When it came out yesterday that the Carlos Arroyo was going to be returning to the Heat, it got me thinking about our roster. Carlito makes 13 guys signed, sealed and ready to go for the 2010-11 season. 13 guys that could very well be considered as one of the best rosters of all-time when all is said and done.
Arroyo coming back got me to thinking about all the returning players from the Heat's team of last season. Looking at just those guys, I realized that there is a pretty decent team there, considering that its just 7 guys. Here are the returnees: D-Wade, Arroyo, Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers and Jamaal Magloire.
Obviously not a ‘scary' team to face, but that's a pretty damn good group of guys that Pat Riley decided to bring back. It's a great foundation to build around, and I think its safe to say that Riley has done the best possible job in the history of making teams when thinking about who he brought in to play around those guys.
Now looking at the free agent class that Super-Pat brought in...it's a list that any NBA team would drool over if you told them they had a chance of doing what Riley did. Pffft....the first two guys on the list would be more then enough for any team out there. Hell, just one of those two would make for a very successful off-season.
LeBron James, Chris Bosh...both are considered by many to be the best at their respective positions; or if not the best then damn close to it. Just the fact that they are both in the discussion is enough for me. Adding ‘just' those two guys (or even one of them) to the returning cast of Heat players puts Miami in instant contention to come out of the East every year.
Riley and Micky Arison were far from done, and it's looking at these moves when I began to really understand how special of a thing we are all witnessing down here. At this point, looking at the roster we see Wade, Bosh and LeBron along with the remaining team from 2009; Haslem, Chalmers, Anthony, Magloire, Arroyo and Jones.
Add to that the sharpshooter that I've been hoping for Riley to bring in for the last 2 seasons...Mike Miller. I wasn't specifically asking for Miller, but since the 08-09 season all I've wanted was for the Heat to add a consistent outside shooter to knock down the open looks that Dwyane Wade provides when doing his thing. The looks are going to be even more open now that King James and the Boshinator are in town.
So at this point, the 10 guys I've mentioned would be more then enough for any team to think very strongly about making a run at the Larry O'Brian trophy. However, we all know that Riley wasn't done yet. What's that old saying? ‘The rich get richer'. Yeah...the Heat definitely falls under that category after the July they've had.
I'm sure that the majority of Heat fans would be perfectly happy with the front line of Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Jamaal Magloire. Miami wasn't stopping there though, actively pursuing and eventually signing a pair of very productive big guys that add even more depth to their already solid 4 and 5 positions.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a 14-year veteran who has proven his worth in the NBA throughout his career. He should step right in and with the decrease in minutes and pressure to produce, I imagine that we'll get the best out of ‘The Igloo' on a consistent basis.
Still not finished, Riley then brought in Juwan Howard who is coming off of a very productive season with Portland. This is a guy who played in over 70 games last year, starting 27 of them, and doing a damn good job. Now he'll be playing behind Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem while Ilgauskas will join Joel Anthony and Jamaal Magloire in the Heat's amazingly deep power rotation.
These veterans aren't shy about saying the reason they want to come to Miami and play for minimum contracts is because they want a shot at a ring before retiring. The issue I have with that is some skeptics are trying to take credit away from Pat Riley for those players choosing to join the Heat.
Pat may not have been using the same negotiating tactics that he brought out for LeBron and Bosh, but he is still 100% the reason why each and every one of these free agents came to Miami. It's because of Riley that we have the ‘Miami Thrice', Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, etc. Without making all that happen, Ilgauskas and Howard probably would have gone elsewhere to chase their title.
Whether he spoke 200 words to these free agents or just 2, Pat Riley deserves every single ounce of credit for creating this team. Many would say that Riley's legacy was already golden, that he was one of the most important people in NBA history for everything he has done since coming into the league in 1967.
The 2010-11 version of the Heat is just the latest thing on a long list of accomplishments during Riley's career, but don't think that he is done here. Miami's roster is going to change somewhat frequently over the next few years as the role players will come and go, and there is no reason to think that Pat wont continue to ‘wow' us with the quality of talent he places around our ‘big 3'.