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Exploring Heat's offseason options; Finals fallout; Best of worst said about Heat; Fins, Marlins

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

 

The most pertinent question of this Heat offseason: What can $3.1 million get you? It landed Miami a pretty significant piece last December, with Shane Battier’s signing looking much smarter today than two months ago.

Beyond trades, the only avenues for the Heat to improve are the $3.1 million mini-mid level exception given to tax-paying teams, veteran’s minimum contracts topping $1 million and the 27th pick in Thursday’s draft.

If Mike Miller is ruled out for next season after back surgery (which remains to be seen), the Heat could apply for a $2.9 million disabled player's exception, as well. (Houston was awarded one for Yao Ming and Portland for Greg Oden in the past couple years.)

The Heat will be judicious with the exception because it will be at least $7 million over the luxury tax threshold, with the tax becoming more onerous in 2013-14. The hope would be to find a quality player – such as Steve Nash, Lamar Odom or Ray Allen – willing to settle for less to play here.

If Miller, who’s due $5.8 million next season, retires or is amnestied,  the tax would be less of an immediate concern. A look at Miami’s options entering free agency July 1:

### Power rotation: Miami doesn’t have a strong chance of finding a center good enough to warrant moving Chris Bosh back to power forward, and the Heat is comfortable with keeping Bosh at center.

Perhaps the only affordable, somewhat appealing center option would be Kwame Brown, who got $7 million from Golden State last December but played just nine games before tearing his pectoral muscle while defending Udonis Haslem. He averaged 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds for Charlotte two years ago and his price tag will be lower off injury.

The Heat is in no position to land free agents Kevin Garnett, Marcus Camby (insists he wants to stay in Houston), Tim Duncan (will stay with the Spurs), Chris Kaman or Spencer Hawes, or probably even Jordan Hill or Ian Mahinmi.

All that’s left are cheap backup types:Aaron Gray, Jermaine O'Neal, Jason Collins, Nazr Mohammed, Daniel Orton, Joel Pryzbilla, undersized Boris Diaw. None are better than what Miami already has.

Here’s a better option: Leave Bosh at center and add a rotation-worthy power forward to supplement Haslem and Battier, who proved he can play either forward spot.

Odom, 32, would be appealing if both he and the Mavericks agree to a buyout, as expected; he averaged 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds for the Lakers in 2010-11. Odom always has liked the Heat, even after being traded, but reportedly prefers a return to Los Angeles – with either the Clippers or the Lakers (who could not re-sign him until Dec. 11, per NBA rules). And it’s questionable if he would settle for $3 million.

Also worth exploring would be a $3.2 million bid to Cavaliers power forward Antawn Jamison (17.2 points, 6.3 rebounds), though he presumably will command more elsewhere, even at age 36.

If Odom or Jamison don’t materialize here (and the odds are against both), it would make sense to use the $3.2 million exception on a bench scorer who can back up Dwyane Wade or play with Wade at times - perhaps Allen or Jamal Crawford.

Under that scenario, Miami then could address the power rotation by adding a power forward at the veteran’s minimum from the likes of Reggie Evans, Shelden Williams and Kenyon Martin.

Forget the top restricted free agent big men: Roy Hibbert, Omer Asik, Javale McGee, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez and Marreese Speights. All are out of Miami’s price range. The Heat is aware of Greg Oden’s interest, but he might sit out next season while getting healthy.

### Point guard: The Heat is expected to be among several teams that will at least place a call inquiring about Nash, who averaged 10.7 assists (second in the league) and led all NBA guards by shooting 53.2. Though Nash has publicly expressed interest in Miami, it would be surprising if he takes $3 million; the Suns reportedly plan to offer $10 million a year. A Canadian report Friday listed Phoenix, Portland and Toronto as front-runners.

“I’m considering everything at the moment,” Nash told Slam Magazine a week ago. “I would love to win a championship, yes. But I’m not one of those people who believe I must win one to have a fulfilling career. So other factors such as salary, family, playing time, and opportunity for team success also factor in.”

