MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Sunday may be considered a day of rest but while most people we’re kicking back and relaxing, maybe throwing some burgers and dogs on the grill, Pat Riley was hard at work making the post-LeBron Miami Heat a more formidable opponent.
Needing to build a well-rounded lineup in the wake of LeBron James heading back to Cleveland, Miami added a few pieces to the puzzle that’s suddenly becoming clearer and providing more hope than Heat fans would’ve expected just a few days ago.
A rebuilding process that began when Chris Bosh announced that he would be returning to the Heat took major steps forward on Sunday when free-agent forward Luol Deng agreed to terms with Miami.
Deng signed a two-year contract worth $20 million, leaving himself options for the 2016 offseason.
This is a move that many NBA players are making as they expect the league salary cap to be raised following the 2015-16 season.
Along with Deng and James, who also signed a two-year contract though he has verbally committed to staying with Cleveland for the long haul, other 2016 possible free agents include Kevin Durant, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Joe Johnson, Kobe Bryant and many more.
Miami’s Sunday wasn’t finished after locking up Deng. There were still a couple chips left to fall before the day was done.
The first chip fell on twitter, where point guard Mario Chalmers announced that he was re-signing with the Heat. Chalmers tweet read “Proud to say I’m back wit the heat. Heat nation we still here.”
Miami brought back Chalmers on another two-year contract, further showing that Riley is planning for the summer of 2016 the same way he planned for the summer of 2010, making sure that the Heat have plenty of cap space when the plethora of star free-agents hit the open water.
“It’s great to have Mario back,” Riley said in a statement released by the Heat on Monday. “We’re happy that he wants to continue his career in Miami, he’s one of our core players, and I believe he will have a great season.”
As the sun was setting on this busy Sunday, the Heat was also able to lock up Chris “Birdman” Andersen on a multi-year deal. Andersen had been linked to several other teams, including the two in his home state of Texas, the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks.
Ultimately Andersen chose to return to Miami and remain loyal to the team that helped him resurrect his career. The terms of his contract haven’t been disclosed as it appears Andersen and the Heat are waiting to see how the rest of free-agency shakes out to give Miami as much flexibility around the salary cap as possible.
With the three moves made on Sunday, the Heat’s roster is coming together quite nicely. Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger have all agreed to sign with Miami and it’s just a matter of time before Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade work out their deals as well.
Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton are currently under contract and the Heat own the rights to first-round draft pick Shabazz Napier. Hamilton and Napier have been playing for Miami in the NBA’s Summer League along with prospect James Ennis, who has been impressing with his play over the past week. All three have a good chance of making the Heat’s 15-man roster.
Riley isn’t done shaping up the team just yet as it’s expected he will continue to add players that complement the current makeup of the team. Still needing some reliable outside shooters, don’t count out the possible returns of Ray Allen, James Jones or Rashard Lewis. Or Riley may choose to bring in some fresh blood.
Either way, now is not the time to fall asleep on the Heat. While LeBron James is gone, Miami still has Pat Riley. James may be the best player on the court but Riley is just as invaluable off the court.