Heat not in rebuild mode in the wake of The King’s departure?

By Luke Wiersma,
Initial thoughts were that Miami would be out of championship contention for a few years after LeBron James’s decision to depart homeward. But is that really the case?

“Bad move by Bosh.” were the first words that entered my mind upon hearing the news of 10-time All-Star forward Bosh’s $118 million, five-year re-signing with the Heat. I must say those words don’t hold as much truth now. I thought Bosh was completely off his rocker to stay on an aging Heat team that was past its prime, even with a LeBron James in his prime. The team would surely be in ruins now that he is gone. Right?

Let's analyze the situation. In addition to Bosh, Fox Sports reported that the Heat added former Chicago Bulls slasher Luol Deng on Sunday, who will essentially attempt to fill the enormous void by James' departure. While no one in their right mind expects Deng to actually pick up all of James' slack, this is a respectable signing nonetheless. The two-time All-Star has career averages of 16 point, 6.3 rebounds, per stats from ESPN. That should go a long way to stop the bleeding.

Star guard Dwyane Wade, the pre-James face of the franchise, will also stay with the Heat, and although most feel that the 32-year-old lane magician is on his last legs, the intelligence, experience, and mentoring that he provides is invaluable nonetheless. His 55-percent shooting from the floor was a career high, but despite this efficiency, the Heat held him out of 28 regular season games this past year, but made up for it in the playoffs, as all of that rest had him looking like the Wade of old, until the last two games against the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals, as it was clear that after playing in 18 straight post-season contests, he simply didn’t have anything left in the tank.

Miami also inked Danny Granger, who’s game is very similar to Wade’s in the fact that they are just entering his thirties, yet his knees make him look almost as old as Michael Jordan. Granger was a star with the Indiana Pacers for many years, but has struggled to stay on the court the last two. But if the Heat can somehow tap into the 20 plus points a game that he boasted as a Pacer, then the signing will be well worth it.

The Heat also nabbed Charlotte’s Josh McRoberts, who has averaged nearly 10 points and about half as many boards in a starting role for the Hornets the past two years.

Much like Mario Chalmers a few years back, National Championship hero Shabazz Napier arrived via June’s draft, and his all-around play-making ability should be of use to the Heat’s backcourt.

Speaking of Chalmers, the Heat have re-signed the sharpshooter as well. His regular-season play has been solid, but he seems to struggle more and more in the playoffs every year, culminating with the team’s latest run. This has strengthened the voices of Chalmers doubters more than ever. Chris Anderson, who brings instant energy and intensity off of the bench, has been resigned as well.

So here’s what we are looking at so far: Wade will obviously start at one guard (shooting is a virtual certainty), and Deng will slide into small forward, while Bosh will reprise his stretch power forward role. Point guard and center will once again be the real mysteries, as has been the case the entire “Big Three” era.

Napier has the potential to eventually be the answer at point, but it is likely that the Heat will bring him along slowly. Chalmers could always remain the stop-gap at the position, but the team has seen how things go while exploring that avenue, so it’s almost guaranteed that would be a temporarily fix. Granger’s knees simply won’t let the team count on him for a major role, but Wade will once again need plenty of rest, so Granger will do his best to spell him as his knees allow. McRoberts and Anderson, will most likely split time at the “center” position, although neither really fits the role, but the Heat need another big man out there opposite Bosh, especially if the latter continues on as the wing main-stay that he became last season. The biggest question is Ray Allen’s future with the team, as James could lure him to Cleveland. But if not, he’ll certainly provide stability off the bench, and will most likely be the one spelling Wade when his knees aren’t feeling up to the hard-wood task.

The team is not in as bad of shape as I would have first thought upon James’ romp back over to Cleveland, but does it match up with the James Harden/Dwight Howard Houston Rockets tandem that he passed up when he resigned with the Heat?

My answer: There is no real answer right now. The Heat’s recent moves have made the situation ever that more murky. It’s simply too close to call. So we’ll have to see how it plays out this season. Two things are for sure, however: The Deng signing was big, and Bosh is making 1.3 million more per year for an extra year with the Heat than he would have with the Rockets. So maybe giving the current team a shot in this case isn’t such a bad move. Do I stand corrected? Check back this time next year.



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