With the news that LeBron James is apparently “listening” to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chris Bosh being offered a maximum contract by the Houston Rockets, the Miami Heat have begun their summer onslaught on the NBA free agent market. The reigning Eastern Conference champs received commitments from free agents Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger, adding some leverage tools before James meets with Pat Riley.
In the grand scheme of it all, James holds the key to whether Dwyane Wade, Bosh and himself return to South Beach. Even though the small forward has expressed his yearning for a max-deal, it is possible the thought of more titles can outweigh the strength of greed and money. I’m sure that at some point in his pitch Riley will bring up the San Antonio Spurs. I hope he mentions how their core stuck together for over a decade and have reaped the benefits of taking pay cuts.
The commitments from McRoberts and Granger do help, but they must add two more pieces if the organization truly wishes to bring back the “Big 3”. Digging through the free agent list, there are many enticing players who can make major impacts for small pay. Pau Gasol has been talked about, but Miami cannot execute a deal until they know where James stands financially.
A point guard would help bolster Miami’s stance, but a player such as Vince Carter could be appetizing as well. In his late-30s, Carter is still averaging double-figures. He is still capable of starting but would be much better playing a role such as Ray Allen did. The great part is that the Heat should be able to get Carter cheap, but he might want to know if James is coming back as well because Carter’s days are numbered. Isaiah Thomas is another interesting character, but he might be out of Miami’s price range. However, Devin Harris has been known to be a solid point guard and could be signed at a steal.
Finally, they need a legit big man who can tower at center, hold down the paint, grab rebounds and post up. Miami hasn’t had a player similar to that since Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning. I would like to see Riley go after Emeka Okafor, DeJuan Blair or Andray Blatche. All three are solid big men who specialize in the paint. Blatche and Okafor are both coming off of big contracts, but due to the history of their careers, the Heat could negotiate something. Blair could be dirt cheap and he is just a plain hard-nosed player.
Teams have begun the assault on Miami’s former “Big 3” and South Beach has begun its defense. Actually, counter-attack is a better word, because Riley is never on the defensive end; he is always on the attack. If the Heat can bolt down two more attractive pieces, possibly two of the names mentioned above, it will set Riley up nicely for his meeting with James. After all, if the “Godfather” can convince “The King” to return to South Beach, the rest shall follow.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneRantSports, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com.