In 2011, the Miami Heat traded for Norris Cole on draft night when he was taken with the 28th pick by the Chicago Bulls. He bursted on the season quickly as a rookie when he scored double figures in the 4th quarter in his first home game against the Boston Celtics, including the go-ahead jumper in the final minute.
Cole won NBA Championships in his first two seasons in the NBA, and then in his third season with the Heat he began the season as the starting point guard.
But in 2015, the Heat dealt him on the trade deadline in a package that acquired Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns.
Since then, Cole played for the Pelicans, Raptors, and most recently the Oklahoma City Thunder. But he’s still a free agent. He just had a workout with the Charlotte Hornets, so we know teams are interested in him.
At this point, Cole is probably a minimum salary player. So it begs the questions...
1: Would the Miami Heat be interested in bringing back Norris Cole?
2: Would Cole be willing to come in on a non-guaranteed deal?
Those are both important questions.
First, does the reunion make sense? Let me make the argument for his return. The Heat have one true point guard on the roster: Goran Dragic. After him, you have a combination of Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson with their hands on the ball. Neither of them are true point guards. Both are combo guards. The Heat are moving towards position-less basketball, yes. However, one injury can really put the Heat in a bind when it comes to ball handling.
Dion Waiters almost negates this whole argument because he has a very high usage rate when in the game. He likes having the ball in his hands. But, I would argue that there is still a need on the 15-man roster for another point guard.
When you have the big-bigs: Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, and AJ Hammons; next to them the other bigs: James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, Okaro White and Bam Adebayo; and then your wing players: Justise Winslow, Rodney McGruder, Wayne Ellington, Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters; and round out the roster in the backcourt with Dragic and Tyler Johnson. It seems like you have two options: find another guy who can play PF or get a PG.
I feel much more comfortable letting Adebayo develop in playing time as opposed to not having a third PG on the roster.
But, there is an argument against him as well. Does he fit? Cole is a hesitant and safe player. He doesn’t push it, he finds his role and plays it. He isn’t a great shooter. But he is a good defender.
But then again, there’s always this....
All of this has to be wrapped around the second question: what does he want financially?
With the Heat having 14 players under pretty much guaranteed contracts (McGruder’s is not, but he seems likely to be kept), and two players on non-guaranteed deals, it seems like he would have to accept a non-guaranteed deal at least through training camp.
The Heat like for the 15th spot to be a battle at training camp and see if one these young guys (right now Derrick Walton Jr and Matt Williams) can make the roster. That becomes a undesirable training camp if the 15 spots are already spoken for.
Cole will probably have to take something that he would have to earn.
***Understand that all of this is just an idea. There has been no reports or rumors that suggest the Heat are considering Norris Cole.
What do you think?
I think it makes some sense. There are other options out there, but I think a lot of people would like to see Norris Cole back in a Heat jersey.