Miami Heat Whale Watch 2017: Zach Randolph

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This coming summer is lining up to be one of the most exciting offseasons for Miami Heat fans since a certain 6-foot-8 player with hairline issues decided to bring his talents to South Beach.

Miami, which finished just outside of the playoffs despite finishing the season with a 30-11 record, will have salary cap space in spade come June – something to the tune of $40 million.

A few things have to happen first, though, if the Heat want to be buyers when the free agency period opens.

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  • Dion Waiters and Willie Reed have to opt out of their current contracts. Both are very likely.
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  • The team has to release Wayne Ellington, clearing over $6 million.

Once all those things happen, Miami Heat president Pat Riley can start going whale hunting.

The 2017 list of NBA free agents has more than its fair share of “whales” – big-name players – and the Heat will be the only franchise that offers the trifecta of championship pedigree, an up-and-coming solid roster and South Beach.

Today’s whale: Zach Randolph

Previous Team: Memphis Grizzlies

Free Agency Status: Unrestricted

2016-17 Salary: $10,361,445

Career Earnings: $175,124,765

2016-17 Stats: 14.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists

How he fits in the boat: “Z-Bo” took on a reserve role with the Memphis Grizzlies this past regular season and it may have been the best thing for his career at this point.

While he’s not the 20 and 10 guy he was five years ago, Randolph still has gas left in the tank and is still one of the league’s more effective low-post scorers. He was never known as a “high flyer” and always had more of a below-the-rim game, so father time – he’ll be 36 in July – hasn’t been too cruel to him.

Bringing Z-Bo to Miami would be a solid move because he could fill the Heat’s void at power forward in their starting lineup or he could be the first man off the bench – serving as a veteran that can buoy the offense for stretches.

An added bonus in Randolph is that he already knows how to play alongside another big. Z-Bo worked with skilled center Marc Gasol for the past half-decade and formed one of the more dominant forward-center combos in the league.

Spacing was never an issue between Gasol and Randolph, and it shouldn’t be one if Miami were to pair Randolph with Haasan Whiteside. Whiteside’s strength isn’t his back-to-the-basket game, he’s best on the move in the pick and roll or catching lobs around the rim – which would still Z-Bo the space he needs to operate on the low block.

The money should work, too.

Randolph has made his money in this league. A lot of it, really.

Because he’ll be 36 during the 2017-18 season, Riley could probably offer him a 2-year, $18 million deal – sell him on the appeal of making the playoffs in the weaker Eastern Conference and tell him that his body will never feel better once he’s working with the Heat’s world-class training staff and waking up next to the beach every day.

Come on, Fiz, tell Z-Bo to come to South Beach.

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