Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The shine on the Miami Heat’s championship hasn’t even worn off, but the team is already back to work preparing for Thursday night’s NBA Draft.
The Heat’s roster is in flux right now as several players may or may not return to the Heat for the 2012/2013 season. At the top of the list is NBA Finals hero, small forward Mike Miller.
The last time Miller was on the court, he was hitting 7 of 8 three-pointers to help clinch the 2012 NBA championship for the Heat. But Miller’s body hasn’t held up well since he joined the Heat along with the Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Miller is said to be contemplating retirement. If he were to retire for medical reasons, that could clear up roughly $2.9 million in money to use on a free agent. But, it will leave a huge gap in the backup position for LeBron James.
Additionally, forward Juwan Howard is expected to retire and centers Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman are both free agents.
That’s caused many mock drafts to look towards a small forward in the NBA Draft Thursday night. Among the names that have been tossed out include: Draymond Green of Michigan State; Jeffrey Taylor of Vanderbilt, or Evan Fournier from France.
But, Heat vice-president Chet Kammerer said every year the one question Heat president Pat Riley asks, “Is there a good big?”
If that’s the case, then Miami has a few options that might be available when the team goes on the clock Thursday night.
The likely target if the Heat went big would probably be Syracuse center Fab Melo. The seven-footer is good on the boards and defensively. His game would need a lot of work on the offensive end. Essentially, he might become a 7-foot version of Joel Anthony.
Another big man the Heat could target would be Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli. The 6’11” four-year player at Vanderbilt has a huge body, weighing 255 pounds. He shot 54 percent from the field and averaged 5.9 rebounds per game.
The Heat doesn’t expect any of the quality big men to be available when they go on the clock.
“I think it’s going to be a difficult for us to get a big man at 27,” Kammerer said. “There’s always a chance, but I think to say that we like the options, I think it’s going to be difficult for us to find someone at 27 that’s going to totally excite us.”
The Heat is definitely hoping lightning strikes twice for the team. Last year, the Heat moved up a few spots in the draft and selected dynamic point guard Norris Cole.
Cole averaged 19.4 minutes per game and scored 6.8 points per game in his first year with the Heat. He also put future draft picks in a pickle because he came into the NBA Finals and helped resurrect the Heat by hitting key 3-pointers in Games 4 & 5.
The NBA Draft will take place Thursday night.