As we wait for free agency to roll around, it's easy to speculate what is going to happen with the Miami Heat roster. I'll refrain from throwing names around that the Heat could potentially go after, and instead focus on the things we have to work with. You have heard me say it many times, and it something that I will always go by as his track record has given me no reason to think otherwise; "In Pat We Trust".
Starting at the top, centers Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Dexter Pittman are all signed for next season. That doesn't necessarily mean that all 3 will make the final roster, but each one has a guaranteed paycheck. The only one who I think has a chance of not making the roster is Big Z, but my guess would be that all of them are with the team next year.
I'm hoping that Pittman has a very good summer and develops into someone who can contribute 10-15 minutes per game off the bench, but he is still very young at 23 years old and only got to play a handful of minutes at the end of the season. Still, he practiced with the team for a good amount of time and will continue to improve under the tutelage of Erik Spoelstra and his coaching staff.
Zydrunas' spot on the roster is a wild card depending on what the Heat do in free agency. As for Joel, he should have a place on this team for years to come and I fully expect him to slowly but surely get better on the same path he has been going down for the past several years. I have the ultimate respect for someone who has worked as hard and tirelessly as him, and it shows on the court.
We know Miami is set at power forward with Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, though I expect them to have someone that can back the two of them up in an emergency. Following the injury events that took place last season they would be foolish to not have someone there just in case. Juwan Howard was good in that position for that very reason and if he doesn't retire it wouldn't surprise me to see him come back at the veteran's minimum.
At the swing positions only LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mike Miller are under contract for next season. Eddie House has a player option for $1.39 million that he will likely pick up, unless he wants to go somewhere that he will get more guaranteed playing time. The thought of bringing back James Jones has crossed my mind as I'm sure it has Pat Riley, and we'll just have to wait and see how that plays out.
That leaves us with point guard, and at the moment there are none under contract. A qualifying offer has been made to Mario Chalmers, which means if any other teams offer him one the Heat can match it. Miami also has their draft pick from a few days ago, Norris Cole. He could very well end up being a main contributor but until we get to training camp it still remains a question mark.
The only knock on Cole is his inconsistent shooting. He drives with the ball well which leads to free throws. He is a quick defender that works hard and has a drive to improve. Also, he can facilitate the ball well which is key considering the team he is joining. Cole and Chalmers could very well end up being the 1-2 punch for Miami at the point, but as of now I'm sure Riley is weighing his options.
We'll have to wait and see what the Heat end up doing in the free agent market, and I'm sure it will be something. Until then though, there is still a better foundation in place then any other team in the NBA has to work with. In the coming weeks the rest of the open roster spots will start to get filled, but at least Miami has what they have right now.