, a beautiful city in a warm climate and a vibrant nightlife. While there are turnoffs—the worst fans in the NBA, little cap room, a gargantuan media spotlight and an unruly police force—it’d be hard for a veteran player to turn down an opportunity to win of this magnitude.
It's not far-fetched to think guys like Grant Hill or Tracy McGrady haven't already thought about joining.