Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are entering the 2016 NBA offseason, looking to make a big move or two to get themselves back to the top of the Eastern Conference. They were nearly able to make the Eastern Conference Finals this season, although the blood clot issue that Chris Bosh dealt with derailed them in a big way.
Looking ahead at the upcoming offseason, there are a lot of big names on the free agent market. Kevin Durant is one name that pops out ahead of the rest, while DeMar DeRozan and Hassan Whiteside are other big names. Miami will look to re-sign Whiteside, but there is one middle of the pack free agent that the Heat would be very wise to attempt to sign.
J.R. Smith will hit open free agency this offseason after deciding to decline his player option with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and his ability to score the basketball would be a huge addition for the Heat.
Rob Wolkenbrod of FanSided.com opined that Smith could end up with the Heat this offseason. It is a move that would make sense for both sides. Miami needs more of a scoring punch and Smith is searching for money and a starting job that would give him a bigger role within the offense.
Cleveland will likely attempt to re-sign Smith, although he may choose to search elsewhere. Playing with LeBron James is something that most players enjoy doing, but it can get old after a while. Smith has been able to play his game from time to time, but he doesn’t have as big of a role as he would prefer.
Miami will not be the only team other than the Cavaliers interested in making a play for Smith, either. He will have a long list of teams searching for scoring that shows interest in him.
Throughout the course of the 2015-16 regular season, Smith ended up averaging 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 41.5 percent from the floor overall and knocked down a sizzling 40.0 percent of his three-point attempts. Those numbers show the offensive prowess that Smith has and why teams like the Heat would come calling this offseason.
At 30-years-old, Smith still has a few more years left in his prime before beginning to wind his career down. He has shown over the last couple of seasons in Cleveland that he is more than capable of putting a team on his back on the offensive end. Miami saw Joe Johnson disappear in their playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, and Smith could be a nice option to replace him in the starting lineup.
It will be very intriguing to see which teams show interest in signing Smith when free agency opens up. He has had a history of off-the-court problems, but those issues haven’t been seen over the last couple of years. Assuming he can continue keeping his head on straight, any team would be lucky to have a talent like Smith on their roster.
More rumors will continue coming up in the next few weeks as the offseason comes closer. Smith’s name will be attached to quite a few of those rumors, as well.
Expect to see the Heat express interest in Smith when free agency opens up on July 1. They are in need of a move or two, and definitely need help on the offensive end of the court. Smith may very well re-sign with the Cavaliers, but he has made it clear that he wants to test the market to see what others could offer.
Do you think the Miami Heat should pursue a deal with J.R. Smith in free agency this offseason? Would he be a piece that could help the Heat rise to the top of the East again? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below!
[Photo by AP Photo/John Minchillo]