It's pretty amazing how quickly things calmed down around the Miami Heat over the past couple days. From the time that Wade, Bosh and LeBron came on board, I knew the day would come where all the focus and attention on the Heat would begin to dwindle. I just didn't think it would be this quickly.
I can't believe it's now been 2 weeks since LeBron James made his public declaration to "take his talent to South Beach". 2 weeks since the Heat had just 4 players on their roster and 2 weeks since players, media, coaches, etc. from around the NBA questioned if and how the Heat would be able to fill out the rest of their roster.
As I discussed yesterday, it certainly didn't take long for Pat Riley to put some very impressive pieces in place. Now with only 2 roster spots left, Riley still has some decisions to make. If he wants to bring in a free agent or two, odds are that player will be leaving money on the table elsewhere in order to join up with Miami.
Guys at the top of my list are guards Rasual Butler, Earl Watson and Jason Williams. The Heat are said to be in the mix with all three, but if it comes down to dollars with any or all of them then Miami could end up holding the short end of the stick.
Williams said that he would "have no problem" with getting less minutes or stepping into whatever role he was asked to play. He's also said that he doesn't want to take a minimum salary, but hopefully that issue will be outweighed by the potential of competing for his 2nd NBA title with the Heat.
Rasaul Butler wouldn't mind a return to Miami, but he is looking for a salary in the $2-$4 million range. That's way more then the Heat will be able to offer him...or any other potential signee. Earl Watson is another guy who would be a solid addition to the Heat, but he's also looking to cash in a bit through free agency.
Watson is looking to make around $2 million in the upcoming season, which isn't terribly far off from what the Heat can give him. Keep in mind that the Heat are limited to offering free agents the $1.1 million veterans minimum, so all their cards are on the table. Riley won't wait around forever to see if any of these guys decide they want to join the Heat.
Should the free agent well be all dried up for Miami, or if they just want to fill the positions in-house, there are always the youngsters who played for the Heat in the Summer League. Patrick Beverly and Kenny Hasbrouck are both viable options at the guard position that played well in the Summer League.
Hasbrouck was signed by the Heat last March to give the team some depth heading into the playoffs, but soon after that the Heat learned of the former Siena College star being charged with DWI in Albany, NY in early February. Hasbrouck was instructed by the Heat to stay away from the team during the Playoffs while they further investigated the incident.
Patrick Beverly played last season in the Euroleague for Olympiacos, honing his craft in hopes of returning to the Heat this season and making their roster. He played well during the Summer League and could indeed find himself wearing a suit at the end of Miami's bench this season.
The ‘dark horse' to make the Heat roster is rookie Da'Sean Butler. He was very good in college, averaging 17.2 points, 6.2 boards and 3.1 assists during his final season at West Virginia. The problem is that during the Mountaineers Final Foul loss to Duke, Butler severely injured his left knee, tearing his ACL and spraining his MCL.
He could be back on the court in time to join the Heat for training camp and it will be interesting to see what he can bring to the table. Miami is already set with players up front (Butler plays forward) but the prospect of him being a good NBA player might be enough for Pat Riley to keep him around.