With Heat almost done, changes loom

As you watch the replay of Paul Pierce’s game-winner, take note of who
was on the floor defending.

There was Dorell Wright, who was the isolation defender on Pierce and
did not have an opportunity to use the foul that the Heat had to give,
and the other four bodies were Michael Beasley, Quentin Richardson,
Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers.

This is noteworthy for one major reason: There is a fairly strong chance that not a single one of those finishing five will be back with the Heat next fall when this soon-to-be-over series will be a distant, distasteful memory.

Yes, even Beasley — the second overall pick of the 2008 draft.

What you may have missed on the eve of this series was Heat president Pat Riley’s comment that he seeks to build a dynasty this summer, when Miami will have somewhere in the area of $24 million, as things stand now, to spend in free agency.

And as well as Dwyane Wade’s supporting cast played Friday night in a gut-wrenching 100-98 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their first-round series, it remains a supporting cast too anemic to be part of what Riley has planned for the future. Richardson, Wright and Haslem are on expiring contracts, and Chalmers’ contract has a team option.

The expiring $23 million contract belonging to Jermaine O’Neal (who was benched for the final 17 minutes) also will come off Miami’s cap, as will the contracts of Carlos Arroyo, James Jones, Yakhouba Diawara and Jamaal Magloire. (Joel Anthony has an $885,000 player option, and Daequan Cook is under contract for $2.1 million.)

So not only does Riley want to bring back Wade after he opts out of his contract prior to July 1, but Riley wants to bring in two superstuds to play alongside the superstar who sweated his way through two uniform jerseys while scoring 34 points on 14-for-26 shooting before sitting out the final 11.7 seconds with an injury to a left calf that had been cramping up on him throughout the fourth quarter.

But even if Riley is able to land one extremely heavy hitter in free agency (that list begins with LeBron James and continues with Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer), he isn’t going to have enough room to get that second stud if he still has Beasley on the roster making $4.96 million.

And sources have told ESPN.com that Miami, fed up with Beasley’s lack of devotion to defense and his steep learning curve in the maturity department, tried diligently to move Beasley before the trading deadline in February but found no takers willing to give up anything more than garbage.

So if Beasley can be moved before the draft for a player with only a partial guarantee for 2010-11, or if the Heat can arrange an uneven deal (in terms of salaries) and send him to an under-the-cap team in a trade that would be consummated after the league’s one-week moratorium on player movement ends July 8, look for Riley to go for it.


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