10 NBA Free Agents the Miami Heat Should Take a Good, Long Look at This Summer

It's been a little difficult to think about basketball this week for Heat fans, especially with so much uncertainty swirling around the Big Three and several other free agents. The Heat clearly have needs to fill and they all center around one glaring issue: Depth. This is a team that straight up ran out of gas in the last three games of the Finals and the one thing they need more than anything is a deeper bench. And it hasn't gotten any easier since Sunday. Shane Battier has already announced his retirement and Chris Anderson announced that he will opt out of his contract, likely looking for more money at a time when the Heat can't afford to pay him. Mario Chalmers's spot on the Heat roster is in jeopardy as well. On the bright side, Udonis Haslem has expressed a desire to restructure his deal to free some cap space. If the Big Three has any desire to continue their dynasty by winning more championships, they will likely have to do the same...

1. Depth
2. Size/Length
3. Youth
4. Defense
5. Point Guard Play
6. Offense Creators
7. Shooting

UR = Unrestricted Free Agent; R = Restricted Free Agent; PO = Player Option

1. Marcin Gortat - UR - C - 6'11"

A perfect fit for the Heat: an athletic center who can rebound, block shots, and knock down mid-range jumpers. Doesn't provide much offense but he doesn't need to and he shoots a high percentage. Fulfills three of top four needs and just turned 30 but has only played 6 years in the NBA. Put this guy on the Heat and they beat the Spurs in 6. Might cost upwards of $10 million/year after his performance in the playoffs.

2. Kyle Lowry - UR - PG - 6'0"

Lowry would be the Heat's starting point guard immediately. Plays exactly the kind of disruptive defense the Heat make a living off of and plays with great effort and aggression. Excellent creator and distributor and great rebounder for his size. Has youth on his side. He also automatically puts the Heat over the Spurs in 6. Might cost upwards of $10 million/year with Toronto so close to the next level. Fulfills five of the team's top six needs.

3. Luol Deng - UR - SF - 6'8"

Another perfect fit for the Heat. Athletic and skillful scorer, passer, and defender with high IQ, exceptional length, and a great attitude. Very versatile and fulfills several needs. Already making over $14 million/year but may take less to play with LeBron.

4. Trevor Ariza - UR - SF - 6'8"

Long, athletic defender and tremendous rebounder who can shoot the lights out in bunches. Originally from Miami. Might cost upwards of $10 million/year after his performance in the playoffs.

5. Shaun Livingston - UR - PG - 6'7"

Big point guard with great vision and ballhandling who doesn't turn the ball over. Would be a great reserve point guard. Past injury is a concern but would be a cheap addition at a position of need.

6. Eric Bledsoe - R - PG - 6'1"

Strong, young, athletic point guard who can create on offense. Has a lot to learn about being a pure point guard and making good decisions. Value may get driven up by teams willing to overpay for him.

7. Evan Turner - UR - G/F - 6'7"

Young and talented. Can handle the ball, move without the ball and finish, rebound, and defend. Not particularly athletic. May have played down his value after the trade to Indiana.

8. Greivis Vasquez - R - PG - 6'6"

Big point guard with good passing and decision-making skills. Could be a phenomenal back-up or even start eventually. Shouldn't be too expensive.

9. Josh McRoberts - PO - PF - 6'10"

Young big guy who can rebound and block shots. Issues with consistency. Not very athletic. Shouldn't be too expensive.

10. Rodney Stuckey - UR - SG - 6'5"

Good, athletic scorer to back up Dwyane Wade. May be worth more to another team than he is to the Heat.

Top Three "Realistic" 2014-15 Miami Heat Ten-Man Rotations:

1. Starters: PG Kyle Lowry* SG Dwyane Wade SF LeBron James PF Chris Bosh C Marcin Gortat; Bench: G Norris Cole, G Ray Allen, F Rashard Lewis, F Josh McRoberts, F Udonis Haslem

(Dream Lineup. This one might be a little costly but it would be pretty magical. Shooting, defense, and rebounding ALL OVER the place, the ability to give all five starters plenty of rest with so much talent in the starting lineup. This would easily be the best starting five in the NBA. If the Heat can clear out about $25 million by dumping Chalmers and convincing the Big Three and Udonis Haslem to take less money, this would be a dream rotation. This team would easily be the favorite to win the 2015 NBA Championship if the Spurs don't make any significant moves.)

2. Starters: PG Norris Cole SG Dwyane Wade SF LeBron James PF Chris Bosh C Marcin Gortat; Bench: G Shaun Livingston***, G Ray Allen, F Luol Deng**, F Josh McRoberts, F Rashard Lewis

(This one has a bit less firepower in the starting lineup, instead beefing up the bench. Luol Deng could be Sixth Man of the Year on this team. Still plenty of talent and defense in the starting lineup and the ability to get them plenty of rest with a very deep bench. This would probably cost about as much, if not more than #1 unless Deng and Gortat are willing to take less to play with LeBron. This team would still be my favorite to win the 2015 NBA Championship if the Spurs stand pat.)

3. Starters: PG Kyle Lowry* SG Dwyane Wade SF LeBron James PF Chris Bosh C Josh McRoberts; Bench: G Shaun Livingston***, G Ray Allen, F Luol Deng**, F Udonis Haslem, F Rashard Lewis

(This is basically #2 with Kyle Lowry replacing Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem replacing Marcin Gortat, which bumps McRoberts into the starting lineup for his defense and rebounding. Could easily keep Norris Cole in place of Livingston for youth and health concerns. Not quite as much depth or size but still a highly capable bench and tons of talent and defense in the starting lineup. Matches up well with all the top teams in the East and West.)

* Could replace Lowry with Eric Bledsoe if he's willing to take less money than Lowry. You sacrifice defense, PG play, and tenacity.
** Could replace Deng with Trevor Ariza if he's willing to take less money (not very likely unless Gortat jumps ship). You sacrifice playmaking and intangibles. Could also replace with Evan Turner to save money. You sacrifice some athleticism but gain some youth.
*** Could be replaced with Greivis Vasquez. Not as many injury concerns but also not as proven.

Bottom Line: The top two priorities for the Heat this summer should easily be Marcin Gortat and Kyle Lowry with emphasis on Luol Deng as well. Getting one of these guys would immediately improve the team. Getting two would be a coup and make the Heat the odds on favorite to win a third title in four years. If you can't get Gortat, McRoberts would be a handy big guy for cheap. If you can't get Lowry, Shaun Livingston or Greivis Vasquez would make a good backup, and maybe you could even convince Eric Bledsoe to take less money than Lowry and less than he could get elsewhere. Or you could just stand pat at PG and rely on your overall depth to elevate the games of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole by limiting their minutes. If you can't get Deng, you either need to load up the starting lineup or find bench help from some combination of Trevor Ariza (if he'll take less money), Evan Turner, Shaun Livingston, or Josh McRoberts. McRoberts would be a nice cheap big to pick up no matter what happens. Turner could also be a nice cheap piece if someone doesn't overpay for him. We'll probably never see the dream lineup of Lowry, Wade, James, Bosh, and Gortat, but hey, we said the same thing about the Big Three.


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