He's making $5 million this season for the Miami Heat and he could be the third string center. What role does Chris Andersen still have with the Heat this season? That's a question that needs to be answered. Because $5 million as a third string center is the reason that the Birdman has been in trade talks.
But, is that where he belongs? At 37 years old, Chris Andersen is well past his prime, and is only good in small spurts. Right now, he's being paid for time served, not what he will bring to the table, and the Heat made good on that as he was paid significantly less during his time while LeBron ran the show.
Now, the Heat have signed Amaré Stoudemire, who is more than capable of playing some time at center, although he prefers PF. The only issue with that is the Heat don't have any time to offer at PF with a depth chart of Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and even Udonis Haslem. Stoudemire, if he's going to play, is going to play center.
Hassan Whiteside has emerged as the clear starter for the Heat in the middle for this season. As longs as he doesn't have too many mental lapses or injuries, he's going to stay there. So between Stoudemire and Andersen, where does the time go?
If we are looking at strictly center rotation, which likely won't be the case as Bosh will play some time there, we can expect Whiteside to play about 30 minutes. That seems like not a lot, but considering foul issues and the fatigue of a guy that big, that's going to be 30-33 minutes most nights. That leaves 15-18 minutes per game to be filled behind Whiteside.
Again, some of those minutes will be likely filled be Bosh when the Heat play McRoberts alongside of him. So whatever is left for a back-up seems like it's only going to be left for one back-up, not two. And indications are that it will be Amaré Stoudemire, and not Chris Andersen.
Last year, Andersen averaged 18.9 MPG in 60 games as the primary back-up. He even started 20 games last year. But things have changed. And the hard thing to accept is that I think Bird still has a lot to offer. In 15 minutes, he could be a great addition to any team with the way he attacks the glass.
So the question is: Is that right? Is Stoudemire the better option for the Heat behind Whiteside instead of Andersen? I think the answer is yes. Chris Andersen, although we love him, is now going to be on the outside looking in for playing time. He's slower and his offensive capabilities are nowhere near those of even a diminished Stoudemire. This isn't a closed case. There will certainly be times where Bird is going to be more valuable against an opponent that Stoudemire, but it won't be often.
This leaves us with a dilemma. Having Andersen on the bench as depth would be great in most scenarios. But as Micky Arison looks at the roster, is it worth $5 million plus the luxury and taxes? Probably not. That's why you should probably prepare yourself that unless the Heat make some other type of unforeseen move, Andersen is probably going to be traded before the deadline. I don't know what they will get in return, if anything, but it seems like the likely scenario with how the roster is shaping up.
So where does Bird fit into the Miami Heat rotation? Mostly as a third-string center behind Hassan Whiteside and Amaré Stoudmire. In some scenarios, I can see Andersen playing before Stoudemire, but not many. The way this changes is when/if Stoudemire decides rebounding and ball movement are not something for him, which could easily happen.
This is all subject to change, but right now, Chris Andersen won't be racking up the frequent flyer miles as Birdman.