If there’s one thing learned by watching the rest of the NBA playoffs unfold it’s the realization that size matters. It’s what separates the pretenders from the contenders and the Heat need some quality big men quick. We all know which players are the big prizes in free agency that could help in that category but what if they choose other teams instead? Could the Heat use their abundant cap space in trades to be able to contend against Orlando, Boston, L.A. and the rest of the elite teams? Here are some trade scenarios featuring big men rumored to be on the market and what the Heat could do to get them.
Sign and trade Udonis Haslem to the Lakers for Lamar Odom
For all the size on the Lakers roster, there’s no denying that they’re really more of a finesse team with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. When the Lakers don’t bring enough defensive intensity as demonstrated in their losses against the Celtics in the Finals, they have a look of a team that’s soft despite all their talent. If the Lakers need some grit and muscle down in the paint, they would be wise to consider Udonis Haslem. On top of being an excellent complimentary piece to Kobe Bryant as he’s already shown with Dwyane Wade, he already has championship experience to boot. Unfortunately, the Lakers had the league’s highest payroll for the 2009-10 season at more than $91 million and have almost $14 million committed next year to oft-injured Bynum so just signing Haslem outright isn’t possible as they’ve already used their mid level exception on Ron Artest last summer. Odom and Haslem’s contracts would match up and Odom has always been fond of his Miami days and was happy to be courted by the Heat last summer. Even better, his reasonable contract wouldn’t hurt the Heat’s chances of signing a max free agent and he would be assured of a starting job and a heavy presence on the Heat’s offense with his playmaking abilities.
Swap #2 overall picks with the Sixers and grab Elton Brand
From Anthony Mason to Ike Austin to Jermaine O’Neal, Riley loves big men who need a jump start in their careers and no one could benefit more from a change of scenery than Elton Brand. Rumors have swirled since the Sixers won the second pick in the draft that it could be had if they could also unload Brand and his gigantic $15+ million a year contract that has three more years on it. While it would eat a huge chunk off the Heat’s cap space, a trade that would see Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook, James Jones and the #18 pick go would also take their contracts off the Heat’s books. If Brand were to regain some explosiveness by working hard with Riley’s impeccable training staff over the summer then this trade could pay huge dividends coupled with the second overall pick in this draft. The Heat could pick from 6-10 Derrick Favors or 6-11 DeMarcus Cousins if they wanted to get even bigger or possibly trade down and still have a lottery pick and net more assets. There still would be enough left over in cap space to plug a few more holes in the roster.
Acquire Emeka Okafor and Darren Collison from the Hornets
It’s no secret that the New Orleans Hornets need to shed salary and are looking to dump several big contracts to other teams. But don’t hold your breath that Chris Paul will necessarily be available or that the Heat would have the assets to pry him away even if he was. Ah, but the Hornets will definitely listen to offers for his promising young backup Darren Collison if the other team agrees to take back one of their big contracts (as reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein
) and the Heat should have no problems absorbing Emeka Okafor’s $11 million dollar contract if Beasley, Jones and Cook are moved to the Hornets. With Beasley in hand, the Hornets could also unload David West’s $9 million dollar contract or simply keep Beasley as a high scoring sixth man who would benefit greatly running the floor with CP3. In Okafor, Riley would have a 6-10 center that’s a guaranteed double-double, superb shot blocker and fierce defender by the rim and fills a huge need at point guard in Collison who would make a tantalizing backcourt running mate with Wade.
Trade Beasley to the Trailblazers for Greg Oden
A bit of a stretch admittedly, but the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman seems to think this rumor has some legs with the impending shakeup in the Blazers front office. The Blazers do already have plenty of size but perhaps not enough offense so they might be convinced to unload the oft-injured Oden to the Heat but it’s more logical that if he was on the market that they could get better offers for him from other teams. Perhaps a new start across the coast might be beneficial for both of these young, misunderstood players.
Tyson Chandler opts out of his contract and signs with Heat
Chandler wasn’t even an afterthought among potential free agents this summer but ESPN’s Chad Ford reports
that he might consider opting out and getting a new contract ahead of the new collective bargaining agreement. Supposedly in good health finally after a couple of years Chandler could be in position to get big bucks thanks to the dearth of quality big men in this summer’s hyped free agency market. If this is indeed true then the Heat would do well to take a long look at him before committing max money to a player like Amar’e Stoudemire who has also has an injury history and has an aversion to playing defense. Much like Okafor, Chandler would bring much needed size and quality defense, rebounding and shot blocking. If a sign-and-trade is needed to facilitate the transaction then the Heat might pull the trigger so more cap space could be cleared in order to sign another max free agent to pair with Wade.