Miami Heat rosterHere we are again! Another off-season nearly over, and we are on the verge of another terrific NBA season with Miami Heat basketball. As you know, the Heat are scheduled for their media day availability on Monday, September 30, and then they will begin training camp the following day in the Bahamas.
For the Heat, the past few seasons, training camp has been about furnishing the roster at the bottom while setting their sights on a united team concept. Heading to the Bahamas will give the team the opportunity to bond as the Eglon base camp did in 2010 and the exhibition games in China last season. One of the focuses of training camp for the coaches and front office is to see how they want to finish up the roster.
It's been made public that it is entirely possibly that the Heat will not bring a maximum 15 players in the regular season, possibly electing to go fewer to reduce luxury tax penalty. Remember, Miami is already one of the biggest tax payers in the league. But in the event that they do, deciding who takes the final roster spots can be a bit of a puzzle, so let's look at the options available.
Miami currently has 12 players on guaranteed contracts (Wade, James, Bosh, Haslem, Chalmers, Cole, Andersen, Anthony, Jones, Battier, Allen, Lewis). Then, they have two players that are extremely likely to make the team, but just don't have guaranteed deals in Greg Oden and Michael Beasley. And lastly, last years 15th man Jarvis Varnado has a contract that becomes guaranteed if he is on the roster on opening night.
My perception, which could obviously be very wrong, is that we should look at the Heat roster as having 14 players who are on the roster, including Oden and Beasley. And they also have a 15th man in Varnado that will have to overly impress to keep his job.
Here's the deal: Varnado is a nice little player, but as we have seen from Riley in the past, he'd rather keep an open roster spot for someone who may shake loose later in free agency or a buyout than limit his flexibility. And if all goes well with Beasley and Oden, he won't want to drop them. I suspect Varnado doesn't make the team simply for roster flexibility. Don't forget, the Heat still have the mini mid-level exception of about $3 million to offer someone if they choose.
So what happens with the last roster spot?
The possibilities are endless. No, they aren't really. There are a few. On the Heat's training camp roster are 2012 draft choice and 7'0 big man Justin Hamilton. They also signed Larry Drew II and they have swingman Eric Griffin. If you're keeping count - that's 18 player invited to training camp, with 20 being the maximum allowed.
The depth chart breaks down as follows:
PG - Chalmers, Cole
SG - Wade, Allen
SF - James, Battier, Jones
PF - Haslem, Beasley, Lewis
C - Bosh, Andersen, Anthony, Oden
Seems as though the need would not be for another center, and so are Justin Hamilton's chances limited? Yes. But that doesn't mean it isn't possible. Miami has kept big men on the roster, like Juwan Howard who won't play. In all honesty, the 15th man just needs to have really nice suits and be ready to cheer like Dexter Pittman. But Hamilton has displayed a nice range that would be beneficial for the Heat. He has been working at the AAA all summer and could be the best option.
If Hamilton is the best player, he may get the chance. But could Miami go with a player like Larry Drew II? Drew is a 6'2 point guard. There were a few times last season that Mario Chalmers missed games and Norris Cole was responsible for too many minutes. Spoelstra doesn't like using Wade at the point. A third point guard could be beneficial at times. Earlier we thought Myck Kabongo could run for that position, but apparently he was too much of a project. Is Drew mature enough to wait his time on the bench with the champs? Regardless, if he is a viable option with a non guaranteed deal, he may be an ideal fit for the last spot.
I don't believe Eric Griffin has much of a shot at the position, but I could be wrong. If he displays enough ability to create off the dribble, it could be what Miami wants at this time. He is a 6'8 lean wing player, but if he has able to play shooting guard, he has a chance.
And remember, Riley has a few more days to add two more players to his roster before leaving for the Bahamas. Von Wafer and Roger Mason Jr. have been monitered and discussed among the Heat executives and could also receive an invitation to camp. Wafer would offer that shooting guard size type player off the dribble, while Mason Jr. would have the size along with the long-distance shot. All are possibilities, and it's mildly intriguing.
I think it's safe to say that whoever takes this 15th roster spot is just going to be collecting pay checks from the bench and hoping not to be waived come February or March when their contracts would become guaranteed. But Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley know what they are looking for, and they will get it. Keep your eye out during training camp, but don't look for the answers until closer to the end of preseason games for the Heat to make their final choice.
Whenever and whatever they do, Hot Hot Hoops will be there to cover it for you.
What would you like to see Miami do with the end of their roster?