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Its that time of the season
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On May 29, 2000 @ 1:00 am In All,NBA | No Comments
Well, here it comes, it’s that time of the season!!
The time to dwell on past success.
The time to dwell on past failures.
The time to dwell on the future.
The time to dwell on what went wrong.
The time to dwell on what it could have been.
The time to dwell on what it should have been.
The time to create something new.
The time to break up something old.
This is the most important period for any team in the league. Because it is the time for one long look at the roster and decide the course of action for the future. The decisions taken at this critical juncture make or break a team. GMs, Scouts, Owners, Coaches are hard at work to decide what path their team will take. Whether they will rebuild, add to their roster or simply implode to make a fresh beginning. It is a very crucial period because the draft order has been announced.
The Miami Heat pick 10th in the draft. As luck would have, and as it has been the whole season, the ball or rather the ping-pong balls did not bounce in Miami’s favor. Miami would have loved to lay its hands on Jayson Williams to solve its point guard woes. But as fate has it Miami has to pick after 9 teams had their choicest pickings.
Miami can theoretically get a higher pick if it trades up and finds a suitor who has a higher pick. But the asking price in this supposedly talent-laden draft will be high. Miami’s only tradable commodities are, an overpaid power forward who had a forgettable season, a decent shooting guard who has a huge contract and a franchise center, whose loss will mean that Miami will have another huge hole to fill.
Miami also has other problems. Micky Arison has decide not to pay the luxury tax. With the cost cutting ways the Heat are adopting and a salary of $53000000 guaranteed to 7 players, talent to fill the rest of the roster may be hard to come by. Chris Gatling’s contract has a team option. The heat, have 8 players who are free agents:
Kendall Gill: 5.7ppg, 2.8rpg, 1.5apg
Gill was signed by the Heat to replace their top defender Bruce Bowen who signed with the Spurs. Gill was nowhere close to Bowen in performance. While his renowned defense was not up to mark, he also shot the ball poorly. Though he was the starting Small Forward for the Heat, his play does not warrant him a contract with the Heat. With the kind of cash crunch the Heat are facing, they can ill afford to sign a non-performing player.
Rod Strickland: 10.4 ppg, 3.1rpg, 6.1apg
Strickland was clearly the MVP of the Heat. He was a model citizen and marshaled the point position very well. He adjusted very well to the Heat playbook and played his part to perfection. He moved past Maurice Cheeks to 6th position in the all times assists list by dishing out a total of 7489 assists in his career. He is clearly a guy who the Heat have to look to resign with the point position being one of the weakest. Strickland has indicated at the end of the season as having a desire to return. He could be resigned to another contract, as many teams will not be ready to offer him a bigger contract than what the Heat will offer him.
Sean Marks: 4.6ppg, 3.4rpg, .4apg
Sean Marks numbers this season do not tell the whole story. He initially played a lot of minutes in Alonzo Mourning’s absence and was averaging around 10ppg and 15rpg. But as the season progressed he mysteriously was relegated to the bench and was racking up DNP CDs. He spent the season warming the bench and playing garbage minutes. But there were some positive reports out of the heat camp towards the end of the season. Marks was practicing long range shooting with the coaches. It seems that the Heat are going to try out Marks as shooting big man. He could be fall well within Miami’s price range.
Vladimir Stepania: 4.3ppg, 4.0rpg, .2apg
Averaging around 13mpg, Stepania emerged as the backup to Alonzo Mourning. He proved to be a decent offensive player and a rebounder. The knock on him is his poor decision making at the offensive end and his poor defense. Despite this fact Riley preferred to play him over Sean Marks. Stepania did open some eyes with a few outstanding games where he scored and rebounded in double figures. But such games were few and far between. The decision to sign stepania would involve a lot of thinking on the part of the Heat. In the end it may turn out to be a coin toss between Stepania or Sean Marks.
Jimmy Jackson: 10.7ppg, 5.3rpg, 2.5apg
Jimmy Jackson probably brought the most joy to the Heat fans this season. He brought his veteran savvy and much needed scoring to this team. He was the main reason that the Heat were at least able to make a run at the playoff spot. He hit clutch shots in many games and his energy off the bench gave the much, needed boost to the team. He is a player the Heat need to sign at all costs. Jackson has redeemed himself around the league with his play. He may find many suitors this off-season.
