Monday, November 22, 2010

Miami's Plan After Haslem

November 22, 2010

In an awkward and unexpected fashion, Udonis Haslem fell to injury during Sunday's loss at Memphis, tearing ligaments in his foot in the process. Timetables predicting his return have ranged from six weeks to multiple months (some sources point 'til after the All-Star Break).

With that said, the Heat will have to fend without their enforcer in the middle for a significant amount of time. So, what's their plan to sure up an already suspect front court? We weigh in.

Miami's Options

There are only three options any organization can take to improve their rotation: sign a free agent, make a trade or use a different rotation.

Given that there is little talent available at the four and five spots in the free agent market (there probably is a good reason why so many teams have passed on Erick Dampier), the first option becomes null and void. It's highly doubtful that free agents like Oleksiy Pecherov will fix the Heat's problems in the paint.

Moving on to the trade option, we find ourselves in a realm where Pat Riley is mastered in. However, given the early nature of the NBA season and the lack of availability for centers and forwards across the league, the current circumstances may be too challenging for even Riley to make a good move. Besides, who on the roster would Miami have to give up in order to acquire a bulky, physical presence down low?

Would Miami be willing to part ways with James Jones despite his drastically improved perimeter play? Would the under-performing Joel Anthony be placed on the trading block, and if so, who would want him? Does Mario Chalmers have any value in the market?

These are all questions that must be answered before any team considers a trade with Miami. And most importantly, if the answer is "yes" to any of these questions, who would be traded in exchange for them? It's difficult to imagine that someone of significantly greater skill than the big men currently on Miami's roster would become available.

Then again, Pat Riley did make something out of nothing just last season by trading Mark Blount for Quentin Richardson.

Beyond free agency and the trade market, Miami has a couple of in-house options they can test out. Arguably the widest bodies under contract in Miami can be found at the far end of the Heat bench game-in and game-out. One wears his clean Heat uniform, the other wears his fresh business suits. I'm talking about Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman.

On one end you have a savvy veteran that is physical and unafraid to get rough with opposing big men in Magloire. On the other end you have a young 6-foot, 11-inch rookie that built his college reputation under the rim. In sum, you have a possible solution to your problem (in theory at least).

Conclusion

Miami should give Magloire and Pittman an enhanced role on the team and give each an opportunity to prove their worth to the team. If that fails, then looking at outside options via trade will be the next best decision.

The absence of Haslem will be detrimental to this team and the coaching staff understands that. Thus, we can expect some sort of move to be made in the coming days and weeks.

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