The Miami Heat have 19 players under contract and have loads of depth at every position but point guard, though that could change by the time training camp rolls around at the end of September.
Miami begins a new era as the Heat will be without Dwyane Wade for the first time since 2003. The Heat did a relatively nice job of replacing Wade and Luol Deng (Los Angeles Lakers), signing Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington along with Derrick Williams and James Johnson this offseason. They also signed center Willie Reed and traded for Luke Babbitt. In addition, Tyler Johnson and Udonis Haslem re-upped with the team.
The only position Miami didn’t really address this offseason is point guard though Johnson has some experience at the one. Briante Weber is a true point guard, but will likely be one of the players fighting for a spot in camp as he is one of four with non-guaranteed contracts – Okoro White, Rodney McGruder, and Stefan Jankovic are the other players without fully guaranteed contracts.
Johnson is a 6-foot-4 athletic combo guard — meaning he is a shooting guard by trade with the ability to play the point when necessary. The 24-year-old is not a natural distributor, but the Heat still used him more than 50 percent of his 863 minutes on the floor at the point. He averaged 8.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 34 games in 2015.
Last year, Weber thrived in the D-League before getting a chance with the Memphis Grizzlies and then with the Heat for one game. Weber averaged 4.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.3 assists along with 1.5 turnovers last year in seven NBA games. He shot 35.9 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free throw line (3-for-4).
Dragic is the unquestioned starter and will likely be counted on to carry more of the load with Wade gone. However, Dragic will likely need some time off as a result of his physical and attacking style. The 30-year-old missed 10 games last year and has not played 80 games since the 2009-10 season — which is likely why the Heat has a standing offer for Beno Udrih as reported by Ira Winderman of the Miami Sentinel. Winderman said that the offer is likely a one-year pact for the veteran’s minimum.
Update: The Heat have indeed signed Beno Udrih to a one-year minimum deal, according to Yahoo Sports,
Udrih is a 12-year veteran who is a very crafty scorer and protects the ball well. The 34-year-old excels in pick-n-roll situations and battles on the defensive end. He appeared in 44 games overall in 2015-16, averaging 4.4 points and 2.5 assists while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor in 36 contests with the Heat. Udrih, who took a buyout from Miami after suffering a season ending injury, also played with the Memphis Grizzlies last year.
Even though Miami has 19 players under contract with the inclusion ofUdrih, the Heat can addd one more player to get to the league limit of 20. It is unlikely that the Heat will sign another point guard right now but both Dragic and Udrih have a history of getting hurt. Ty Lawson, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, and Steve Blake are among the point guards still on the open market.
Chalmers spent eight seasons with Miami before getting dealt to Memphis for Udrih and Jarnell Stokes. The 30-year-old is a good distributor who is inconsistent as a shooter. Chalmers had his most productive year in 2015-16 since his rookie campaign with the Griz, averaging 10.8 points and 3.8 assists while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from beyond the arc. He had his season end in early March after tearing his right Achilles tendon.
Cole is not very efficient, as he averages 7.1 points on seven shots, and possesses a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio for his career. The 27-year-old, however, is coming off a career season, producing 10.6 points, 3.7 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 45 games with New Orleans. He also has history with the Heat, playing his first three years and a portion of another season in Miami.
Blake reportedly wants to play one more year and is probably the best fit among the three players discussed. The 36-year-old is a very good playmaker off the bench and will not make any big mistakes. He also will compete on the defensive end. Blake averaged 4.4 points and 3.4 assists in 58 games for the Detroit Pistons a season ago.
Then there is Baron Davis and Derek Fisher. Both veterans have been out of the NBA for the past few years.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Davis is geared for another shot in the league. The 37-year-old played in six games last season with the Delaware 87ers after not playing in the league since 2011-12, averaging 12.8 points along with 3.5 assists and 2.5 rebounds.
“Nah, I’m trying to get back to the NBA,” Davis said when asked if he was preparing for another year in the D-League. “The real thing.”
Davis played 13-years in the NBA, last playing with the New York Knicks in 29 games in 2011-12, and was one of the best point guards in the league for most of those years before two surgeries derailed his career. He averaged 16.1 points and 7.9 assists for his career.
Fisher retired after 2014 and had been in the coaching business the past couple of season before being fired by the New York Knicks during this past season. Per the New York Daily News, the 42-year-old is only expected to be interested in playing for title contenders, which the Heat are not.
Another possible option for the Heat would be trading for a veteran like Devin Harris of the Dallas Mavericks. Harris is not currently a part of the rotation with the Mavericks as he is behind Deron Williams and J.J. Barea on the depth chart. The Mavs also inked Seth Curry to a two-year, $6 million deal this offseason.
Arthur Hill of Hoop Rumors wrote that the Heat may be interested in Harris since he is a low-cost player but it may take a while for something to materialize. The 33-year-old is a very good ball-handler and normally an excellent distributor though he only had 1.8 assists to go along with 1.0 turnovers in 2015-16. Harris did add 7.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.
The rest of the Heat’s depth chart looks as the following.
Waiters, Johnson, Wayne Ellington and McGruder
Waiters is a scorer but still takes too many bad shots. He had a relatively nice season with the Oklahoma City Thunder last year. Johnson will likely split time between the one and two. Ellington will likely see limited time unless he has an outstanding training camp. Josh Richardson may also see time at the two.
McGruder will likely be ticketed to Sioux Falls of the D-League this year. But the 25-year-old is very athletic and had a solid summer league campaign. McGruder scored in double-figures in four of his eight games and averaged 11.4 points and shot 49.5 percent from the field along with 49.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Justise Winslow, Richardson, Babbitt, and White
Winslow is the starter and will look to take another step in his development as will Richardson. Babbitt could see time at power forward as well, the only thing that the 6-foot-7, 27-year-old brings to the table is three-point shooting.
White will also likely start the season in Sioux Falls. The former Florida State Seminole spent last season in Greece. The 6-foot-8 forward was very good in Las Vegas during the summer campaign for the Heat. He tallied double-figures in three of the five games and averaged 8.0 points along with 6.0 rebounds while shooting 37.8 percent from the floor and 36.4 percent from long-distance. White also played for the Orlando Magic summer league team in Orlando.
Chris Bosh, Derrick Williams, Josh McRoberts, and Stefan Jankovic
"This is a new challenge. We're embracing change and we're excited about the future."— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 16, 2016
Coach Spo discusses 2016-17https://t.co/uvcDfCWcq9
The biggest question is Bosh’s health. Bosh wants to play this upcoming season but coach Erik Spoelstra made no mention of the 32-year-old in two video messages that was posted on the team’s website (Tuesday) per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson added that Spoelstra singled out Hassan Whiteside, Richardson, Winslow and Johnson as the team’s defensive leaders.
The decision of whether Bosh will play or not will likely come prior to the end of September.
Williams can play small forward and McRoberts also can play center.
Jankovic, an undrafted rookie out of Hawaii, is a project and the most likely of the four players with non-guaranteed deals to start the season in Sioux Falls. The 6-foot-11 power forward scored well during nine summer league games with the Heat though he did not do much else. The 23-year-old finished the Summer League circuit by averaging 6.2 points along with 2.1 rebounds a game. He shot 46.6 percent from the floor and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Whiteside, Reed, and Haslem
The big question is how much time Reed will get at the five and how much production will he contribute. Reed, 26, has spent most of his professional career in the D-League, he did appear in 39 games with Brooklyn in 2015-16 — averaging 4.7 points and 3.1 rebounds in 10.9 minutes of action. Haslem will likely see very limited time on the court.
[Photo by Lynne Sladky/AP Photo]