Unless Nash signs here, Miami likely would stick with Mario Chalmers starting and Norris Cole backing up, though several veterans will be available for modest money (Jason Kidd, Kirk Hinrich, Keyon Dooling, Derek Fisher). Deron Williams, Raymond Felton, Andre Miller and Goran Dragic are too expensive, and Chauncey Billups reportedly wants to stay with the Clippers.

### Small forwards or shooting guards: Guards Allen, 36, and Crawford, 32, reportedly have interest in Miami, but it’s debatable whether either - or Jason Terry, 34, or Grant Hill, 39, for that matter - would take the mini-mid level. Allen might be most likely of those four to accept $3 million. Don’t rule out Brandon Roy, who is 27, has a 19.9 career scoring average, and is planning a comeback after retiring before last season with knee problems.

The need for a bench scorer who can back up Wade will become even greater if Miller doesn’t return.

Other options: Gerald Green, Randy Foye, Mickael Pietrus, Marquis Daniels, Anthony Parker, Matt Barnes, Von Wafer and Michael Redd. Nick Young, Marco Belinelli and Carlos Delfino probably would be too pricey.

### Juwan Howard and Eddy Curry are the Heat’s free agents, and Terrel Harris is a restricted free agent. The Heat has a team option on Dexter PittmanRonny Turiaf must decide whether to exercise a $1.2 million player option.

MORE HEAT CHATTER

### After meeting with doctors, Wade will decide in the next week or so whether to have knee surgery and miss the Olympics.

### The admiration for LeBron James was evident on Twitter Friday. “Great year for LeBron – comes out a winner on all counts,” Minnesota’s Kevin Love tweeted. “LeBron James [equals] NBA champion. I wonder if this will set in for Skip Bayless.”… Tweeted Metta World Peace: “LeBron is playing exactly how any superstar should – unselfish [and] together.”

### Yankees star Alex Rodriguez said, “I was very happy for [LeBron] and I know he’s going to take a deep breath now and really enjoy the rest of his career. We probably haven’t seen the best of him and I think we will now.”

### As Oklahoma City players met with the media for a final time Saturday, Kevin Durant admitted crying after Game 5 and said, “I’m not ashamed of it. If you put that much into it, you’re allowed to cry.” Asked if he could see himself and LeBron having a Bird/Magic type rivalry, he said: “Well, I hope so. I would enjoy that.”

### Meanwhile, Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Saturday: “LeBron, it wasn’t natural what you were seeing on the court. He was at a special level that I’ve never seen before.” Classy move from Brooks to tell his players in a late-game huddle that Miami beat them “fair and square” and that he expected them to to shake Heat players’ hands afterward.

### James closed these Finals with 14 points (4 for 7 from the field) in clutch situations using the NBA’s statistical definition (final five minutes of games with a margin of five or fewer). In last year’s Finals, he shot 0 for 7 in clutch moments, with no points and no free throw attempts.... James will appear on David Letterman's show on CBS Tuesday night.

### While Heat players were spending more than $200,000 at Club LIV after winning the title, Pat Riley had a quiet dinner at Prime 112, where he received a standing ovation when he walked in at 2:45 a.m. and was approached with congratulations from Charles Oakley and Tim Hardaway. Also at Prime that night: Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka, sitting silently at a corner table (which he requested) and looking miserable.

CHATTER

### Rip job of the week: Former Jets defensive lineman Kris Jenkins, now a New York-area broadcaster, on Sirius XM Radio: “Chad Ochocinco is all about self. I don’t think [his act] has any positive place in football. It’s really in his best interests to stick to reality TV, instead of possibly weighing a team down because he wants to go out there and be pretty. It is definitely going to be to the detriment of the Miami Dolphins. They don’t have the type of talent to get things done.”

### But Ochocinco was impressive at minicamp last week. Roberto Wallace and Julius Pruitt appeared to be the best of the receivers battling behind Ochocinco, Brian Hartline, Davone Bess and Legedu Naanee.

### Dolphins safety Reshad Jones – who has emerged as a heavy favorite to start - says he has no grudge against Jake Long, who tore into him in front of everybody last week when Jones made contact with David Garrard on a blitz at minicamp (a no-no), and Long ran on the field shouting: “Reshad, don’t [expletive] touch the quarterback, [expletive] hole.”

