Final Heat roster spot up for grabs among training camp hopefuls

Charlie Westbrook playing defense - Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat have less than 12 days to trim their roster from 20 to 15. Who has the inside track to make the cut?

The Miami Heat are nearing the end of their preseason and extended training camp. With the team set to start the season on October 29th against the Chicago Bulls, the Heat must trim their roster to no more than 15 players by that time.

In case you didn't know, Miami has 12 players with guaranteed contracts.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Rashard Lewis.

That means they have 8 players in training camp who are fighting for 3 roster spots. Of those 8 players, Jarvis Varnado is the only one who holds a guaranteed contract for the season if he is still on the roster by opening night. This means if the Heat keep any of the other 7 players on the roster, they can cut them loose at any point through most of the season without a contract guaranteed. Here's the rest of the roster:

Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, Jarvis Varnado, Charlie Westrbook, Roger Mason Jr., Justin Hamilton, Eric Griffin, and Larry Drew III.

As you can see, it is very likely the Heat keep Greg Oden and Michael Beasley, as a lot of excitement surrounding their arrivals this summer as the key acquisitions. If that's the case, there is only one roster spot available between the remaining 6 players. Let's take a look at each one.

Jarvis Varnado
Varnado is a terrific young talent. He spent the remainder of last season with the Heat, experiencing the championship run. However, despite Varnado's upside, the downside is that he has a guaranteed contract. This means it would strap Miami financially from making moves later in the season if another name became available around the buy-out time. This is Varnado's biggest enemy at the moment, and likely the reason he won't make the team come the season.

Charlie Westrbook
Westbrook is a 6'4 athletic guard out of South Dakota. He is the type of player that Miami could use in the absence of Wade when hurt, but he hasn't been given a whole lot of exposure during the preseason, maxing out at 9 minutes and 5 points agains the Pistons. That could change, but Westbrook will need to be noticeable in order to make the cut.

Roger Mason Jr.
Of all the remaining, Mason Jr. seems the have the inside track. He has been very productive for the preseason, seemingly still having his touch from the outside. Because he is a veteran, Roger has the respect of his teammates and could fit very well inside the Heat locker room. The only downfall is that the Heat would not be gaining someone they could begin to build for the future with as he is 33 years old. Regardless, unless someone impresses more than they are already, Mason has the inside track to making the team because he can stretch the floor.

Justin Hamilton
The 2012 draft selection of the Miami Heat was hoping this would be his opportunity to make the team after being overseas last year. And Hamilton has been impressive and effective. What the Miami Heat will need to figure out is if they believe Oden will really be a factor, and if they still want to use Joel Anthony. If neither of those are the case, Hamilton could make his way onto the roster of Roger Mason. Hamilton has the size and shooting touch to be useful on the Heat, but only in the regular season. It's said because if Miami chooses to go another route, someone will snatch up Hamilton for their roster and Miami won't have another chance.

Eric Griffin
Griffin has had a good training camp and preseason, he just isn't ready for NBA basketball with the Miami Heat. He is a good inside player, but he doesn't contain enough intangibles to be used regularly by the Heat nor does he warrant a roster spot. Don't expect Griffin to be here much longer.

Larry Drew IIII
Drew has not been very impressive during the preseason. He seems to lack control as a point guard, and isn't the ideal change of pace behind Chalmers and Cole. I'd be surprise if he is around next week.

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So that's it. That's your updated roster break down. Six players fighting for 1 spot, likely coming down to Justin Hamilton and Roger Mason Jr. My guess is Roger Mason. What do you think?

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