Despite finishing off the regular season with a 58-24 record and ending up only two wins away from an NBA Championship, the Miami Heat still had their fair share of flaws that plagued them throughout the season with the problems at center being the most notable.
In total, the Heat used eight different players to man the fort down low. Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Dexter Pittman, Jamaal Magloire, Erick Dampier and Joel Anthony all took turns and not one player could do the job in a way that convinced the coaching staff that they were in good hands.
Each center was either too small, too slow or too offensively challenged to play at the 5-spot and it hurt the Heat when they were forced to start the 6'9" Anthony at the center position for the duration of the postseason. No team has ever won with a starter that averaged one point per game and that streak lived on after the Heat fell to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.
With Ilgauskas' retirement and Magloire and Dampier possibly on the way out, the Heat are left with Dexter Pittman and Joel Anthony as their only centers. That is a cry for help and Miami will have to look into either making a trade or sifting through the 2011 free agents in order to come out with the player that they so desperately need.
Maybe they can give these five centers a try.
One of the most desired free agents for the Miami Heat, current Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalembert most recently made a statement claiming that he could, "...fill that role and be an asset for that team", when speaking of the team and the vacancy at the center position while comparing them to how the Dallas Mavericks thrived with Tyson Chandler as their big man.
After spending the first eight years of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Dalembert was sent to the Kings where he would average eight points, eight rebounds and nearly two blocks per in what could be his only season with Sacramento. Dalembert has always been known as a renowned defender and shot-blocker and those two attributes are exactly what the Heat need to get to the next level.
With 50 relatives living in the South Florida area, a starting job awaiting and his native Haiti only a few miles away, Dalembert could be the first free agent to be signed by the Heat.
This acquisition is going to be a little tougher solely because of how much money Nene Hilario is expected to command as the top center, and player overall, in the free-agency class. Hilario already has a number of suitors awaiting for his decision, but he has made it clear that Dallas and Miami may be his primary destinations after word came in that he reportedly wanted out of Denver.
At 29 years old, Hilario will already be entering his 10th season which might just happen to be his first not in a Denver Nuggets uniform. He has always been known as a solid post presence and received a great deal of attention last year when he took over leadership duties for the Nuggets following the departure of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.
The only way Hilario joins the Heat is via sign-and-trade which is going to be difficult for the team when considering that they gave up a lot of draft picks for LeBron James and Chris Bosh and don't exactly have the pieces to offer in return. However, if the Heat do follow through by using their amnesty clause on Mike Miller, they'll have $30 million free which could be spent on Nene.
If those two centers take their talents elsewhere, there will always be Kwame Brown who is coming off of one of the best seasons of his abysmal career. Brown averaged eight points and seven rebounds per game in his first season with the Charlotte Bobcats and actually showed off some physicality down low and something near an offensive game as he averaged the most points per game that he has registered since 2007.
The Heat aren't asking for much when it comes to a center. All they want is a big man that can play some defense in the middle, rebound and score on the wide open opportunities that the Big Three provide due to the attention that they receive. Brown isn't much of a center, but he's capable of throwing around his 6'11", 270-pound frame and deterring opposing drivers from the basket.
This isn't the Eddy Curry of the New York Knicks. This Eddy Curry has actually shown signs of commitment as he has reportedly dropped 50 pounds since participating in a workout with the Miami Heat last March. He came into the workout weighing 350 pounds, but was said to be at 300 pounds in the middle of August which essentially means that he's ready to be signed by the Heat or any other team desperate enough to sign him.
Curry won't be NBA-ready of course, considering that he's only played in 10 games since 2008, but that should be fine for the Heat who already have three players doing the majority of the work. Curry would be able to take as long as he wants to get back into the competitive spirit and it shouldn't take too long to see just how committed he is to returning to the NBA.
Don't forget that it was only in 2007 when Curry was averaging 20 points and seven boards per.
Flying under just about every team's radar is Serbian-born center Nenad Krstic who is coming off of a season where he spent time with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics where he averaged eight points and five boards per. Krstic has failed to match the production that he had in his first few years in the league with the New Jersey Nets, but he does fit the profile of being tall and being able to contribute on offense.
Krstic does have his downsides, he can't rebound or defend too well, but he could be a cheap option for a Heat team that's not looking to spend too much money. Much like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Krstic can stretch the offense thanks to his mid-range game but can actually consistently hit the shot unlike Ilgauskas, who was taken out of the starting lineup last season after suddenly losing his jump shot.
He's averaged 10 points and five boards for his career and would be a good fit on a Heat team that could use the offensive help from the 5-spot.