The loss of LeBron James seemingly left the Miami Heat scrambling for answers throughout the last two weeks of free agency, but this championship organization has been able to bounce back by signing and re-signing several key players in an attempt to still be on top of the Eastern Conference. The roster still has several holes to fill in terms of depth at the guard and center position, but Pat Riley has done an admirable job of keeping this franchise at title contention levels.
Throughout the 2014 NBA Finals, the Heat’s most notably weak position was at point guard. This hasn’t changed much over the summer, as the Heat have allotted to re-sign Mario Chalmers to a two-year contract, while Norris Cole has another full year on his as well. Although the Heat are electing to go the route of youth and athleticism through their signings of players like Shabazz Napier and James Ennis, this organization desperately needs veteran presence at the point guard position. This is where Jameer Nelson fits in.
Even throughout what was considered a “down” season for Nelson, the veteran point guard averaged 12.1 points, 7.0 assists, and 3.4 rebounds for the Orlando Magic, while shooting 40 percent from the field and 35 percent from beyond the arc. These averages trump what Chalmers was able to bring in as the starting point guard for the Heat, which was just 9.8 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.9 rebounds a game. Both players averaged similar starting minutes, but Nelson was responsible for carrying the offense on a very young and in-experienced Magic team. Chalmers was fortunate enough to be playing with three superstar players, which resulted in way less offensive responsibility.
Nelson wouldn’t have to carry the weight of the offense if he signed with Miami. The Heat still have multiple players who can do just that. His veteran presence could also be crucial in developing a young player like Napier. Bringing Nelson on board would also mean a potential sign and trade of Cole to another team, mostly to have cap space to sign additional role players. No need for four point guards, especially with needed depth in other positions.
Nelson would have to make the sacrifice of signing a veteran’s minimum contract, but he would have the opportunity to make it back to the NBA Finals with the Heat, something he has only done once with the Magic. The Heat are still very much in title contention, even without James, and Nelson could be the starting point guard that helps lead the franchise back to it’s fifth straight NBA Finals appearance.