It’s a huge summer for Pat Riley and the Miami Heat, as they can carve out in excess of $40 million in cap space if desired.
Before the playoffs began, we stacked up 10 whale targets for the Heat, though today I’d swap in Chris Paul for Kevin Durant, who appears to be a lock to stay in Golden State. While all whales are not created equal, they’re generally the types of talents who anchor a team as one of the best two or three players.
However, there are 12-plus players per roster in the NBA and each team is predominantly comprised of role players. While they’re not as sexy to talk about, these men can be the difference between winning championships (Ray Allen in Miami) and spiraling out of the playoffs (the Wizards’ entire bench this year).
With an obvious coaching boost from Erik Spoelstra (and that Heat culture, of course), there was an entire lineup of Heat role players who outperformed expectations last season. Vets like Wayne Ellington and Luke Babbitt proved useful while Willie Reed enters free agency as a legitimate rotation-caliber big man after stints in the D-League.
But it was Dion Waiters and James Johnson who stole the show with both in line for massive raises this summer as unrestricted free agents. While I think one or two of the aforementioned five will return (I’d put my money on Johnson, though he could be pricy, and Ellington), all five likely won’t be back, opening some holes to fill in the rotation.
This is the wave of free agency that rolls in after the whales dry up. The first two are the only legit needle-movers in my mind and therefore the most expensive.
Notes: Robert Covington was originally on the list below but I was unaware he had a team option for just $1.6 million next season, which Philly will 100 percent exercise. If the player has a nickname on Basketball Reference it is listed below the name.
The Great Rudini
While I think the 30-year-old Gay — if he’s able to return to pre-torn-achilles form — would be a tremendous fit here as a stretch four (providing excellent value because of the injury) with the rare ability to create his own shot, I’m already starting to regret having him on this list and it has nothing to do with basketball.
The Great Rudini is a real thing:
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) October 21, 2014
Kings broadcaster Jerry Reynolds anointed Gay with the nickname.
Kings broadcaster Jerry Reynolds needs to be deported.
You can envision Eric Reid already practicing at home, right? He’s sampling calls in the bathroom mid-shave: “The defense collapses on a penetrating Dragic, who kicks it to The Great Rudini in the corner. KABOOM.”
That cannot happen. Next.
The other solid white boy free agent on the Jazz besides the alluring Gordon Hayward is restricted, which automatically makes him less attainable and more expensive. Considering Utah has the right to match any offer, a team in pursuit of Joe’s services will probably have to overpay (similar to what Brooklyn tried to do with Tyler Johnson last summer).
Ingles has an attractive game and an even sexier nickname (Jinglin’ Joe!). The 6-foot-8 Aussie is a deadly three-point shooter (40% career) with handle, versatility, and the size to defend multiple positions.
Ingles was a key component to Utah’s success this season, ranking fourth on the roster in Total Points Added. He’s Hayward-lite and would thrive in Miami.
The 6-foot-6 journeyman with the 7-foot wingspan has the makings of a solid 3-and-D reserve. Shooting 34 percent from three for his career, he’s a decent shooter who needs to improve in that area to become a valued role player in today’s NBA.
Plus, someone needs to rescue him from the Knicks. Inject the 28-year-old with some Heat culture and Holiday just might be Miami’s next reclamation project.
The appeal with Snell is simple: He’s a strong 3-point shooter (41% with Milwaukee last year) and he’s only 25 years old. He’s going to get a nice payday but his 3-and-D potential is dependent on whether the “D” will ever match the “3.”
So there’s apparently another CJ Miles out there, a WAY more popular one too, according to a Google search.
If the Heat can’t sign her, the CJ Miles who played in Indiana last year isn’t a terrible fallback option. In three of the last five seasons, Miles shot over 38 percent on 3s. Then again, the Heat could always bring back Ellington for $6 million.
But that other CJ Miles seems more, uh, interesting.
Omri would be a significant upgrade in the Babbitt role and a nice complement to Hassan Whiteside. Not only is he a 37 percent 3-point shooter for his career, but he can defend and handle as well.
AB is a defensive-minded big man who could provide excellent depth behind Whiteside. He’s also got the Chris Andersen thing going.
Whoever votes on worst haircut in the NBA, I would like to submit Aaron Baynes to the conversation. pic.twitter.com/6VbPCOsjoV
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 9, 2017