Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – For the first time since June 30, agents can begin contacting the Miami Heat and the Heat can open up their facilities for voluntary workouts.
While teams can’t officially sign any player until December 9th, many teams are already hitting the ground running looking to fill out their roster with one or two players who could help propel the team to the NBA Finals.
For the Miami Heat, there are several names out there, but not a lot of money to throw at them. The Heat are right up against the soft salary cap and outside of releasing Mike Miller, don’t have much money left to fill out the roster.
The Heat’s biggest needs are at center and point guard. Assuming Mario Chalmers can put his game together for a full season like he did in the NBA Finals, the Heat’s main position of priority will be center.
There are some big names out there to be had, but Heat president Pat Riley will have to do quite a sell on any of the top players to get them into a Heat uniform.
At the top of the list amongst free agent centers is former Denver Nuggets center Nene. He stands nearly 7 feet tall and weighs roughly 250 pounds, or the perfect body frame for a big center to really pound another team.
Nene also averages nearly 12.3 points, 7 rebounds, and nearly 2 assists per game while playing roughly 30 minutes a game. He’s the perfect fit for the Heat and would make the Heat essentially untouchable for the next three years.
But, Nene turned down a four-year, $50 million contract extension with the Nuggets. Luckily, he did that to sign on with a contender.
There will be countless suitors for Nene. The Heat can offer him a maximum mid-level exception contract of $5 million per season for four years with 4.5 percent annual raises.
Riley has never given out a full mid-level exception to anyone while with the Heat, but if he could talk Nene into joining up with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, it would be well worth the money and sacrifice for Nene.
But, the Knicks will come hard after Nene with more money and other teams will as well. Past Nene, there are still other options.
Samuel Dalembert is a possibility, if he wanted to play for less than the mid-level exception maximum. Past Dalembert, the cupboard is a little bit iffy.
The Heat could look to target former Charlotte Bobcats center Kwame Brown. He’s been a huge bust as a number one overall pick, but he scored 8 points and pulled down 7 rebounds per game last season while averaging 26 minutes per game. Plus, Brown could sign for the league minimum.
In addition, the Heat may take a flier on center Eddy Curry. His career fell off a cliff in New York from 2008-2010 and he didn’t play in the league last year due to weight problems.
Still, Curry has reportedly dropped a lot of weight and was working with the Heat before the lockout. He’s a legit seven footer who has averaged 13 points and 5 rebounds per game for his career.
If he’s finally got his head on straight, he’s worth a camp invite to see if he can put it all back together.
Finally, the Heat also have center Dexter Pittman in the bullpen. The former 300-pound-plus center didn’t crack the team’s dress list much last season, but he’s reportedly been exercising heavily and is said to be in the best shape of his career.
If Pittman is in shape and crack the lineup as a quality reserve, it makes Pat Riley’s decision-making a whole lot easier.