With the departure of Heat superstar LeBron James to his former team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, many fans of the Heat organization were shocked as well as disappointed. Although Heat president Pat Riley had begun to put some pieces together in free agency with hopes to lure James back to Miami, many fans including myself were worried about the future of the Heat within a matter of minutes. A team that was once a contender for the NBA championship became a team with many question marks following LeBron’s return to Cleveland.
Nevertheless, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra were able to save the franchise, at least for the next two seasons. With Dwyane Wade taking a severe pay cut and Chris Bosh receiving a $118 million max contract, this paved the way for the Heat to remain a playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Some may argue that Wade and Bosh cannot lead the team due to Wade’s knees being an issue and Bosh’s inconsistency at times. However, without them returning to Miami along with the other free agents picked up, let’s face it, this franchise would not be as strong of a contender in the East.
NBA Free Agency Grade: A
All in all, Riley and Spoelstra have resigned and gained quality free agents, resigning Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen while bringing in Luol Deng, Danny Granger, James Ennis and Josh McRoberts.
Deng, the former Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers forward is perhaps the biggest free agent pickup for the Heat besides resigning Bosh and Wade. Deng brings consistent offensive production and quality defense to the Miami Heat. The small forward has averaged 16 points and 6 rebounds in his 10-year career. Not to mention, he has been on the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for his efforts on defense. Thus, he won’t replace LeBron James and his stellar athletic ability per say, but he will bring something the Heat have lacked in the past few years, an additional scorer who can provide constant production on offense.
Although he was injured during some portion of his time with the Indiana Pacers and later moving to the Los Angeles Clippers, Danny Granger is still a prolific player who can bring offensive production to the Heat as well. According to Pat Riley, Granger will be a multi-position player, which could be beneficial for the the team in terms of going against opponents who are bigger and stronger in the front court. Although he only averaged eight points per game, splitting his season with Indiana and Los Angeles, his career average is 17 points per game. Like Deng, Granger’s production can only help the Heat in terms of providing more scoring to assist Wade and Bosh who are now considered the “Big Two”.
James Ennis’ game has grown since being drafted in the 2013 draft as the 50th pick by the Atlanta Hawks. Ennis brings a winning mentality to Heat, leading the Perth Wildcats of the Australian Basketball League to a championship. He has proven his ability to score, averaging 21 points and seven rebounds with the Wildcats. However, many of us want to know how this will translate to the NBA. This summer, Ennis has averaged nearly 16 points in six Summer League games with the Heat. Although it is still the summer league, he has elevated his game and I believe he can benefit the team on offense as well.
Josh McRoberts brings quality rebounding and some offensive production to the Heat. Coming from the Charlotte Bobcats, McRoberts averaged nearly 12 points and seven rebounds in the 2014 NBA Playoffs. His rebounding ability will really help the Heat in the interior as sometimes Miami struggled in the rebounding category against teams with a strong presence in the paint. However, he also made a career-high 105 three pointers last year. Thus, his three point shooting ability means opposing defenders will have to respect his long range shooting ability.
All in all, the new additions plus the resigning of Wade, Bosh and Chalmers puts the Miami Heat in a good position to compete in the Eastern Conference. With Shabazz Napier adjusting to the NBA, a productive Norris Cole, Chris Andersen crashing the boards and a Mario Chalmers who will be looking to bounce back from his devastating 2014 NBA Finals performance, despite what many might say, this team is still competitive.
The 2014 NBA free agency period is not over, which means the Miami Heat still have the opportunity to gain more quality players to begin its pursuit of winning a NBA Championship post LeBron James.