After dealing with the inconsistencies of Jermain O'Neal for the past season and a half, the Miami Heat are finally free of his $21 million deal. The Heat are now on the market for a starting center, hopefully, this doesn't include the signing of another PF to play center. The Heat organization has to look at the bigger picture,and that being, size matters. Just ask the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. Miami needs a 7'0" that will focus on controlling the paint on the defensive end. His offense shouldn't be that important because the Heat with Wade, Beasley and whoever they sign with their cap space, should be more than enough.
Getting a good player at this position will be as difficult a task as any for the Heat this off-season. The center position, historically, is usually hard to find a good to great player. The Free Agent pool isn't even knee deep with talent, at least not with anyone that would be a better fit than either O'Neal (Shaq and Jermaine )... I know, scary thought. However, the Heat does have some decent options in acquiring a player that can play the position for the next three to five years. If Miami is gonna have any chance at landing a starting center, they'll in all likelihood, have to do it through a trade.
TOP 10 OPTIONS FOR THE HEAT
Kris Kaman, Kyrylo Fresenko , Brendan Haywood , Joel Pryzbilla, Hasheem Thabeet, Darko Milicic , Al Jefferson, Kwame Brown , Spencer Hawes and Tyson Chandler.
Option One is my favorite, trade for Kris Kaman (29-years-old, 7'0" and 260lbs. ) The Clippers have 33 million tied into just five players next season (Davis, Kaman, Griffin, Gordon and Jordan.) Being that they have the eighth pick, in a draft laced with talented bigs, they might be willing to move Kaman and his $11 million contract. It's either him or DeAndre Jordan (center of the future.) They need to move Kaman because they only have about $10 million to fill out the rest of their roster. All the Heat would need to do is offer up two second round draft picks and maybe a future first round pick.
Option Two is probably the easiest, signing restricted free agent, Kyrylo Fesenko (23-years-old, 7'1" and 300lbs. ) The second year player had a brilliant showing in the playoffs and has as big a up-side as any free agent center this summer. He's still a project but he understands enough about rebounding, defending and passing out of the post to be a good starting center for years to come. The Heat would simply need to offer him upwards of $3 million in a four year deal and that would be enough to land the restricted free agent. The Jazz don't have much cap room and need to sign, SG, Wesley Matthews. They'll be more likely to use their ninth pick in the draft to go after another young center.
Option Three is probably the most logical rout to take, signing free agent, Brendan Haywood (30-years-old, 7'1" and 265lbs. ) Brendan is currently the second best option on the market (behind David Lee, a natural PF.) He earned just six million dollars last season and might want a increase this season. The way the Heat might luck up is, only seven teams are looking for a starting center outside of Miami (NYK, DET, HOU, SAS, SAC, MIN and DEN,) the Heat simply need to put a three-year-deal on the table at a six to seven million dollars a year, and it would be a done deal.
Option Four is one that they probably aren't even considering, trading for Joel Przybilla (30-years-old, 7'1" and 255lbs .) The Blazers inked Marcus Camby to an extension at the end of this past season and currently have Greg Oden signed for two more seasons. It makes no sense for them to keep Przybilla and his near eight million dollar contract. The good thing about the deal, is, it would come off the books after this up-coming season. If he has a great season, the Heat would hold his Bird Rights. The Heat simply need to offer up two of their second round draft picks and the Blazers would jump off the table.
Top remaining players that the Heat can sign through free agency: David Lee, Darko Milicic, Drew Gooden, Jermaine O'Neal, Kwame Brown and Patric O'Bryant.
Top remaining players the Heat can acquire through a trade: Hasheem Thabeet, Spencer Hawes, Tyson Chandler and Al Jefferson.
The Heat are in a good position to get a good center, they simply need to think outside the box. I have little doubt that the Heat will use it's 18th pick in this draft on, Solomon Alabi , the 7'1" and 255lb center from Florida State. But should they somehow pass on a center, Pat better have a plan and reason why.
Pat Riley is favored throughout the NBA for his character and what he has done for the NBA brand. It's time he got on the ball and started making moves he should have already thought of. Anyway, here's to hoping the Heat lands a seven footer that will crash the boards and clog up the lane.