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NBA Free Agency: Did the Heat clear too much space?

May 23, 2010, 10:32 AM EDT

The Miami Heat had big plans for this summer. First order of priority was to create enough room to re-sign Dwyane Wade, who loves Miami like its his mother, to max contract. The next step was adding another max free agent to prove to Wade he could win another championship in Miami after the last four seasons of mediocrity. So of course, the Heat took on contracts that ended this season, like Jermaine O’Neal’s to provide them with the cap space to make a significant offer.

The only problem is, they may have cleared too much.

Suddenly, sign and trade is looking like the best way to attain the services of the max free agents. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, even Dirk Nowitzki, all are only going to be amiable to a zipcode switch if they can complete a sign and trade, which grants them the extra year by re-signing with their current club before being shipped to their new locale. For example, Chris Bosh has given the Raptors a list of teams besides themselves he’s examining, so they can pursue sign-and-trades if he decides to leave Toronto and its non-playoff contention squad.

Similarly, each of the other free agents are likely to move only if a sign and trade is worked out. But in order to accomplish such a trade, you have to have players on roster that appeal to the other club. It’s one of the small measures of leverage the team losing its franchise player has. For example, Toronto can’t stop Bosh from signing elsewhere, but if he wants that extra year and the salary that comes with it (and he does), Toronto has to have a trade partner it wants to deal with.

And the Heat are unlikely to be such a club.

Next season, the Heat have Michael Beasley, James Jones, Joel Anthony, Daequan Cook, Mario Chalmers, and Kenny Hasbrouck on roster, for a total of a little more than $13 million. These players are not exactly what the Raptors will be looking for. The Heat would have a hard time convincing the Raptors to do a deal. If there were no other options, it would be easier, but there will be a large number of teams vying for Bosh’s services, others on his list, who have more to offer.

For example, the Los Angeles Lakers can offer Andrew Bynum as has been suggested in the past. While Bynum is injury prone, still lacks in areas of his game, and struggles with work ethic, he’s still the best prospect available. If Bosh instead decides to follow LeBron James to Chicago, and doesn’t require a sign-and-trade (since James knows in five years he can just sign another max, his long-term prosperity isn’t as much of a concern as it is for Bosh), Chicago can offer Luol Deng and/or Kirk Hinrich and younger pieces like Taj Gibson.

The Heat then are left with the prospect of their best possible option potentially being Carlos Boozer. Boozer’s unlikely to be a part of a sign and trade, Utah seems perfectly willing to let him walk. Of course, that’s partly because he’s Carlos Boozer and signing him to a max contract is like paying the price of a Lexus for a Volvo.

The Heat may be able to convince a player to abandon his former team without a sign-and-trade, to forsake that final year, but it’s unlikely that it’ll be one of the top free agents. And if they can’t obtain the services of such a player, why is it that Wade is so certain in re-signing with a team that has failed to provide him with a quality starting point guard, small forward, power forward, or center since the 2006 team?

This summer’s free agency becomes more and more complicated.

  1. Andy - May 23, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    I’m not so sure about the Heat not having assets. They can also sign and trade free agents of their own (Udonis Haslem would be a great complement to Bargnani). Also, the contracts of Hinrich and Deng are horrible. Why would they take Hinrich when they already have a glut of point guards? Deng is a great asset, but he is overpaid and is a similar player to their rookies, Derozan and Weems. Those two combined averaged approximately 16.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in the same amount of minutes Deng averaged. If I were the Raptors, I’d want to take younger players back, try to rebuild, etc. The Heat have 4 picks this year (3 2nd rounders) and also have the Raptors 1st round pick next year(If they make the playoffds, so they might want them back). Another option would be the Knicks, as they have some young players, too.

  2. Andy's lover Drew - May 23, 2010 at 5:12 PM

    The Heat and Wade better check their pant’s, I think
    mess in their underwear………….

  3. Andy - May 23, 2010 at 6:15 PM


  4. toms - May 23, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    Dirk is too old to be given the 6th year under NBA rules and Lebron will sign a three year contract with opt out after two years no matter who he signs with. Your point is well taken as to Chris Bosh only.

