With all the uncertainty of the NBA’s season hanging around the league right now with the lockout in full swing, the NBA resumed some normal business yesterday when it released its 2011-2012 schedule.
However, that schedule could prove meaningless if the rumors of just how far the players and owners are apart from striking a new deal are true.
One team that the lockout could affect more than most is the defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat. If the NBA moves to a hard salary cap, the Heat could be forced to relinquish one of their prized Big 3 contracts. Assuming that won’t happen, the Heat still have quite a few holes they need to fill before next season resumes, whenever that may be.
In LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh’s first year together as a super team, the Heat fell two games short from being crowned NBA champions. The Dallas Mavericks were the better team and ultimately prevailed in six games.
Despite the Heat’s talent, the Mavericks exposed some glaring flaws in Miami’s lineup that team president Pat Riley must address if the Heat are going to win it all next season.
As anyone who watches the NBA knows, or watches ESPN for that matter, the Heat are deficient at the point guard and center positions. Mike Bibby was a huge failure during the playoff run, and Mario Chalmers is questionable as an everyday starter at the point. As for the five spot, the combination of Joel Anthony, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire was more out of place than Chris Anderson’s neck tattoo.
Anthony was a great defensive presence, but his offensive skills plagued his overall game. And Dampier and Magloire are about a year away from a nursing facility.
The point is the Heat will need to target point guards and centers when the NBA is allowed to resume day-to-day activity. Miami will undoubtedly be a title favorite heading into next year, but still need to make some upgrades on their roster. Here are some of the top options (not just point guards and centers) for the Heat to consider as they push for not one, not two, not three….
Dalembert is the best and most affordable option when it comes to the five spot. Obviously, the Heat would love to get a Nene Hilario or Tyson Chandler, but they will be way out of the team’s price range.
Dalembert is a solid option to man the middle with his 6’11”, 250-pound frame. He had nine very good years with Philadelphia, and another good year with the Kings last season.
He has career averages of eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game. The 10-year veteran would become an immediate starter for the Heat, and would provide a lot of the essentials that the Heat were missing in the center position last year.
He has a great defensive prowess with a stellar ability to block shots and protect the paint. In addition, he has great hands for rebounding and would make sure there wouldn’t be many second-chance opportunities for opposing teams.
Dalembert’s offensive game isn’t spectacular, but he could still be counted on to get buckets from time to time. He has a solid career field goal percentage of 52% and has a decent mid-range game. Either way, it would be a large improvement over Anthony.
Miami would be a great destination for Dalembert as he would be the immediate starter and see a lot of playing time.
Once Mavs coach Rick Carlisle decided to insert J.J. Barea into the starting lineup for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, it changed the entire series. The Heat didn’t win another game and the Mavericks went on to win the NBA championship.
Barea sparked the Mavs offense and was able to freeze the Miami defense with his ability to get inside the lane. He also is a very reliable shooter and facilitator.
Miami could really use Barea’s services either off the bench or in a starter’s role. He would take pressure off LeBron James and Dwyane Wade handling the ball so often, and would spread the floor with his jump shooting. He could get James and Wade in the right spots with his great passing ability, but also drive to the hole if needed.
Barea said he would love to return to the Mavs, but stated he would also consider the Heat and Knicks as top options if doesn’t return to Dallas. The fact that he even mentioned the Heat as a possibility means that the Heat have a good shot at acquiring the pesky, 6-foot point guard.
Barea would be a great answer to some of the Heat’s point guard troubles.
Shane Battier is a household name when it comes to defense. He has been on the All-Defense second team twice and is someone that takes pride in that department.
He would be a perfect fit for the Heat’s roster. Battier could replace LeBron at small forward when he goes to the bench or be on the court with LeBron in a shooting role. The Heat are at their best when their perimeter stars (LeBron and Wade) are penetrating and they have reliable three-point shooters as an option to kick it out to when needed.
Battier can jump and shoot right after a pass, which would be needed when Wade and James drive, and is a career 39 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
His defense would be his biggest asset for the Heat because LeBron wouldn’t have to expend as much energy on both sides of the court.
Battier had a solid playoff run with Memphis, but is probably looking to play for a contender at this point in his career.
T.J. Ford has been on the Heat’s radar for years since he was drafted in the same class as LeBron, Wade and Bosh in 2003.
Injury problems have limited Ford’s career, and he has played on three different squads since being drafted. However, he is a free agent now and should be on top of the Heat’s wish list.
He is a decent offensive threat, averaging 11 points per game in his career. He has averaged as much as 15 points and eight assists in separate years, so he would certainly be a great back up option to Mario Chalmers at the very least.
He has limited his turnovers recently, but still doesn’t have much range. Still, he could provide a good scoring boost off the bench and be a very solid backup to Chalmers.
Yes, there is no question that Kwame Brown is one of the biggest busts in NBA history after being drafted first overall in 2001.
However, you must look at the circumstances. The Heat were very thin in the frontcourt last season and were so desperate for big bodies, that they were forced to sign Erick Dampier midseason.
Miami doesn’t need some high profile, offensive minded center to fill the middle for them. All they need is a big body, who can gobble up rebounds, defend and do the occasional scoring right under the basket. That’s exactly what Brown provides.
Brown actually had a solid year for the Bobcats last year, posting eight points and seven boards per game. He shot well from the field and actually contributed a lot for the Bobcats.
With the Heat’s best center being Anthony, an under-sized hybrid forward-center with no offensive game, Brown would actually be an improvement. He could start for the Heat, and wouldn’t be forced to play too many minutes with Anthony coming off the bench (where is he better suited anyway).
Brown might also progress with the greatness of Wade, Bosh and James surrounding him on the court, who knows?