As NBA free agency approaches, no team is under a brighter spotlight than the Miami Heat. The primary focus is on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh and their decision to stay or leave Miami. Yet, even if the Big Three return, Miami’s front office will still have to reconfigure the rest of the roster to build a stronger supporting cast. As the NBA Finals proved, the Heat cannot win a championship without upgrading the pieces around their stars.
Luckily for Miami, one player who would be an ideal fit for the team just became available. Channing Frye opted out of the final year of his contract with the Phoenix Suns and will become an unrestricted free agent. The 31-year-old was set to make $6.8 million next season, but decided to pursue a long-term contract this offseason.
Frye played very well for Phoenix last season; the power forward started all 82 games after missing the 2012-13 season due to an enlarged heart. He averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in just over 28 minutes per game for the Suns. Frye’s biggest strength is his outside shooting; he hit 37 percent from beyond the arc and had an effective field goal percentage of 53.5 percent.
Frye’s perimeter-oriented game would blend beautifully into Miami’s offense. The Heat could use Frye as Shane Battier 2.0 and position him in the corner for open three-point looks on drives by James and Wade. Miami could also use Frye as a weapon in pick-and-pop action. Moreover, head coach Erik Spoelstra would be able to set his rotation so that either Bosh or Frye are on the court at all times. This would force opposing teams to position at least one of their big men along the perimeter, creating more space for Miami’s offense to operate.
In order to sign Frye, Miami would likely need to offer him the full mid-level exception. Generating the requisite cap room would require the Big Three to opt out of their deals and take less money as well as Udonis Haslem restructuring his contract. While Frye would still likely be offered more money from another team, the Heat can offer the veteran a chance to win a title. At this point in his career, that has to be a strong consideration for him.