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NBA Saturday: What’s Next for the HEAT?
Posted By Alex Kennedy On June 23, 2012 @ 5:37 am In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The Miami HEAT were just crowned NBA champions, but they’ll get back to work almost immediately. When the champagne bottles are empty and the celebration comes to an end, HEAT brass will shift their attention to the offseason and focus on adding more talent to their star-studded roster. After all, the 2012 NBA Draft is less than one week away and free agency will begin in nine days.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be back in Miami, but they may be without some of their teammates. Mike Miller and James Jones are contemplating retirement and Ronny Turiaf, Juwan Howard, Dexter Pittman, Eddy Curry and Terrel Harris can all become unrestricted free agents. If all seven players leave, Miami will only have eight players under contract for next season.
Even though the HEAT hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy on Thursday evening, their roster may look very different entering next season. Much of the team’s core will remain intact, but they’ll have to re-sign or replace a number of role players who filled out the roster during this championship run.
Miami doesn’t have much money to spend, but they’ll attempt to lure a free agent with their mini mid-level exception, just as they were able to do with Shane Battier last summer. The HEAT are hoping to sign a veteran who is willing to take a pay cut in exchange for the opportunity to compete for a title. Miami is looking for a contributor who would prefer a ring to a large contract.
Steve Nash, Chris Kaman, Grant Hill, Andre Miller, Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal are among the players who Miami could target with their mini mid-level exception, according to sources close to the situation. Those players can likely make more money elsewhere, but may be willing to take less to join the HEAT.
Another option for Miami is Brandon Roy, who will attempt to make an NBA comeback next season after retiring last December. Roy could be a low-risk, high-reward signing for Miami. If he’s healthy, he could be a significant contributor off of the bench. The HEAT can be patient with Roy, working with him throughout the season just as they did with Eddy Curry this year. Sources close to Roy believe he wants to sign with a contender.
Miami also holds a first-round pick for the first time since assembling the Big Three. The HEAT have the No. 27 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, which they will likely use on a big man. Fab Melo and Festus Ezeli have been mentioned as possibilities for Miami. Jared Sullinger could also be an option, depending on how far he slips on draft night after being medically red flagged by NBA doctors.
The HEAT are still enjoying the euphoria that comes with winning a championship, but positioning themselves to repeat will become the focus in the coming days. This offseason, Miami will be able to add another piece or two, which could help them defend their title.
Hornets Expected to Buyout Lewis: Rashard Lewis was traded to the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever suit up for the team. Lewis will almost certainly be waived before July 1, according to sources close to the situation. The final year of his contract is worth $22 million, but the Hornets can buy him out at $13.95 million.
By buying out Lewis’ contract, New Orleans will save $8.3 million. At some point in the next week, the Hornets are expected to waive Lewis, which will make him an unrestricted free agent.
The 32-year-old is currently training at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, and sources say he’ll likely sign with a contender once he becomes available. After spending two seasons with the Washington Wizards, Lewis wants to join a winning team so that he can compete for a championship.
Last season, Lewis averaged 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 28 games with the Wizards. During his stint in Washington, the former All-Star was limited by a number of injuries including right knee tendinitis and a bone bruise in his left knee.
Now, sources say Lewis is healthy and capable of being a significant contributor. Lewis was traded to New Orleans in exchange for Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor. Over the course of his 15-year career, he has averaged 16.1 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Garnett Contemplating Retirement: Kevin Garnett found the fountain of youth during the 2012 postseason, averaging 19.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks for the Boston Celtics. Healthy for the first time in several years, Garnett elevated his game and led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals. The 36-year-old had the highest plus/minus of any player in the postseason. After recording just seven 20-point, 10-rebound games in the regular season, he had nine such games in the playoffs.
Garnett’s resurgence seemed to come at the perfect time, just as his contract was about to expire. He showed that he could still be a dominant post presence and improved his stock heading into the offseason. While Garnett will certainly attract interest from a number of teams if he tests free agency, there’s a chance that he has played his last game.
After playing 17 years in the NBA, Garnett is contemplating retirement. He’s unsure if he wants to sign another contract and return to the court next season. Over the next several days, Garnett will weigh his options and decide what’s next for him.
Garnett doesn’t want to continue playing if he can’t be a significant contributor. He’s not going to let the game pass him by, choosing instead to walk away on his own terms. If he decides to continue playing, he’ll likely re-sign with the Celtics rather than starting from scratch with a new organization.
After his outstanding postseason, Garnett has a difficult choice to make. He’ll either continue his prolific career and attempt to win a second championship or he’ll walk away from the game and start the countdown for his Hall of Fame induction. He’s expected to make a decision in the next week.
Evans Hopes to Re-Sign With Wizards: Next month, veterans Mo Evans and Roger Mason Jr. will join Washington Wizards’ assistant coach Sam Cassell in Las Vegas to coach the franchise’s summer league team. Evans and Mason are unrestricted free agents, but may re-sign with Washington this offseason.
After spending the last year and a half in Washington, Evans is open to re-signing with the team.
“If the opportunity is there to re-sign, I would definitely look to try to take advantage,” Evans said. “The Wizards are giving me the opportunity to coach their summer league team with Sam Cassell and Roger Mason Jr. I think that’s going to be a great experience.”
Evans believes Washington is heading in the right direction as a franchise.
“I think the future is extremely bright,” Evans said of the Wizards. “You have to take your hat off to Ernie Grunfeld for the changes that he has been able to make in such a short period of time. He got an extension this summer and he’s been busy at work. He made the Nene trade. He has brought in Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely, Jordan Crawford and other players who have paid huge dividends. Now, adding veterans like Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza, it’ll only help the locker room. That’s what the team needed, to change the identity and change the culture in Washington. Now that they’ve done that, I think the Wizards will be a very relevant bunch going forward.”
Whether or not Evans will be a part of that relevant bunch remains to be seen.
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