If the Miami Heat were to prove anything last year, it's that they weren't the perfect team that everyone envisioned at the beginning of the season.
Their season-opening loss to the Boston Celtics and their NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks proved the vast importance of cohesion and learning how to play as teammates rather individuals, as well as the fact that this team needs to give the Big Three some support.
With Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem sidelined and hampered for the majority of the season due to injuries, the Heat would find themselves struggling at segments throughout the year. Their bench was inconsistent and the contribution and production from the point guard and center position was non-existent for the most part.
As a result of the inconsistencies of everyone outside of the Big Three, opposing defenses were allowed to focus more on them without having to worry about the threat of one of them passing out of a double team to an open man along the perimeter because of their tendency to miss those types of shots. Many thought that Miller would be able to solve that problem once he returned, but he may now be a casualty of the amnesty clause as a result of a hernia surgery that's set to sideline him for two months.
However, the Heat will get Haslem back and that means less minutes for Joel Anthony, Juwan Howard, and any other center that the team thought would be a suitable option in the frontcourt. Even with Haslem back, the Heat are still going to need to find help in free agency and they should look no further than these five players, that I will soon mention, to help lead them back to the NBA Finals and leave with an NBA title this team around.
While many would love to see Nene Hilario on the team, the fact is that he's going to be receiving much more lucrative offers from teams that have the money to blow on a center of Nene's caliber. Rather than having their focus on the Brazilian, the Heat need to keep their eye on Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalembert.
The Heat aren't asking for much in terms of a center. If you can catch a ball and finish quick enough before you can get blocked, play solid defense and provide resistance and grab rebounds, then you're suitable for the job. Nobody fits that description better than Dalembert who has already stated his interest in joining the Miami Heat as their starting center.
A stellar defender and shot blocker, Dalembert would be a huge asset to a Heat team that is in desperate need of finding a starting center.
Already receiving a lot of attention from teams that are looking for a veteran leader that can support the team with quality defense, Shane Battier could help fill the need that Mike Miller couldn't provide off the bench. The Heat lacked a suitable perimeter defender as well as a solid perimeter threat on offense last season and it hurt them because of opposing defenses then being allowed to focus on the members of the big three within the perimeter.
Battier would address both needs on offense and defense as he is a career 39 percent shooter from deep who has been relatively consistent with his three-point shot and mid-range game for the duration of his NBA tenure.
His defense will be the most desired aspect of his game, however, as Battier has always been looked at one of the NBA's most renowned defenders. His face defense—which requires an unbelievable deal of concentration since you're putting your arm in the middle of the opponents arms and then sticking your hand in their face—as well as his overall stellar team defense which would give perimeter defenders in James and Wade some time to rest on the defensive end.
Even if Grant Hill has missed only three games since the start of the 2008-'09 season, there is still a risk at signing a 39-year-old who dealt with a plethora of injuries during the prime of his career. Nevertheless, Hill is looking to secure an NBA title in the waning years of his NBA career and signing up to play on the Heat bench may just be what he has in mind.
Hill has played with the Phoenix Suns for the past four seasons and is actually coming off of one his better seasons last year when he averaged 13 points and four rebounds per. The former superstar who was expected to usurp Michael Jordan as the league's greatest has managed to stand the test of the time and can still somehow contribute at an efficient rate today.
On the Heat, Hill would be utilized as one of the teams mid-range and perimeter threats as well as one of its perimeter defenders off the bench.
It's no secret that T.J. Ford wants to join the Miami Heat and that he's miserable with the Indiana Pacers. It became obvious that Ford had grown disgruntled with the Pacers after a horrible season last year where he played in only 41 games and averaged career lows across the board including five points and three assists per off the bench.
Ford isn't a savior in anyway and he wouldn't even start with the Heat. However, Ford does provide the team with a solid back-up at the point as well as giving projected starter Mario Chalmers some competition which he has always seemed to respond well to.
Not receiving a great deal of attention from many suitors, Detroit Pistons small forward Tayshaun Prince may just end up a member of the Miami Heat if his current team doesn't re-sign him or if other teams don't pay enough attention to signing him.
Prince is just the exact kind of player the Heat need. They want to find a consistent and mature player that doesn't mind coming off the bench for a contender and they just may have found it in one of the league's most consistent players in Tayshaun. To put his consistency into perspective, take a look at his points per game average and you'll notice that he's posted up between 13 and 15 points per game for the past seven seasons.
Not only will the Heat get a solid mid-range and three-point threat, but they also get a terrific defender whose arms drag across the court and scrape the ceiling. Adding another perimeter defender to come off the bench is a huge priority for the Heat and they'll have a number of options to look at which includes Prince.