Miami's point guard position, a longtime weakness for the team, is now an area of strength. The recently re-signed Goran Dragic looks to push the pace for the Miami Heat, who shot a league-low 77.4 attempts per game last season. And there are at least two backup PG's already on the roster and a third - promising rookie Josh Richardson - that has yet to be signed by the team. Should Richardson be added, it's likely that among the two players above him (Mario Chalmers or Shabazz Napier), one of them will have been traded.
So of the two options, which should Miami keep on their roster as team's backup point guard?
Earnest Christian: It's amazing where this franchise is one year later in regards to the point guard position. Last season it was what I called "The Bermuda Triangle Of Death" when describing the three headed monster of Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole/Shabazz Napier. With Goran Dragic in the fold now it opens up serious questions on the direction Miami should go in terms of a consistent rotation. It's a great problem to have.
Personally if it's solely about winning and having the best product on the court I will always tend to lean on the tried and true veteran experience of Mario Chalmers. I know as I type these words, many in Heat Nation all distribute a collective sigh but here's a reality folks. When Chalmers was in a defined role as a backup swing guard at the 1 and 2 is when Rio played his best in that alpha 6th man role.
David Ramil: I'll concede that Chalmers did have his moments as the team's 6th Man and occasional starter. But I think it's easy to accept Rio and all of his faults when he's a complementary piece to a team like the "Big 3" era version of the Heat. With the addition of Justise Winslow and Gerald Green (not to mention Zoran Dragic and, possibly, Tyler Johnson), the backup shooting guard seems pretty locked up; that means that Chalmers would be used almost exclusively at the PG spot. While he's had his moments, those are in the past and it's time for team to look forward and develop younger players at the position, namely Napier or rookie Josh Richardson, both of which might have higher ceiling than what "Super Mario" has demonstrated in his seven-year career.
EC: We're talking literally a one year sample size. Rio will be a free agent next summer and if I were a betting man (which I am sometimes) he won't be back beyond 2016. Now, if you're talking about making him a trade piece during the year then yes I might be all ears because at the end of the day I'm all about assets.
The thing is for all the upside Napier and Richardson may have, Heat fans are going into 2015-16 as a golden opportunity for Miami to dethrone the Cleveland Cavaliers. Chalmers has to be a part of that.
DR: Trading Chalmers doesn't seem to be a viable option, as reports indicate that he's being shopped around for next to nothing and there still aren't any takers. It's likely that we can get a future 2nd-round pick for him but that's not the kind of asset I think you're talking about. We're not getting a recognizable name in return (squash those dreams of a Jamal Crawford coming off the bench). Therefore, the point is to move him as soon as possible for the benefit of both him and the team. He deserves the chance to show he's a good (but never great) player and if Napier or Richardson are the answer, they need to get the kind of experience necessary to put the team in the best position possible.
For all that Mario can provide, getting him to be consistent is a pipe dream at this point. I'd rather see Napier continue to grow as the playmaker that made him the apple of LeBron James' eye while seeing if Richardson is a legit defender, ball-handler and shooter. At 6'5 (although he's listed as taller), he's the kind of tall point guard that's the future of the league where versatility is king.
EC: Can we stop with the whole narrative about Shabazz being" LeBron's boy" cause the fact of the matter is LBJ is no longer here to break bread in this matter. I agree that Napier and Richardson represent the future of the Miami Heat and by the way I am probably just as excited about Josh (Richardson) as I am about Justise Winslow especially given what we saw defensively from him at Summer League. That said, my whole argument to invest all in on one Mario Chalmers is literally on a single season sample size.
Let's not forget the guy did actually average double digits in scoring last season, albeit a lost season and was great in stretches when Dwayne (Wade) missed a number of games. Fact of the matter is there is still value left in a guy like Rio so what's it going to hurt to go all in for a final time.
I mean it is about the Miami Heat's best step forward right?!
DR: Sure, best step forward. But it's a marathon, not a sprint, and the Heat have an opportunity to build players for both this season and beyond. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of last season was seeing how the Heat - in what seemed like the first time in years - were able to develop players. Napier, Johnson and especially Hassan Whiteside all got an opportunity to shine that they might not have gotten if it wasn't for the injuries that ravaged the roster. Now the Heat can duplicate that effort (hopefully without the injuries). Moreover, I'm just not sure that Chalmers represents such a significant upgrade over guys who'll definitely be here in 2016 (barring an unforeseen trade).
Ironically enough, we haven't even mentioned the one reason most likely to seal Chalmers' fate in Miami; his $4.3 million salary. Napier is set to make "just" $1.3 million, a significant savings especially when factoring in the luxury and repeater tax that the Heat will pay for keeping Mario on the roster. Look, I enjoy spending Micky Arison's money as much as the next guy but the truth is that if you're going to pay tens of millions more than you have to, the reason better be pretty damn good.
Even with Mario's years of service, his 36 percent rate from 3-point range and the great memories of being yelled at by every player, coach and usher at the AmericanAirlines Arena, he's simply not worth it. Give the youth a chance and send Mario to a contender where he can infuriate a whole new fanbase with his irrational overconfidence.