Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Miami Heat, what to do, what to do?

Bookmark and ShareI know it's been a while, but I am in the mood to rekindle the PCL blog...

This is a weird time in Heat history. Usually Pat Riley has things in total control or at least he makes it seem like he's in control. This is the first time in his tenure that I can remember this to not be the case.

The 2010 plan. We've been hearing about this for years, basically since Dwyane Wade decided to sign only a 3 year contract instead of a lengthier one after the 2007 season. He seemingly coordinated his free agency to coincide with LeBron James' and Chris Bosh's exit years. Riley constructed Shaquille O'Neal's extension to expire this year, to maximize potential cap space.

The pipe dream, in Riley's mind anyway, I bet, has been Lebron. I think he thinks he has a .001% chance for Lebron and doesn't want to squander that opportunity.

Chris Bosh has been the name most Heat fans have been hearing about for the longest time. For several reasons, namely Toronto has rarely, if ever, kept a high profile player - whether it be Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, or... (ok, those are the only two really notable home grown Raptors players I can remember).. but the point is it is hard for Toronto, who have always been mediocre at best, to keep players because of the taxes they have to pay in Canada as well as the distance most players are from home.

Bosh also has been seen as a good second banana, someone who would be willing to defer to Wade as a primary option. Bosh also could conceivably play forward or center in the east. The problem is, with Toronto signing Hedo Turkoglu to a large contract, it looks like Toronto is going all-in this season. They are trying to make the playoffs and convince Bosh to stay. Despite the taxes in Canada, the Raps can offer more dollars and an extra year than any other team if Bosh becomes a free agent. It seems unlikely, unless the Raptors absolutely fail this season and Bosh demands a trade and tells them they have no chance in re-signing him that they will deal him. Even if that happens, other teams can get the chance to beat the best offer the Heat would make (at best an offer of Michael Beasley, filler players and draft picks).

I've always felt that the improvement will come from a trade for a disgruntled superstar, ala the Celtics getting Kevin Garnett or the Heat getting Shaq, not convincing a Bosh level player to leave his current team for South Beach. The Heat has many expiring contracts to entice a team in salary cap hell to sell off a superstar for the chance to start over. I've thought that the mercurial Amare Stoudamire of the Phoenix Suns would be the logical choice to pick up in a trade but the recent Carlos Boozer situation also falls in this vein and makes sense on multiple levels.

The Utah Jazz had their young workhouse forward Paul Millsap sign an offer sheet with the Portland Trailblazers. If they match the offer sheet, he will be getting starter money and duplicates what Boozer gives them. He is younger and still cheaper than Boozer. Boozer has been told they will trade him. Utah, not a wealthy team, is said to have to take out a bank loan to pay for the front loaded contract Portland offered Millsap. If they don't trade Boozer by the NBA trade deadline they will have to pay a luxury tax penalty, likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Boozer lives in Miami in the offseason, he is close to Dwyane Wade and close to the Arison family (owners of the Heat). Boozer went to Duke with Mr. Arison's son, who was team manager for the basketball team Boozer starred on, worked for Team USA with Wade and Boozer, and is now an executive with the Heat. While undersized, Boozer is a legit 20/10 guy who doesn't demand the ball and is a fantastic offensive rebounder. To me, he is not on the level of Bosh or a healthy Amare, but he also happens to be a) available b) eager to play in Miami and c) on an expiring contract, so if it doesn't work out, or if they get the chance to sign a better player, they can let him walk and no harm done.

Unlike Amare or Bosh, Boozer can't play center. I am not sure how he and Michael Beasley fit together on the same frontline. The Heat are trying to make Beasley a small forward now, a move that puzzles me. I believe in Beasley's future as a 20+ ppg scorer. I believe if he went #3 to the Grizzlies last draft, he'd have won the rookie of the year because he'd have jacked up as many shots as he could. I am not sure that future is in Miami. I admire his ability to score, but I just never got the vibe that he has that "x" factor to be a winning player in the league. His lax demeanor bugs the hell out of me. His lack of a true position bugs the hell out of me. I know I am being unfair, he is only 20 years old, he has to grow into manhood, yadda yadda. The problem is, he is not the type of player/personality that the Heat has ever had patience for. Dwyane Wade doesn't seem to like him much. The best options for the Heat to spend their cap space on are all power forwards which is probably why they are trying to make him a 3.

If they trade for a Boozer, or sign an Amare or Bosh, in my opinion, Beasley has to be traded for a true small forward who can defend, hit open shots, and play team ball. My ideal candidate is Caron Butler, but who knows if Washington will trade him. Another name available next season may be Josh Howard, now that Dallas has Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion. Memphis reportedly offered the #2 overall pick this past draft for Beasley; perhaps they'd be interested in trading Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol for him (less likely now that they traded for Zach Randolph).

Call me naive or pie-in-the-sky but I have no fear that Wade won't re-sign here. I just can't picture him going anywhere else. As I mentioned with Bosh, the Heat can offer Wade more money than anyone else. He won a title here, he became a superstar here, Riley has never settled for mediocrity. I can't see Wade leaving here to go play in New York. That team is moribund and even if it added Wade it has few other assets. How much more money can Wade possibly make in Madison Avenue endorsements? He already is a national figure. The NY media would put him under a microscope the same way they put A-Rod under one. Wade's posturing with Riley is just that-- posturing. He is trying to ensure the best outcomes, but Riley would be a fool to trade or add contracts like Toronto did with Turkoglu- because if Wade (god forbid) does leave, then you're stuck with mediocre players with bad contracts bogging you down.

This will be a loooooong season until we see how the plan unfolds, but I think patience will pay off.


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