Jones cursed back and explained later: “When coaches tell me to let off, that’s when I will. Jake was just mad because I had a sack on him.”

### The Marlins are looking to trade for outfield help but do not want to take on a lot of payroll. Among others, they are open to trading first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who has hit just .208 since last year’s All-Star break, but his value has plummeted.

### FIU is closing in on a raise (from $550,000) and extension (through 2016) for Mario Cristobal, who rejected offseason overtures from Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Houston and Southern Mississippi.

Note: For an amusing look back at some of the best of the worst, so to speak, that was said about the Heat this season, see our last post.  

Comments

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Penguin

Thank you, Mr. Durant, for letting the world (most particularly children) know that a tough athlete can also be emotional.

Allan

Ray Allen off the bench would be sweet.

Heat Fan

Maybe someone can explain to me why Serge Ibaka would go to Prime 112 for dinner after getting his tail kicked a couple hours earlier. That just makes no sense. I would go back to my hotel, order some pizzas and just want to be alone....last thing I would want is to be seen in public having dinner by myself at Prime 112. And by the way, since when is that spot open at 2:45 a.m. serving dinner...who the heck has dinner at 2:45 a.m. anyway? Lord knows there isn't anything open at 2:45 a.m. for dinner besides Denny's and IHOP. A nice restaurant would be a dream.

TommyL

Prime 112 stayed open very late the night the Heat won the title because it was expecting a crowd from the game.

Juan

Like the idea of Odom, Bosh, LeBron frontcourt. But I think Odom goes to the Clips.

Marino

Jake Long needs to shut his mouth and start playing up to his potential.

STUNT

Kris who?

Aaron

The Heat don't need no head job busters like Odom on the team. After what he did in Dallas, he is officially tainted in my book. I like Ray Allen, Brandon Roy or Steve Nash. Straight up ballers w no fear. That's what won the chip this year. They need dudes that r desperate for a ring and can ride LeBRons coattails. Nash would be awesome off the bench as pure instant offense. The big 3 could play off the ball as Nash creates open shots for all. A fan can dream cant he?

USMC

Such a microcosm of the negative double standard that is consistently applied to the Heat, that Durant is lauded for crying and expressing genuine emotion about losing, but Bosh was ridiculed and derided for the same thing last year. Haters gonna hate...smh.

Nat

Best of worst said about the Heat comes from both Joe Goodman (Herald) and Ira Winderman (Sun Sentinel) who picked OKC to win the Finals. So much for insight on the home team.... Way to go guys! I hope your readers have a short memory.

taheati

+1 =>> Posted by: USMC | 06/24/2012 at 11:22 AM

REALLY.

taheati

/topic

Not enthused about Kaman though Riley may still carry a torch.

Also unsure how Nash helps when the Heat don't have possession. New Heat spread-motion offense isn't point dependent.

If the Heat spend the midlevel, would expect multi-position type and if it ever became a decision btw, say, LO v. Tawn, I'd pick Jamison. Less drama, more consistent.

taheati

Times-Picayune says Hornets are "expected" to buy out Rashard Lewis [ http://bit.ly/LG40xS ].

Not saying Heat should acquire, just sayin.

H Gui

if anyone here doesn't think having lamar odom (who can play power forward and center and can pass) wouldnt make the PERFECT addition to this team, they know nothing of basketball. I don';t care what he did in dallas, he's only 32, a couple of years removed from his vital role on the lakers and he loves miami, he didnt want to leave here after , if you all remember, his bet season ever where he averaged 19 and 10 for us and got this whole thing started by being good enough to trade for shaq...

George S

@H Gul

I agree on Odom. If he'd be willing to actually play and focus on basketball next season (which, he obviously would if he willingly signed for Miami) then he'd be perfect for Miami.

If anyone actually sees why the Heat won this year, it was because of their insane athleticism all over the court. They utilized LeBron's overall greatness and their athletes and shooters did the rest. The Heat won without a traditional PG or a traditional C.

Acquiring Odom would allow the Heat to start the same lineup they did during the NBA Finals OR insert Odom at the 4 and have Bosh at the 5. That'd be absolutely insane for Miami. Just wow.

