The Miami Heat, who are a win away from earning the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference,recently added a pair of players to reach the NBA’s maximum player limit according to ESPN. Miami (48-34) officially added free agent Dorell Wright on Tuesday after much speculation that the 30-year old forward would ultimately land in South Beach. Wright joins Briante Weber as new members of the Heat, who now have 15-players on their roster for the first time since the February Trade deadline.
Weber made his debut for the Heat on Sunday, producing two points and an assist in three minutes of action in the team’s victory over Orlando. The 23-year old did not play in Miami’s 99-93 victory at Detroit on Tuesday. With the victory over Detroit, the Heat improved to 48-33 and currently sit in the third spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race despite being having identical records with the Atlanta Hawks — Miami owns the tie-breaker over Atlanta as the Heat won the season series 3-to-1.
Miami concludes its regular season at Boston (47-34) on Wednesday night. The Heat can clinch the conference’s third seed with a win or if the Hawks lose to Washington. There are also scenarios where Miami falls to the fifth or sixth seed. Miami has won two straight and four-of-five.
Wright became available to sign with any NBA team last month after finishing his season with Beijing of the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 24.7 points and 7.3 rebounds. The 30-year old averaged 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in just a touch over 12 minutes of playing time with the Portland Trail Blazers last year, but couldn’t find any takers this summer as a free agent.
Wright is an 11-year NBA veteran who excels as a shooter off the bench. The 6-foot-9 small forward averages of 8.4 points to go along with 3.8 rebounds while shooting 36.5 percent from beyond the arc for his career. He spent his first six years with Miami before moving onto Golden State, Philadelphia and Portland.
While Wright has previously indicated he wanted to join the Heat, it will be interesting to see if a deal gets done as Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders has reported that Wright was looking for a multi-year deal. Kennedy said that Miami has the ability to accommodate Wright’s request, but that would slightly alter the team’s timing of signing a 15th player as the multi-year deal would increase his daily tax amount from $5,572 to $8,819.
Wright is not the only player that the Heat are interested in signing; the Miami Herald reports that the team is also interested in inking Briante Weber to a deal.
Weber has spent most of the year with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat’s D-League team, though he did have a 10-day stint with the Memphis Grizzlies. The 6-foot-2 point guard appeared in six games with the Grizzlies in the middle of March, averaging 4.8 points along with 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists as well as 1.5 steals in 27.2 minutes. He did struggle shooting the ball, making just 34.2 percent of his shots from the field, and was 0-for-5 from the three-point line.
Weber had a solid inaugural D-League regular season, averaging 10.7 points along with 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game. Weber is known for being a very disruptive and quality defender, he finished fourth in the D-League with 2.1 steals a game and third in defensive rating.
Weber is not the only D-League player that the Heat could target for their final roster spots. According to Rant Sports, John Lucas III, Greg Whittington and DeAndre Liggins also deserve consideration. Whittington and Liggins played for the SkyForce this year as well.
Liggins is an excellent defender, ranking in the top-10 of the D-League in defensive rating and defensive win shares in two of the past three years. The 2014 D-League Defensive Player of the Year averaged 13.0 points,7.0 assists and 6.3rebounds in 34 regular season games this year while shooting 43.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Liggins has NBA experience, appearing in 57 games since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 by the Orlando Magic though his last stint was in 2013-14 with the Heat where he only played in one game. The 6-foot-6 wing owns career averages of 1.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 7.1 minutes of action.
Whittington, like Liggins and Weber, is strong defensively. The 6-foot-8 forward finished second in the D-League in defensive rating, sixth in steals and seventh in defensive win share this year. He has the ability to spread the floor with his three-point shooting and is a very good rebounder. Whittington averaged 13.8 points and 8.0 rebounds along with 2.1 steals and one block a game in 27 games for Sioux Falls.
Lucas is an experienced NBA veteran with seven years of experience. The 33-year old point guard appeared in 21 games with the Detroit Pistons last year, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 assists in 13 minutes of action. Overall, he averages 4.8 points while shooting 38.4 percent from the floor and 34.5 percent from beyond the arc in 237 career games.
Lucas played with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the D-League this year and is currently playing in Puerto Rico. Miami plans on meeting with Lucas this weekend according to a Sun Sentinel article on April 8.
NBA rules permit players who are signed prior to a team’s final game are eligible for the NBA playoffs, provided they were not with another team after March 1 (excluding 10-day contracts). Depending on the health of Chris Bosh and Tyler Johnson, it is unlikely that any player that signs with the Heat will play in the playoffs as NBA teams are only able to have 13 active players on their playoff roster.
Miami (46-33) is currently tied with the Charlotte Hornets for fifth place in the Eastern Conference after falling to the Orlando Magic 112-109 in Orlando Friday. The Heat, 6-4 in their last 10, hosts Orlando on Sunday and then finishes the season with road games at Detroit and Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Miami is just a game in back of Atlanta and Boston, who are currently tied for the third spot in the conference.
[Image via AP Photo/Mark Zaleski]