Miami Heat will be facing difficult choices in offseason


If Miami can sign Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire — and there’s at least
a decent chance — plus re-sign Dwyane Wade, that would leave only a
few million dollars for point guard and small forward, which must be
addressed. Deciding which of those two is more pressing will be among
many decisions for Pat Riley, with the late-season play of Mario
Chalmers, Carlos Arroyo and Dorell Wright factoring in.

Because Wade handles the ball so much, the Heat believes it would be fine with a Derek Fisher-type, only younger. But the free agent class is weak; one scout ranks the top three as Steve Blake, Raymond Felton and restricted free agent Kyle Lowry. Arroyo, Fisher, Nate Robinson, Luke Ridnour, Anthony Carter, Chris Duhon, Jannero Pargo and Earl Watson also will be unrestricted.

“If you get Bosh or Stoudemire, I would use the remaining space on a point guard, preferably Blake, because that’s your real weakness,” one scout said. “Miami’s point guard play is in the bottom five of the league, guys who are below-average starters. Arroyo has been the best of their point guards, and that’s damning praise. What does Chalmers do really well? Decent shooter but not special. Not a great playmaker, not a great defender.”

• Small forward is another conundrum. If the Heat signs Bosh or Stoudemire to play center, it would have only $5 million or so to use on point guard and small forward. It might take that much to re-sign Wright, but one executive advised against that, saying Wright is not consistent enough to be a long-term starter.

Washington is unlikely to exercise its $11 million option on Josh Howard, who will have to settle for much less and might not be able to play until December after knee surgery. Miami likes his skill set. Travis Outlaw, Tracy McGrady, Al Harrington, Rasual Butler, Tim Thomas and Miami’s Quentin Richardson will be unrestricted.

• One general manager said if the Heat doesn’t get any of its top targets — Bosh, Stoudemire or long shot LeBron James — the best fallback would be signing Atlanta guard Joe Johnson and playing him at small forward. That idea intrigues the Heat as a fallback. “Johnson and Wade like to have the ball in their hands, but it’s still viable,” the executive said. “But your lineup would be small and you would need to sign a good defender to play center.”

• Another scout said Miami’s best fallback approach (if it misses out on Bosh or Stoudemire) would be signing Carlos Boozer and trading Michael Beasley, or trying to sign Memphis restricted free agent Rudy Gay. But Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley told season-ticket holders last week he will match any offer for Gay. The Heat would pursue Boozer if it can’t get other targets, but worries he and Beasley would overlap.

• The Heat believes Bosh or Stoudemire can play center alongside Beasley. The concern, one GM said, is “Stoudemire doesn’t consistently defend and Bosh doesn’t like the physicality of defending centers.” The Heat believes both would be good defenders here.

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