Jun 21, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat owner Micky Arison and Heat president Pat Riley hold up the Larry O'Brien Trophy after winning the 2012 NBA championship against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the American Airlines Arena. Miami won 121-106. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
What do you make of the Heat's decision to pass on this draft for a lottery-protected, potentially higher pick next year? Was it only to save money or are there other motives behind the decision?
Diego Quezada: We can't grade this trade until we see what the Heat do with the future first-round pick from the Philadelphia 76ers. Miami traded away its first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 -- when the Heat were a middling East team, like the Sixers -- and Ty Lawson and Eric Bledsoe were picked there. If the Heat can get a player the caliber of Lawson, the trade looks great. I am inclined to agree with Pat Riley when he said that the deal was made not because of the luxury tax, but because the Heat weren't enamored with the players remaining. I simply don't get the argument that the Heat traded the pick because of tax concerns. Eddy Curry and Juwan Howard each made more money than Norris Cole did this year. It's much more sensible to use up the last spots on the roster with young, developmental players as opposed to paying more money to washed-up veterans.
Surya Fernandez: Classic Riley move. He'll always prefer savvy veteran experience in the postseason over an untested rookie. Yes, it can be a great way to harvest talent on the cheap but it's not the Riley way and hasn't been since he joined the Heat. Two rings later, I'd say we give him the benefit of the doubt. The Heat still need to unload draft pics to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors as part of the LeBron James and Chris Bosh sign-and-trades so Heat fans shouldn't start getting sentimental over the Sixers first round pick that must be forwarded to Miami.
Does Hamilton make the roster and who has to leave in order to create that roster spot?
Surya: With the somewhat-surprising move by Ronny Turiaf to opt out and test the market, Hamilton's shot at making the roster increased. Dexter Pittman appears to be safe, Eddy Curry is a question mark and Juwan Howard needs to make a decision on his future too. Even with a roster spot open, the Heat might choose to take a good look at free agency or a player that is in the Heat summer league like Mickell Gladness or Jarvis Varnado who are quicker, more athletic and can swat shots and will fit better in this new, "small ball" lineup with Battier or LeBron at the 4.
Diego: Hamilton's chances certainly improved when Ronny Turiaf decided to become a free agent, but the odds are still against him. The Heat have Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony and Dexter Pittman under contract now. Jarvis Varnado, the 2010 second-round pick, will participate in Miami's summer league team, and he'll have a better chance of making the roster because of his athleticism. If the Heat also sign a power forward/center in free agency like J.J. Hickson, Hamilton's chances are pretty much zilch. Hamilton will probably spend a year in Europe before Riley re-evaluates him again.
Should Boston's picks worry Miami? Did any other East team significantly improve on draft day?
Surya: It's considered to be a deep draft so many players should be able to give some quality minutes to their teams but the NBA Draft alone is not going to realistically close the gap between the Heat and the rest of the East. That includes the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls. Quite frankly, there aren't too many playoff teams with enough cap room to sign a difference maker either. Plus, some rookies hit the ground running while others take longer to develop and there are the rest where they don't pan out. In the meantime, the Heat will happily continue working with what they have.
Diego: Danny Ainge apparently didn't get the message that the style of play in the 2012 NBA Finals -- athleticism and versatility with no need for a traditional, low-post center -- is the future of the league. While the Los Angeles Lakers won two championships with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Mitch Kupchak tried to trade Gasol and Lamar Odom for Chris Paul to get more athletic on the perimeter. The 7-foot Fab Melo couldn't even grab six boards a game in college. That seems like a red flag to me. The Celtics should've gotten a wing to relieve Paul Pierce of minutes instead of Melo. Unlike many others, I'm OK with their selection of Jared Sullinger, especially when considering that Brandon Bass is now a free agent. As far as the rest of the East, the lottery teams made common-sense moves, but the playoff teams didn't significantly improve.
Is Ray Allen the right fit for the Heat, as LeBron thinks? Who else should be top free agent targets for the Heat?
Diego: Ray Allen would be a good pick-up for the Heat, especially because Mike Miller is considering retirement. If the Heat continue to use Shane Battier and LeBron James at the 4 and Bosh at the 5, the Heat will need that sixth man to add some scoring punch. Miami is so dangerous when it flanks the Big Three with 3-point shooters, and Allen is still a fantastic shooter despite his age. On the other hand, Allen isn't good defensively, and Miami needs help on the frontline. If the Heat had to choose between Odom and Allen, I'd prefer Odom. But now that Odom won't be a free agent, I'm OK that Allen apparently stands as the Heat's primary target. But I'd still like the Heat to look for a PF/C like Hickson and tell him that he can sign a one-year deal with the Heat, play well and make more money next year.
Surya: LeBron is a wise man. Yes, Ray would fit in just fine. He's fantastic coming off picks and working all ends of the floor without the ball until he can get to his spot. As the Finals proved, good things happen when the Heat have a dynamic, kinetic offense. Of course, with that ultra quick release, his outside shooting forces the opposing team to choose whether to help out on LeBron and/or Wade penetrating and being forced to leave Allen wide open to punish the defense. My other top pick if Allen signs elsewhere would be Jason Terry, who could arguably be a better fit because he's younger, healthier and can give more on defense as well.
How important is the offseason for the Heat with a championship core already in place?
Diego: Even if Miller retires, the Heat will come in October with a largely intact rotation. James, Wade, Bosh, Chalmers, Battier, Haslem and Anthony are all under contract. The vast majority of teams would like to be in the Heat's position this summer, feeling no need to make major changes. I thought the Heat wasted a roster spot with Curry and could've used a point guard, but it was the 15th spot after all. If the Heat came in October with Allen, Hickson and Varnado as the new additions, I'd be very pleased. But is it very important? Not so much.
Surya:The playoff rotation core pretty much remains the same so it's important to reel in a solid player or two to solidify the balance of the roster but other than that, the Heat are good to go for next season. There's still time to make trades up until the deadline or pick up players off waivers and buyouts during the season so Riley can choose to tweak the roster long after the offseason if he chooses to do so.