As basketball fans shift their attention to the upcoming Olympics, the Miami Heat still have two spots left to fill on their roster. Last season, Miami allowed two unknown rookies - Terrel Harris and Mickell Gladness - to join the team, both of whom played for the recently concluded summer league team. Does Pat Riley still need to add veteran experience, or can this team afford to have some young, anonymous prospects?
Let's start with a look at Miami's summer league players. Former second-round picks Robert Dozier and Jarvis Varnado suffered injuries just prior to the start of the games and played poorly when they returned. They may receive invites to training camp, but appear to stand as long-shots to make the team. Justin Hamilton, Miami's 2012 second-round draft pick, showed some promise. The LSU product had a 15-point, 8-rebound effort one night and played better than Dexter Pittman, who continued to struggle with foul issues. But the Heat should look to add a veteran in the middle over an inexperienced player. The Los Angeles Lakers could conceivably defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder next season, and Miami simply needs someone to relieve Chris Bosh from having to defend Andrew Bynum for a seven-game series. And Pittman is not the answer; he looked completely outmatched against Roy Hibbert in his brief stint in Game 3 of the second round.
Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears reported July 18 that Darko Milicic drew interest from the Heat, Clippers, Bulls and Nets. Since then, the Clippers have added Ryan Hollins, and Chicago signed Nazr Mohammed. Milicic would be an upgrade over Pittman, and Erik Spoelstra will simply ask him to rebound, defend and score the occasional basket. If Milicic decides against signing with the defending champions, Miami could bring back Ronny Turiaf.
Six-foot-eight forward Drew Viney arguably stood as one of the Heat's best players during summer league, and he may play in the summer league. But I envision the final roster spot going to Harris. Although he is a two-guard, Harris offers Miami youth and athleticism. Many members of the Heat's supporting cast are north of 30 - Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Shane Battier, James Jones, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Harris scored 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field in a come-from-behind win over the Spurs in the summer league, but he's also displayed solid play against actual NBA players. Harris spurred a burst in an April game against the Memphis Grizzlies, finishing with 10 points and six rebounds. The harsh luxury-tax penalties are scheduled to go into effect starting in the 2013-14 season, so acquiring young players who can earn fewer dollars than veterans will become more important. Miami's two point guards, Mario Chalmers and Cole, are both young. If the Heat bring back Harris and continue to acquire young, diamond-in-the-rough players, Miami can compete for championships for years down the road.