Well well well, we finally have learned what has been expected for some time now. That Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James have some serious man-love for one another. That Dan Gilbert is an unqualified jerk (But we already knew that too. He who built his empire on the backs of dubious liar loans and HELOCs based on questionable appraisals). That Somebody will overpay for Amare (NYK). That Danny Ainge will pull off some deep value deal to extend the life of the Big Three, his greatest NBA accomplishment. And that yet again, despite the opportunity, Mark Cuban has done nothing quite remarkable to improve his team for championship success.
But those are some things we kind of already knew. What we didn't know was just how much pull Pat Riley still has in the NBA. Sure, he has merely copied the Ainge model to a certain extent. But in the Ainge case, he had to stockpile assets for years before making a move. Riley only had to do two things. 1) Draft D-Wade. 2) Fire everyone else.
The simplicity of this approach is singularly remarkable in the history of the NBA. No one has ever gotten so much for actually doing nothing. The absence of anything. Hell, he even gave away the #2 pick in the 2008 draft in a transaction completely unrelated to Bosh's Raptors or James' Cavaliers. Surely, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all those involved. And surely, this signals the death knell for the current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) and the beginning of the new CBA (Countdown to Ballers Absconding).
Oh well, at least we will have this one glorious year of waiting for the Finals to happen. It should come down to Game 7 in the Staples Center once again. Lakers vs. Heat. We know about the New Big 3 in Miami, but how about the rest of the roster?
Let's take a look at the starting lineup:
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF Mike Miller
PF LeBron James
C Chris Bosh
I know. Everybody hates Chris. But you will have to play center for the Heat despite your claim that somehow you are "not a center." I'm sorry that Dwight Howard plays center in the Eastern Conference, really I am. But face it, you play down low, you bang the boards, you fight fight fight through the trees. You are a center. We have dealt with this for the past decade with Tim Duncan, a practice which started similarly - because we didn't want to deny TD an All-Star berth just because he played in a Western Conference with Shaq. Ok, fine Chris, we'll put you on the All-Star Ballot as a PF so Superman Jr. won't steal all your starter nods. If we did it for Timmy, I guess we've got to do it with you too. Especially since you've gone and made yourself a big deal and not the next Air Canada.
Assuming the Miller deal goes through (reported at 5 year $30 mill), the Heat will have exceeded the salary cap just for their starting roster. They can do that because they owned the Bird rights to Wade and will likely engineer sign-and-trade deals to acquire both James and Bosh, basically because who wants to be the GM forever known as the guy who lost James/Bosh and got absolutely nothing in return?
So, who else can we put on this roster? Assuming that the full mid-level exception was used to acquire Miller, that leaves only the bi-annual exception (for a deal around $2m per) and the rest minimum contracts for 2nd rounders or veterans subsidized by the league.
So, who are the rookies that Miami has the rights to currently who will probably make the team just because there is no one else. These guys must feel like they just won the lottery:
PG Patrick Beverley 6'1 180
SF Da'Sean Butler 6'7 225
PF Jarvis Varnado 6'9 220
C Dexter Pittman 6'10 300+
The good news? These guys are all 22 years old or younger and will earn the minimum salary for rookies next year (around $700,000). The bad news? That's still only nine players. NBA rules dictate a minimum of 13 players on a roster. So, much like the Celtics after their twin acquisitions of Garnett and Allen, we are left to ponder who will be the remaining components of this championship roster?
Question #1: Who will get the bi-annual exception?
Rumor has it Derek Fisher is seriously considering it. Why? Do you know that despite entering the league at the same time and sharing five championships together, D-Fish has never ever even been to Kobe's house? Do you think that WBJ will be hanging out together like all the time? Maybe people should start asking if Kobe can win a championship without Fisher. If Fisher doesn't get the bi-annual, do they go after Shaq? After all, he can still handle Superman Jr. and he does have a history with Wade and LeBron. If neither of these guys gets the bi-annual I'd be surprised.
If not Fisher, there will still be a need for Cool Hand Luke veteran backup PG type player. And for that role I also nominate these current unrestricted free agents:
Jason Williams (but not for the BAE)
That still leaves somebody to step in the middle and slide Bosh over to the 4 for 20-25 minutes per game. And for that role (this one is easy), I nominate Zydrunas Ilgauskas. After Dan Gilbert just blew his top on friend LeBron and especially how management treated Z during the run-up to the Jamison trade and how the coaching staff treated him all year but particularly during the playoffs when he didn't even find the floor despite his obvious chemistry with James and ability to knock down 18-20 foot wide-open jumpshots made possible by his buddy perpetually slashing to the hoop (you think the Heat will be collapsing the lane this year?), my guess is that Z will realize his loyalty is to the Gund Era of the Cavaliers and hightail it out of town. He still wants a championship just like anybody else.
That leaves two roster spots. They still need size and probably a bench scorer. It's likely they will figure out some way to bring back Udonis Haslem. Because they own his Bird rights, that shouldn't be too much of a problem. He's the glue guy that they'll need to perk up the second squad and to take some of the minutes at the 5 away from CB. If they can't get him or need to use him in one of the sign-and-trades, they should target Louis Amundson, an unrestricted free agent who fulfilled largely the same role for the Suns last year.
But we still need one more player just to get to the minimum! Not to mention if somebody gets hurt... Who will it be?
Q Rich is a boarding shooter who could back up the injury-prone Miller. Trenton Hassell or Jarvis Hayes could be brought in as defensive stoppers. It just depends on who loses out on the bigger contracts available out there from the teams that lost out on LeBronathon. Who will fall through the cracks? Who might un-retire a la PJ Brown just to make a run with these guys? Is there yet another All-Star out there at the end of their career who cares to make a run at it as wingmen a la Gary Payton & Karl Malone in 2004?
Enough speculation. "What's the skinny?" you say. Well, if I were a betting man, I'd say the 2010-11 Miami Heat roster will probably look a lot like this, give or take one or two elements:
PG Mario Chalmers
SG Dwyane Wade
SF Mike Miller
PF LeBron James
C Chris Bosh
PG Eddie House
PG Jason Williams
SF Da'Sean Butler
SF Quentin Richardson
PF Jarvis Varnado
PF Udonis Haslem
C Dexter Pittman
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas