Posted August 13, 2013

Offseason Grades: Miami Heat

2013 Offseason Grades, Ben Golliver, Miami Heat
Mike Miller

The Heat waived Mike Miller (pictured) but brought back the rest of the roster. (Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.

Additions: Greg Oden

Losses: Mike Miller (amnesty clause)

Other Moves: Re-signed Chris Andersen, retained Ray Allen (opted in), retained Mario Chalmers (picked up team option), retained James Jones (opted in), retained Rashard Lewis (opted in), drafted James Ennis (No. 50; expected to play overseas this season)

What Went Right: The frantic, furious pace with which Miami came back to close out its 2013 championship against San Antonio gave way to a summer that was practically serene. The two-time defending champions entered the offseason with the knowledge that a vast majority of their rotation would be back for another go. The chaos that could come next summer, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all become free agents, is still well off in the distance.

This year’s biggest question marks — small by comparison to those coming into July 2014 — were erased in short order, without much fanfare or drama. Allen, Game 6 hero, decided to return for the second year of his deal (worth $3.2 million) rather than test the free-agent market again. Andersen, the zany, crucial X-factor who helped the Heat to a 54-8 record during the regular season and postseason after signing in January, agreed to come back on the cheap (two years, $2.8 million).

ROUNDTABLE: How many East teams can challenge Heat?

Once those two locked back in, there wasn’t much left to halt the three-peat talk from raging on. Toss in Lewis, a 2012 summer addition like Allen who also chose to opt in for a second season (worth $1.4 million), and the Heat will return their top-eight players by minutes played and 12 of the 13 players who logged at least 55 minutes for them during the regular season. This returning group is responsible for playing more than 94 percent of the team’s regular-season minutes. In other words, the 2013-14 Heat should be a well-oiled machine and a familiar beast for opponents.

With continuity reigning supreme, few roster-spot holes to plug and cap flexibility at a minimum, the Heat were free to spend their summer downtime picking up their favorite hobby: big-man reclamation projects. This year’s longshot is Oden, the No. 1 pick in 2007, who hasn’t played an NBA game in 1,347 days because of knee injuries. Like Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman before him, Oden has struggled with his weight, although reports indicate that he will enter training camp in good shape and that his struggles with alcohol abuse are also behind him.

Miami doesn’t need anything from the 25-year-old Oden, whose return date is unknown after accepting a minimum deal, but the Heat would love for him to mix it up with the likes of Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Joakim Noah and Tyson Chandler during the playoffs. Given his extensive injury issues (the former Ohio State star has had five knee surgeries, including three microfracture procedures), the Oden signing qualifies as more of a “Why not?” move rather than a slam dunk, but it adds another undeniable level of intrigue to a team that was already the league’s most fascinating.

What Went Wrong: That whole “competitive balance” concept that the NBA spent months harping on during the 2011 lockout finally reared its ugly head for the Heat. We already noted that 12 of the 13 players who played at least 55 minutes last season will be back. The lone exception is Miller, who was amnestied in an effort to cut down on luxury taxes.

Miller was set to make $6.2 million in 2013-14 and $6.6 million in 2014-15, but the real costs started kicking in thanks to the NBA’s new graduated tax system, which installed much harsher penalties for teams like the Heat whose payroll significantly exceeded the $70.3 million luxury-tax line. While Miami will still pay Miller the money owed to him, The Associated Press estimated that the Heat could save as much as $30 million over the next two seasons by parting with the 33-year-old swingman.

Although injuries limited Miller to 139 of a possible 230 regular season games (60.4 percent) during his three years with the Heat, his greatest asset was his timeliness. The sharpshooter scored 23 points (including seven three-pointers) in Miami’s series-clinching victory against Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals, and he shot 11-for-18 (61.1 percent) from beyond the arc against San Antonio in last season’s Finals. The Heat will miss his floor-spacing ability and gutsy, determined play, but it would be a stretch to call this a crippling loss, especially when James, Allen, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers all shot better than 40 percent from deep last season.

Grade: C. After an A++++ summer in 2010 (the Big Three) and an A+ summer in 2012 (inexpensively adding Allen and Lewis to a title team), the Heat, hemmed in by the new collective bargaining agreement, had little choice but to take a slight step back this time around. Their offseason will look much rosier in hindsight if Oden manages to pan out, but “ifs” don’t get much bigger than that in the NBA.

15 comments
dash2k8
dash2k8

C? For holding together a championship team? Wow, the standards are high this year!

nothereforfun
nothereforfun

Either way, Nets and Pacers get a better grade than the Heat.

CâlinRâdulescu
CâlinRâdulescu

I'd make it a B+, and I'm not a Miami fan by any means. But the grade is relative to the moves the other Eastern Conference contenders made. Compare Miaimi's acquisition with Brooklyn's: Garnett, Pierce, Terry, Kirilenko with Oden. Make you... laugh?

Miller made his contributions when they mattered most. So losing him might be a void, visible only from time to time, in certain situations.

Oden looked great althroughout high-school, and before every injury he sustained. 

This is all relative: saying "great" about a player who hasn't been able to play for the last 4 years, should be taken with a grain of salt.

fry305
fry305

How does bringing back every player from a championship team except for 1 merit a "C" grade?

mclaytonsfla
mclaytonsfla

They still have their 3 million dollar veteran's exemption to spend 

Olden signed for the minimum . stay tuned 

Aicyla22
Aicyla22

They graded Oden signing with the heat as an A and yet their off season grade is a C, hmmm... it seems we have a bunch of rocket scientists writing articles for SI...

super_mecha
super_mecha

Stupid writers. The new tax penalties haven't done anything to the heat. You think Mike Miller makes a difference?


Stupid biased writing at its best

MikePiccolo
MikePiccolo

I feel that the acquisition of Greg Oden and loss of Mike Miller should at least warrant a B grade. From what I've seen and heard, Greg Oden looked amazing and at least 6 teams (that we know of) were chomping at the bit to try and sign him after the latest doctor reports and on court workouts and try outs. The loss of the oft injured swing man Mike Miller will be offset by an increase in playing time by James Jones, it's a pretty even swap.

ukjb
ukjb

@dash2k8 
Totally agree. simply keeping a two time championship team together should be deserving at least a B even without the addition of Greg Oden. Throwing in Greg Oden can't make them any worse... you'd have to give them a B+ with a potential for an A depending on how he pans out this season - even though we all know his real worth will show in the playoffs.

fry305
fry305

This guy even admitted the 1 player they lost was expendable.

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@super_mecha 

He had a 5-5 3 point shooting game in the finals that might have won them the championship last year!

SukeMadiq
SukeMadiq

@MikePiccolo 

Amazing?  He is not even playing yet, he just ran around a little bit!   He has not played in 4 years!

ukjb
ukjb

@SukeMadiq @super_mecha that is true, but with an inside presence like greg oden (if healthy) means that miami won't be in nearly as many game 7's as they were forced into this season due to lack of physicality and size in the paint. they won't need a huge performance from behind the arc like that.

MikePiccolo
MikePiccolo

Today's news on Greg Oden:

Greg Oden - C - Heat

Greg Oden's two-year deal with the Heat is worth just $2.173 million.

It's actually a one-year deal with a player option in year two. So if Oden surprises everyone by sustaining health and contributing to the defending champs, he'll have a chance to get paid much more in 2014-15. Although Oden was able to play three consecutive games of full-court, 4-on-4 last week."

I'd say it sounds like he's gonna be a pretty good addition and he's on the right road to a major comeback. Even if he didn't play more than 10 min. A game it's still a HUGE win for the Heat especially if he's plays 15 min+ come playoff time.