  5. ZakMan - May 23, 2010 at 10:05 PM

    i think beasley still holds a lot of weight as in trade value due to his potential… plus, he’d fit perfectly into the Raptors system — he’d be what they thought Turkoglu would be… a leading scorer
    i think the Raptors would spring for a trade of Bosh for Beasley, Cook, and the 1st round pick this year.
    If that trade happened, the Heat would have enough cap room to add yet another max-contract star… and it wouldnt even have to be LeBron… that would be nice, but Joe Johnson would still be a great addition

  6. Aleem - May 23, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    Dwayane Wade should go to Magic, Bulls, or boston because he said he wanna great future.

  7. Heat Dynasty - May 24, 2010 at 8:45 AM

    @Aleem…too bad neither Magic or Boston have salary cap money and are wedged completely for the next couple of years. Wade’s best option is Miami. Think about it, it’s th eonly chance where he can play with 3 max level suprstars on one team (Wade, Bosh/Amare, LeBron/Joe Johnson) and if Wade went to Chicago what’s so good about their team? Noah and Rose really? The Bulls first and foremost couldn’t even make it to the playoffs with what most people are calling a young talented team lol. Well with what most people have called the Heat the past 2 years as Wade and a bunch of scrubs– our Wade + Scrubs = better than Bulls and their young talented core. Wade’s best bet is Miami, and Riley will deliver this summer with at least one star caliber max…and then build off from there. Even if Riley has to coach again, which is very likely to happen.

  8. Jack - May 24, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    If bosh really wants to be a winner he may forgoe the sign and trade and just sign anywhere with enough capspace and a championship caliber roster. If he ends up wanting the money Toronto will push for Portland and lamarcus Aldrige and Rudy fernandez… Keeping Toronto relevant and the blazers the future NBA champs… I hope he tAkes the money go blazers

  9. CAS - May 24, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Andy…Udonis Haslem…?? Seriously? He’s a “great compliment to Bargani”?? Wow..I thought Haslem had NO game and offered NO help. As for your initial reply, you misunderstood the author’s gist; he did not intend for the Heat to trade for Kirk, he presented a hypothetical situation Bosch AND the Raptors would speculate on. ‘Nuf said.

  10. Don - May 24, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    People underestimate Pat Riley. He has been working on for the past couple of years. The lure of Miami and playing with the player with the biggest will to win will lure other stars including Joe Johnson. Can you imagine DWade attacking the rim with Amare following. It will be scary.

  11. Jerit - Jun 27, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    But… Wade could also go the same S/T route as Bosh likely will and head to Boston, Orlando or anywhere else — with Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York all included.
    And Wade and Miami’s roster has been a perennial playoff team (and not much else since the Shaq/Wade title), sure, and Chicago’s young talented team has barely made the playoffs the last two years, sure.
    But first of all, they haven’t missed the playoffs since Rose got drafted, and Rose is the best piece of that young talent. And I doubt think the Heat would be perennial playoff participants without Wade, so that would suggest the Bulls roster without Wade has been better that the Heat’s if you exclude Wade. Now, Wade could theoretically go home to Chicago to a roster that was already a playoff team without it AND can now add another max contract guy. So if we’re just talking about the team’s likelihood to win a championship, doesn’t a playoff team PLUS Wade PLUS Bosh/Amare/Boozer look like a better team than Wade PLUS Bosh/Amare/Boozer/Joe and whatever you get to fill the roster? Rose would be in the same category as guys like Joe/Boozer/Amare/Bosh if he were a free agent this summer, so any two big-time free agents going to Chicago are essentially getting to play with three top-flight players without have to take the pay cut they might have to to play for some of the other teams to do so.
    I’m not saying that’s going to happen. I actually think LeBron and someone else (probably Bosh) end up in Chicago, and Wade stays put and gets Amare, Boozer or Joe to come join him. I just didn’t really agree with your logic.

  12. Codi - Jun 27, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    I think wade will stay in miami because he already sayed his heart’s in miami and thats his 1st choice. So if pat riley can offer him a good contract july 1st then he will stay and then they can sign 1 or 2 star players to help him and the heat get back in championship figure

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