2012 NBA Free Agency: 5 Big Men Miami Heat Must Target This Offseason
There is still that gaping hole with the Miami Heat that must be addressed.
The fact that they are advancing in the playoffs does not shelter Miami from the necessity of a stronger low-post presence. Chris Bosh cannot consistently be the replacement for a center when he is just not built for the job.
Even if Miami manages to win the NBA championship, this offseason will not be as quiet as their lack of movement in the offseason after the lockout.
The Heat have some issues to address for their ride to the top to become filled with fewer self-inflicted obstacles. Here are a few big men Miami must target this offseason to make their journey that much easier.
After missing New Orleans’ final five games due to a tibia injury, Chris Kaman will hit the free-agency market this summer and any team looking for a viable veteran big man will be interested.
Staying with the Hornets is not a likely option for Kaman to explore as they have already expressed continuous interest in moving the veteran center, inserting him in the starting lineup only at their convenience. The situation is less than stable, and the Hornets are a franchise who will never be sold on Kaman as a long-term option.
Miami needs a solid scoring center as well as a consistent inside rebounding force.
Kaman is both of those things and would add another offensive option to the consistent box scores of Miami's Big 3. Kaman, who has leveled off in potential, is in the last seasons of his career.
Going for him at this stage in his career, where Miami could offer him a solid starting job in the lineup of an obvious contending rotation, would be conducive to the strides the Heat plan to make in the 2012-13 season.
Spencer Hawes has emerged as one of the more dominant men at probably the toughest position in the league in the 2012 NBA Playoffs as Philadelphia’s starting center.
Hawes has just barely missed recording back-to-back double-doubles in Philly’s series against the Chicago Bulls, only pulling down eight and nine rebounds in Games 3 and 4, while scoring 20-plus in each Sixers victory.
Hawes has obviously had a stronger impact without Joakim Noah on the floor, but he has also had heightened minutes in both of these games.
Flashes of brilliance work in big men’s favor in the NBA. With Hawes showing these spurts of potential, his free agency stock could rise immensely, especially for contending teams missing that low-post scoring presence.
Let’s not take his performances for more than what they’re worth. Hawes is not the second coming of Dwight Howard or any other center worth an extravagant multi-million dollar contract. However, as a role player, more skilled offensively than either of the men Miami boasts as center right now, Hawes could be consistently productive.
Roy Hibbert has not been the most consistent offensive force for the Indiana Pacers this season, but his defense is virtually infallible.
With 17 blocks in the Orlando series by Game 5’s tipoff, Hibbert has been the strongest force greeting Glen “Big Baby” Davis around the rim. Davis, who has become Orlando’s best option in the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, has been worn down and challenged by Hibbert night in and out.
Hibbert has been able to focus on his game defensively because of how David West has been scoring at power forward, and that is the same situation he could walk directly into with the Miami Heat.
While the Heat could use a scoring center in the low post, Hibbert is one of the better low-post defenders in the game. Miami is one of the best defensive-minded franchises in the league, with LeBron James taking on the responsibility of guarding every position.
Think about how elevated LBJ’s game could become if his defense is not so far spread out due to the lack thereof around the rim.
At this stage of development in Hibbert’s career, at the young age of 25, the young center is learning to focus more on rebounding and defense rather than developing that shooter’s mentality that a few of the big men around the league try their hand at.
Miami could use some help rebounding and that defensive edge Hibbert would provide.
In OKC, Nazr Mohammed has drawn the short straw of the bunch as he has seen very little playing time in the quick series against the Dallas Mavericks. Mohammed had been left out of the rotation because of the fact that the Mavericks went with a smaller lineup throughout the series.
The talent pool for big men in Oklahoma City is so vast that it is hard to please everyone on the roster.
Mohammed just was not required until Kendrick Perkins went down with a strained right hip.
Against the Los Angeles Lakers, who it is assumed the Thunder will face in the next round, he will probably make his way back into the active lineup.
What can he do for the Miami Heat?
At this point, any fully functional center will be better than either Joel Anthony or Ronny Turiaf, both of whom have not lived up to expectations in the Miami franchise. The Heat normally play small, but only because it’s the better option.
A lot of teams on the rise in the league have a size advantage over Miami in matchups and normally use it to their advantage.
The Heat, with the exception of the Big 3, are bullied around the rim more than often. Their speed and athleticism works primarily, but Mohammed would give Miami a bit more body in the low post than they have now.
In a perfect world, the New Jersey Nets would be able to retain the services of Deron Williams and sign both Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries to long-term contracts.
Williams is New Jersey’s first priority, one that will probably turn up fruitless. However, both Wallace and Humphries are still likely going to want those long-term contracts with lots of zeroes attached to them.
Lopez’s injuries have devalued him as far as delegated money is concerned, but has not devalued his influence on the tide of a game. A healthy Lopez is still highly coveted.
Miami has a lot of use for a healthy Lopez.
Lopez is a very good offensive player, but no one ever speaks that highly of his ability to be a stark defender. Even at 100 percent health, Lopez is not one of the best defenders in the league. Still, his presence makes an impact that fans rarely notice. Devin Kharpertian at Nets Are Burning offers a few statistics that illustrate this very principle:
"Last season, opponents attempted 27.3 shots per game in the restricted area against the Nets. This year, that number jumped to 29.8, and the Nets became worse at defending it by about 2 percent. That’s an extra 3.5 points per game and four points of defensive efficiency given up on field goals at the rim alone."
Couple this with his offensive capabilities and Lopez becomes an instant impact player for Miami at a discounted rate.