I also think the best acquistion the Heat could make would be Jason Terry if Odom doesn't want to play in Miami. Terry creates his own shot AND plays extremely well without it. He'd be the perfect compliment because he can create when he is playing with the second unit, and then play off the ball as a decoy/shooter when he's in the game with Wade/James/Bosh.

Dashi

Don't Sign Old Players. Draft Rookies and let them Develop(Cole,Pitt,Harris). The Heat should not sign a veteran player older than the Big 3 or Shane, Period. We already won a title with the Team we have. Let's Draft a C and keep our own together. Those vet's might give u 1-2 good years. A rookie can give U 10+.

Again, Any C that averages 8 & 8 will command 10mil+ in The NBA. Give Pitt more Playing time and Draft a Fab Melo or some other good College Center with the 1st rd Pick and let them share the time. We can Trade Up this Year and/or trade our 1st rd next year.

Heat Again

Heat will draft a quality shooter at the 27th pick, not another project center like Fab Melo.
The pick will be John Jenkins from Vanderbilt or Daron Lamb.

Chet

I think the Heat need a backup player for when Wade or Lebron take a rest, not to mention injuries. Pat will get the most for what monies they spend

Lt. Lois Einhorn

Cole isn't reliable. Pittman and Harris are hot garbage. The Curry project was always slated for next year.

Heat are lucky to have a late first rounder this year (27th?) but it means our next first rounder is going to the Cavs because they are in the lottery. Or something like that - Barry Jackson, figure this out for us!

The Heat don't have any way to trade up, do they?

neilherschkowitz@aol.com

Marino, are you high? Long has been to Pro Bowl every year in the league!

taheati

Posted by: H Gui | 06/24/2012 at 04:11 PM

Lol. Never said LO couldn't play. Luved LO's "redemption" as a Heat and rued (but not regretted) his trade for Shaq. But LO was and remains a guy who disappears (oncourt) almost as often as he contributes, whether starting or subbing. Did it as a Heat, did it as a Laker, did it even more at Dallas. You can almost book it. 30 or so games a year where his body shows up but his mind/energy/focus is MIA.

If anything, I'm inclined to *overlook* Dallas. Why? Because LO was fully and totally committed as a -- Laker. Totally and completely committed to -- LA. Said so many times. Record company? LA. Clothing line? LA. Reality show? LA. Hollywood wife/family? LA. So it's understandable Odom was totally and completely devastated to learn the Lakers tried to trade him.

Thing is, Odom completely moved on from Miami even if Heat fans haven't. LO luved being a Laker, luved his new life in LA, planted all kinds of roots in LA, thought he was a Laker for Life and still, probably, hopes to return.

That's why LO is a "risk" in a good, sincere kinda way. He's not an emotional fake, which makes him susceptible as an emotional flake. JMO.

Marino

As Charles Barkley would say, Jake Long was turrrible last year.

Dashi

Jake long's worst is still better than 95% better than any LT in the NFL. The man is a Future Hall-Of-Famer in the making just give him 7 more probowls which is pretty much a given if He plays 13+ Games a Season. Our problem was our right Side and Coaching. Hopefully Philbin Figures the O-line Out between Martin and Someone else at RG.

Believe me We are the only team in the Division that wasn't worried after Buffalo got Mario W. I know I'm not, If Martin locks up RT we are set for the next Decade at Tackles.

I think U can still use cash to move up in the NBA draft? Cole,Pitt and Harris are Young. I believe A Young Center is the way to go in the Draft, Not a Shooter this Year. U can Sign A Quality Veteran Shooter/Distributor (G.Hill, T-Mac, Nash, Kidd, Allen) for the Minimum than it is to sign A Garbage Big Man(Kaman, Gray, O'Neal, Collins, Mohammed, Orton, Pryzbilla). Trust Me.

My pick would Be G.hill or T-mac, both are 6'8+ can Shoot and pass. If Miller Retires we wouldn't be losing Much with any of those 2.

dre

Jamal Crawford would be ideal.

He can carry the scoring load when we need him to, and hit the open 3.

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