Eddie House: 8.0ppg,1.7rpg,1.9apg
Eddie House in his second season did not become the point guard that Miami expected he would be but he excelled as the shooter he always was. House ended the season on a good not with a string of great performances at the end of the season. Though he is no Iverson, he certainly is a much better version of Steve Kerr. He is a kind of shooter who if on a roll can make shots from any place in the court. Teams have noticed his performance. He may have priced himself out of the range of the Heat. Though loyalty is a factor that could bring him back to Miami’s fold.
Ernest Brown: 1.0ppg, 2.0rpg
Ernest Brown only played 3 games this season. So it was not enough time to judge his performance or his talents. He will make the Heat summer league roster where he will have an opportunity to showcase his skills. With last years draft pick, Ken Johnson breathing down his shoulder, it may be his last chance to gain a roster spot.
Mike James: 2.8ppg, .9apg, 1.3apg
Mike James went undrafted but was touted by Riley to be better than half the draft picks. Mike had a disappointing rookie season. He will have a chance to redeem himself in the summer league. If he proves his worth he may get a shot at the backup point guard spots, which is one of Miami’s weakness.
Miami may also look for some cap relief by trying to trade one of its key players. Riley had a talk with Alonzo Mourning at the end of the regular season. Riley later said that he had no intention of trading Alonzo Mourning, but he would do so if mourning himself requested a trade and that he would trade him only to a contender. By the way things are progressing, it looks highly unlikely that Miami may want to move Mourning as it would only create a void at the center spot. The Mourning question is best left undebated till the end of the 2002-03 season when his contract ends. Miami would be foolish to trade its best player and only All Star to another team in a league, which has a dearth of good big men.
Brian Grant is probably the player whom Riley will look to trade. Grant had a very disappointing season. It could be attributed to a niggling toe injury, which he carried all season. But the fact remains that he is grossly overpaid. Grant is revered around the league as a hustler and a tough player. But his trade value takes a hit because of his huge contract. Miami may have to take player/s with similar contract in exchange for Grant. Hopefully Grant will recover completely this season and justify his huge pay packet with a great season. He must at least provide Miami with dominance on the board and the kind of hustle that he is renowned for.
Eddie Jones was probably the most consistent player for the Heat. He averaged 18.3 ppg and improved his offensive game this year. He also shed his ‘soft’ tag somewhat by coming up big in many games by hitting clutch shots in the fourth quarter. He is also a player who may generate interest and could be traded. Again with Eddie Jones, his contract is a trade killer. Though I don’t necessarily agree with trying to trade Jones as he can be great as a complimentary player. Then again, complimentary players do not get a maximum dollar contract that Jones has. Jones has to use this season as a stepping-stone to reach the height, which made him an all star with the Lakers.
LaPhonso Ellis was a disappointment. He did not show the kind of game, which made him third in the Sixth Man of the year voting with the Wolves. One positive aspect of his game is that he can play both forward positions with ease. He has to use his versatility better this season. He could also work on his 3pt shot, which at points in the season helped the team.
Anthony Carter would not be a starter on any other team in the league. In fact he may find it hard to be a backup in many teams. He was the starter at the beginning of the season till Strickland moved ahead of him. If that was not enough, Eddie House became the primary backup to Strickland. Carter is a very good penetrator and a good defender. But he is not a good shooter. Defenders back down, which does not allow him to drive, so he has to settle for the jump shot. He has to knock down mid range jump shots with consistence. This will help to open up the floor. He can then use his quickness to go to the basket. He has to get better at decision-making. He has to show some improvement this year. Miami cannot afford a $3mil bench warmer.
The Heat have to choose wisely at the draft. The greatest need the Heat have is at the Point Guard and Small Forward spot. Since Miami has only one pick in this draft, given an option, it should pick a Small Forward. This draft includes some good players at the Small Forward position like Mike Dunleavy Jr, Qyntel Woods, Caron Butler, Jared Jeffries , Nickoloz Tskitishvil and Bostjahn Nachbar. Some good point guards in this draft are Jayson Williams, Dajuan Wagner, Frank Williams, Jiri Welsch and Dan Dickau. The Heat must take whoever is lucky enough to fall into their lap. A good scoring Small Forward will be ideal for this seasons campaign. Many mock drafts have Miami picking Caron Butler or Qyntel Woods at 10. History has yielded some very good players at the 10th spot like Joe Johnson(2001), Jason Terry(1999), Paul Pierce (1998), Danny Fortson(1997), Eddie Jones(1994), Horace Grant(1987).
This is the time for reflection.
This is the time for evaluation
Because it is that time of the season.
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