The Miami Heat had a plan when they traded away Joel Anthony; not only was it about money, but it was also about making room for Greg Oden. Pat Riley knew when Oden would make his debut for the Heat, so he got rid of a loose end and a luxury in Anthony. Miami now has a solid stockpile of big men with Oden, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh and a healthy Rashard Lewis. The frontcourt has shown great improvement from last season, and the hope is that Oden will continue to improve the post presence of the NBA champions.
I think I forgot about one of the big men on the Heat roster. Oh, there still is Udonis Haslem, or what is left of him. Once a prime piece of the 2006 title run, Haslem has been pushed out of his starting role and almost completely out of the rotation. He is only averaging 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, way down from his career numbers of 8.7 points and 7.5 rebounds. He has played in 25 games, starting only six games and averaging a career-low 13 minutes per game.
So, Haslem has fallen off a bit. Between his age, injuries and offseason knee surgery, the big guy has seen better days on the court. The good news for him is he still earned over $4 million this season and has a player option for next season worth over $4 million. That being said, why doesn’t Miami try to trade him before the deadline?
I think it is a great idea for the Heat to ship Haslem off, but who is really going to want to pick him up? If I was Riley, I would look for some young prospects and even draft picks in exchange for Haslem. The biggest reason right now to unload Haslem is to relieve themselves of his contract. I feel pretty confident that he will pick up his player option for next season, and he has expressed interest in retiring in South Beach. If Riley could find a way to trade the longtime Heat big man then he would have more financial flexibility this summer as he convinces Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to stay.
My concern is what happens if Oden blows out his knee or another big man gets hurt? Now there is no insurance policy in Haslem. It might be a risk that Riley is willing to take, though. It opens up options for the summer and gives Miami huge leverage. It even opens up room for Andrew Bynum if Riley is crazy enough, but I highly doubt that would happen.
I think it is unlikely Riley and Miami will be a part of any more deals before the deadline, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the old mastermind pulled something out of his pocket.