It is safe to eliminate one of the perennial contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat. For the past decade the Heat has appeared in the NBA Finals five times, with three NBA titles to show for it. Even when the Heat are busy winning or competing for titles they remain relevant in the playoff picture. That is until recently. Changes are ahead for the Miami Heat. Losing an irreplaceable player was the beginning to the Heat’s future demise.
There are several recent free agent moves that have added depth to the Heat, while taking them out of contention. What the Miami Heat will have to learn that life will be hard without the departure of Dwyane Wade. It will take at least a season or two for the Heat to adjust. A series of moves have followed, leaving them to take look at retooling, maybe even rebuild.
After 13 seasons into the Dwyane Wade era, the Heat are starting anew. Wade had some discord with Heat president Pat Riley. Despite the love between each other, Wade acknowledged that is was not Riley’s job to be his best friend.
“It’s going to be a lot of stuff said about me and Pat. First of all, I love Pat. He has a job to do. He has a different hat to wear. That hat sometimes is not to be my best friend. That hat is to be the president of the organization and to be a businessman, and that sucks.”
Dwyane Wade admitted that the two of them were at odds over things other than contract talks.
“He’s a tough cookie. I’ve grown into being a tough one as well. Yeah, we can butt heads at times. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for what he’s been able to do in this game of basketball. I’ve only got 13 years under my belt. He’s got 13 years times 10 under his belt.”
Things that Heat fans are accustomed to, will change. That includes a change of playing style.
With Dwyane Wade, the Heat played at a deliberate pace. It is not a slow it down, dump the basketball inside the post style. Instead, it is a dribble the ball, have players rotate into certain spots and find someone going to the basket or a set shot. A lot of the onus will be on power forward Chris Bosh if he is healthy enough to play.
Goran Dragic will run the show, dictating the pace of the offense and where the ball goes. The Heat will have to hope that Dragic is ready to step up and be a scorer. With Dwyane Wade on the floor, Dragic was more reliant on what the future hall of famer would do. There is a whole at shooting guard, Wade’s position. In order to keep things honest, diagramming plays specifically for Dragic is a high priority.
REPORT: The Miami Heat have acquired Pelicans SF Luke Babbitt for a 2018 second-round pick and cash considerations. pic.twitter.com/QUuksLZprB
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) July 11, 2016
The Miami Heat did keep a player synonymous to their history when they re-signed Udonis Haslem, according to ESPN. They also added Wayne Ellington and James Johnson in free agency.
Making underrated moves such as adding Ellington and Johnson eases things a bit. One of the deals the Heat made that has flown under the radar is the acquisition of Luke Babbitt from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Miami Heat were able to add Babbitt with a conditional second round pick in 2018 that is top-55 protected.
Luke Babbitt, while nowhere near the player that Dwyane Wade is, is an ample replacement for the departed Luol Deng. Babbitt is the ultimate glue guy who can do a little bit of everything.
What are the Miami Heat going forward?
On paper the Heat looks like a deeper team without Dwyane Wade, but they are a shell of themselves. Keeping Hassan Whiteside was a necessity, but his development will go a long way in determining if the Miami Heat are retooling or rebuilding.
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]