The Miami Heat are in a bit of a pickle. With much of their future planning dependent on decisions from Goran Dragic and Luol Deng, they have limited flexibility to improve the areas they struggled in throughout the regular season.
With that being said, it's still fun to speculate and thus I've chosen to take a look at realistic free-agents for Miami to pursue during the offseason.
This is first part of my free agent speculation:
Shooters and Scorers:
Miami struggled to score this season. With the absence of reliable three point shooters, and dominant scorers (especially when Chris Bosh went down) when shots were not falling the Heat appeared weak. It's clear that Miami needs a backup for Dwyane Wade, as well as solid contributors around the roster. Thankfully, they might be able to address these concerns for this coming season through free agency.
Mirza Teletovic unfortunately fell victim to an ailment similar to Chris Bosh's during the regular season that sidelined him for three months. Fortunately, he was able to return on April 22nd for Brooklyn's first round series against Atlanta, but was largely unproductive (though that can be chalked up to both rust and limited minutes). With that being said he was still a decent contributor for Brooklyn during his time with the Nets, improving steadily each year. This season Teletovic posted a solid stat line of 8.5 points, and 4.5 rebounds, while shooting 38% from the field. It's expected that Brooklyn tries to re-sign him, yet they might elect to put their faith in the slightly younger Bojan Bogdanovic -- especially with their offseason focus on signing Thaddeus Young.
Teletovic would be good for Miami. He's a spot-up shooter who has the tendency to heat up, and also does a decent job at driving the lane as well as delivering on the defensive end. The Heat need a JJ Redick type player to help bail them out of tight spots and Teletovic might just be their guy.
I think Thaddeus Young is worth the risks that accompany his inconsistencies. While the 2014-2015 season can't be considered his best, he is clearly a very effective player. Young struggled in Minnesota after averaging career numbers in Philly, but a trade to Brooklyn really allowed him to shape up as the season came to a close. While Young's value of course comes from his scoring ability, he's also consistently one of the hardest workers on the hardwood at all times. Young is tenacious, often taking contact when battling in the paint yet his ability to finish is unparalleled. This is well documented in March's contest against the 76ers:
Young would be a perfect fit for Miami as a reliable scoring presence, but the problem lies in his salary situation. At 26 years old, he could search for a larger deal beyond his $10 million dollar player option and with the Luol Deng situation up in the air he might be too expensive. Still there's no denying his ability, and how it would benefit the Heat as Wade continues to age.
While Gerald Henderson has pretty much flown under the radar as of late, (albeit one incident involving a woman in the crowd and a basketball) he's a solid basketball player and could be a great contributor for the Heat off the bench, especially if they can get him at a discount.
nailed a lady tonight with a pass.if u follow me on twitter PLEASE tweet me. I know that hurt. I'm not that good of a passer...I AM SO SORRY— Gerald Henderson (@GhJr09) November 30, 2013
What generally accompanies Henderson is the term "average", and while unfortunate for him this isn't really a problem for the Heat. The Heat don't need Henderson to be a star, but rather just perform to his career averages. Henderson was a solid fantasy option this season down the stretch (for those who play fantasy basketball) and a lot of that had to do with the surprising regression of Lance Stephenson. Henderson averaged 12.1 points, 2.6 points, and 3.4 points this season while also performing very well on defense. In fact, defense is probably where Henderson is at his best, playing with a Shane Battier aggressiveness with a little bit more athleticism. In fact, he's one of the only players I've ever found a defensive highlight compilation of.
Needless to say Henderson could help the Heat in many areas, but it's hard to imagine that he's at the top of their list.
Arron Afflalo is not coming off of his best season. After having a career year with the Orlando Magic in the 2013-2014 season, Afflalo wasn't able to replicate his success in Denver or later in Portland this year. Even after Wesley Matthews fell victim to a gruesome injury and gave Afflalo a huge opportunity, he just wasn't able to fill the gap. Afflalo could still very well be an asset for the Miami Heat. This season he averaged 13.3 points, 1.7 assists, and 3.2 rebounds.
Obviously most of contributions would come on the offensive front, but that's hardly a bad thing. Afflalo is a talented shooter, and like JJ Redick he can get open with ease. Afflalo's ability to spread the floor and offer a legitimate outside shooting threat would be huge for Miami. As Wade's backup he wouldn't have too much pressure in his role, and might finally find some relief in stability rather than being constant trade bait.
It almost seemed as if everybody forgot about Chase Budinger following his "White Men can't Jump" homage in the dunk contest a few years back, but he's still around and doing work. After overcoming injury, Budinger finally found his way back to Minnesota's rotation late in the season and he was a force for the Wolves. In the month of April, Budinger averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, all while shooting 45% from beyond the arc. I like Budinger for the Heat, because he can do more than just shoot the three ball. While he's not the rim destroyer he was earlier in his career, Budinger does a good job finishing in traffic as well as getting creative in the mid-range.
He's a risky play given his injury riddled past, yet he could be very beneficial for Miami given the chance.
I really do believe these players could potentially be of interest to the Heat this offseason. I like to believe Miami is searching for a more reliable scoring presence than Henry Walker, but I could very well be mistaken. I will continue to look at potential free agents Miami might acquire in the second part of this series. However, if you feel someone was left off this list make it known in the comments and I'll take them into account.