Sunday , Jan , 27 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

The Miami Heat Roster Can Be Fixed

The Miami Heat Roster Can Be Fixed

There are a lot of doubters out there.

Not about the Miami Heat’s chances this season – that’s been decided since the New Year – but that this team’s roster is unfixable. That not even the New York Knicks’ roster is in as bad of shape as Miami’s.

Players are too old; they’re making too much money; Shaquille O’Neal is useless; Pat Riley is out the door; Dwyane Wade will be leaving soon.

I’ve always said that after this season Miami has a two-year window to build another championship contender and keep Wade happy so he doesn’t jet to The Windy City.

And there’s still hope.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to what the Heat should do to become legitimate again for the 2008-09 season:

  1. Tell Wade and Shaq to chill.

You can’t be a title contender if your two starts aren’t healthy, and obviously, Wade and Shaq are not. Wade still hasn’t been himself since the shoulder injury, and Shaq can barely get off the ground because of his hip.

I know a lot of people think Shaq simply can’t do it anymore, but he can. No he can’t be L.A. Shaq or even first-year-in-Miami Shaq. But he can be 17 and 8 Shaq on a consistent basis if he’s healthy enough.  That’s a big “if” but if he sits out the rest of this season, that word gets smaller.

So just stay on the sidelines, Shaq. And Wade, have a convenient injury within the next coming days and stay out of Olympic competition so you can come back next year looking like NBA Finals Wade (they’re going to need it).

  1. Convince Alonzo Mourning to come back.

Is that selfish of me to ask that? Maybe it is. But this is just a fantasy, right?

Truth is Mourning would run through a brick wall right now if Riles told him to, and after seeing him on TNT during Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I kind of got the feeling he’s going to try to make a comeback.

Zo is one of the proudest NBA players ever, and I don’t think he wants the last image of him walking off the court to be a limping one.

Even at this age, he’s a force defensively, a huge relief to Shaq and a huge motivation in the locker room for this team. Plus, he’d play backup center at a very cheap price.

  1. Trade Mark Blount, Ricky Davis and Smush Parker to the Seattle Supersonics for Kurt Thomas and Delonte West.

I believe Seattle would take this deal because of how badly they need a shooting guard.  For the Heat, it would work out great because they can get rid of Blount’s big contract and the never-used Parker. In return, they get the expiring deal of Kurt Thomas and a cheap point guard in West – two positions the Heat are lacking with their bench.

That would drop the Heat’s salary for 2008-09 to $44,658,781 – under the salary cap.

As for the Sonics, they wouldn’t mind taking on Blount because they desperately want a 2-guard and they have money to spare. If at first they don’t budge, throw in this year’s second-round pick. The Heat won’t need it.

  1. Get Shaq to restructure his deal.

At first, it would’ve been impossible under NBA rules for Shaq to restructure his contract because the Heat were over the salary cap. But with the Heat under the cap, The Diesel can do it.

Will he?

I think so. Shaq should be embarrassed that they pay him so much and he barely ever plays. But it isn’t just that. Shaq desperately wants to win another championship, and he knows the Heat can’t do that unless they free themselves of some of the burden of his contract.

  1. Draft Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose.

The Heat are going to keep sinking this season (especially if Wade and Shaq take most of the rest of the season off, like I said). And although that’s not a good thing, it will get them a lottery pick.

Miami should take Rose or Beasley. Which ever is available (obviously, Beasley would be option No. 1).

  1. Pick up a big-time free agent.

With all the money the Heat have freed up, they can go out and get that big-time free agent that will be a second/third option and get them back on top.

I strongly believe Shawn Marion will opt out of his deal in Phoenix after this season, and I think he would welcome a trip to South Beach.

If not, the Heat can get Ron Artest (who WILL opt out) or Gilbert Arenas.

Just like the draft, that player needs to be a point guard or a small forward because those are the areas sorely lacking. If Miami drafts Rose, Artest or Marion would be the guys. If it’s Beasley, then Arenas or maybe even Baron Davis are the guys they should go after.

  1. Resign Chris Quinn, Kurt Thomas and Dorrell Wright to short-term, minimum deals.

If Wright doesn’t want to sign a minimum deal, good riddance.

  1. Shore up the roster.

The Heat should have some money left over to sign some veteran guys to solidify the bench and not hit the luxury tax. Key additions: perimeter players who are good spot-up shooters and defenders.

Wow, I feel like I just solved the theory of relativity. Best thing about it is the Heat wouldn’t have to give up Udonis Haslem. With these moves, the Heat can have a starting lineup of: Davis/Arenas – Wade – Beasley – Haslem – O’Neal; or Rose – Wade-   Artest/Marion – Haslem – O’Neal.

Off the bench, they’d have Cook, West, Mourning, possibly Wright and whoever else they pick up from free agency.

Pretty easy, right?