A little less than two months away from the start of the regular season, the Miami Heat have their roster almost set. If they choose to keep Jarvis Varnado, they will have 14 players under contract for next season.
Their entire roster from last season is back with the exception of two. They swapped out Juwan Howard for Greg Oden, who may end up having a similar season to what Howard did last year. They also used their amnesty provision to waive Mike Miller and save them a large chunk of money.
Miller has since moved on, but the Heat have yet to replace him on the roster and the player that makes the most sense is Richard Hamilton. He can play the shooting guard and small forward role just like Miller did. He is an excellent shooter and has a knack for getting open, which will be made easier by playing with LeBron James.
Dwyane Wade is the starting shooting guard for Miami, and Ray Allen is his primary backup. If I were coaching the Heat, neither of them would play more than 65 games and I would probably hold Wade to 55-60.
Last year when Wade didn’t start, they didn’t move Allen into his spot (Allen started zero games in 2012-2013); Erik Spoelstra liked to keep Allen in his bench role, so they moved Miller into the starting five. Miller ended up playing 59 games with 17 starts and averaged 4.8 points in 15.3 minutes per game. Last season, Hamilton played in 50 games with 45 starts and averaged 9.8 points in 21 minutes per game.
Hamilton is no longer the All-Star he was in 2006-2008. He can’t carry a team to the finals and he can’t be depended on to play 36 minutes per game throughout the season.
What he can do is provide the extra depth the team needs to feel comfortable resting Wade and Allen, while still looking to secure the no. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They can use him to start when Wade is out, and he can be the backup when they rest Allen.
If they plan on playing them for weeks consecutively, they can even use him at small forward to give LeBron or Shane Battier a break. He has a championship pedigree, knows how to play excellent team defense and can drive defenses crazy with his ability to run around all night.
With his career coming to an end, will Rip Hamilton put his decade-long rivalry with the Heat behind him and accept a contract for the veterans minimum for a shot at winning ring no.2 and retiring on top?
I hope that all Heat fans would embrace him as they did with Allen and let him come along for the ride to a three-peat.