As we draw near to the eagerly anticipated date of July 1, the speculation about where the "Big Three" free agents has grown louder.
That would obviously be a fantastic trio. But since you need thirteen players on your roster, and you need other people who can help your stars, even if you have three of the best players in the league, it begs the question, who else will play with them?
The Heat will not have cap-room left if they sign the big three, but will have a few options available. They can spend the mid-level exception (about $5.8 mil the first year and increases each year) the bi-annual exception (about $1.9 mil the first year, and a slight increase in year two) and can sign as many players as desired to the veteran's minimum as well. They can also sign their second round draft picks.
Here are some players that could have a symbiotic relationship with the Heat at each position. While most could make more money elsewhere, joining Miami would give them a good chance at a title. For the sake of the article, we will assume that Michael Beasley gets traded for something insignificant.
Udonis Haslem ($4 mil and increasing): Haslem could probably make the full mid-level somewhere else, but it would probably be worth staying with his hometown Heat, who were the only team to take a chance on him, and have the opportunity to win another title, to take a pay-cut. Haslem would in turn continue to provide solid role-play and a good backup. He is also beloved in Miami and I think provides some help with the intangibles.
Jermaine O'Neal ($1.8 mil and increasing): While many teams need a center and could look at O'Neal, this may be Jermaine's last chance at winning a title and staying with Miami might be the best choice. He could get what's left of the mid-level after Haslem is signed. Jermaine can provide the rebounding help Bosh will need, a shot-blocker and solid post presence and probably about ten points-per-game.
Joel Anthony ($2 mil/year): The Heat have the rights to re-sign Anthony and can wait until after they're done making big moves to do so. Anthony can't seem to catch passes, but he can provide shot-blocking and energy off the bench, and with Bosh, Haslem and O'Neal in the lineup, Anthony won't need to play much.
Dexter Pittmann/Shavlik Randolph/Jason Collins (vet's min): Big men seem to get injured, so every team should have at least six of them for insurance. All these guys could be signed late in free agency.
Some other options: Brad Miller, Tim Thomas, Juwan Howard, Ben Wallace, Josh Powell
Shooting Guard/Small Forward:
Jerry Stackhouse (Vet's min): Stackhouse is probably about ready to win a title towards the end of his career, and showed last year that he can still contribute. He wouldn't get a whole lot of playing time with Wade and James in, but he could still make a solid contribution.
Raja Bell (bi-annual exception): Bell has made it clear that Miami is his first choice, even without any guarantee James or Bosh will join. Bell would be a great pickup, and could play behind Wade and alongside him.
Michael Finley (vet's min): Finley could play some spot minutes while getting a good chance at another title. His veteran presence could also be pretty helpful with the amount of ego Miami would have to deal with.
More options: Quentin Richardson, Damien Wilkens, Sasha Pavlovic, Devean George, Tracy McGrady (and many, many more)
With Dwayne Wade and LeBron James' ballhandling ability, point guard becomes not as much of a priority. It still helps to have a good floor general who can shoot and defend though.
Mario Chalmers: Chalmers is the lone Heat player other than Beasley under contract next season. Miami spent much of the season trying to find an upgrade here, but it shouldn't be as much of a problem with the big three here. He can shoot threes and defend, while occasionally handling the ball, and they wouldn't need much more than that.
Carlos Arroyo (vet's min): Arroyo was pretty solid for Miami this season and would be a solid candidate for an encore.
Travis Diener (vet's min): Diener has had trouble finding a place in the league. He doesn't do much, either good or bad. He is however, a great three-point shooter who doesn't get a lot of turnovers, and that could be just what the big three need.
Jason Williams (vet's min): Williams is supposedly interested in making a return to Miami. If he is willing to take the minimum again, he would be a great addition.
More options: Anthony Carter, Eddie House, Anthony Johnson, Marcus Williams
I think any Miami fan would be happy to face the NBA season with this unit:
C Jermaine O'Neal
PF: Chris Bosh
SF: LeBron James
SG: Dwayne Wade
PG: Mario Chalmers
To go along with the rest of the players they would bring in to fill the roster.
Not what the rest of the Eastern Conference wants to see...