Thursday, February 18, 2010
We are a few hours away from another exciting trade deadline. The biggest name linked to Miami is still available, but after speaking with the Phoenix Suns team owner Robert Sarver Amar'e Stoudamire said "I think I'm pretty much safe," adding that "I feel good. But either way I was going to feel alright".
If Amar'e stays put, it might be great news for the Miami Heat. Yes, it would be nice to make a move so that this season does not have to end like last season's, but the team has hardly inspired confidence that they are one piece away from seriously challenging the East's top 4 teams this year even with Dwyane Wade leading the attack (let's hope he is OK, by the way, you never like to hear a player say he heard a pop). However, it is clear after watching the moves the Heat has made - Quentin Richardson for Mark Blount and Rafer Alston for Chris Quinn, a 2nd rounder and cash (yes, I consider the Rafer Alston move a trade, because there seemed to be a clear correlation with his release, signing and subsequent trade) - that Pat Riley cares about winning, turning the bottom of the roster into two starters/rotation players - neither player is more than a stop gap solution at the position, but that is the point. The moves you have not seen Riley make are moves that commit 2010 cap space to fringe All-Stars.
Of course Richard Jefferson, Stephen Jackson, Caron Butler, Josh Howard could have made the team much more competitive this season and beyond, but Riley has kept true to the vision so far. Everything he does has LeBron, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson and Amar'e best interests in mind, possibly even Yao Ming, who would definitely benefit from playing with Wade. Yes, the argument could be made that the team is doing everything they can to retain Wade, but I believe Pat when he says they are not walking on egg shells with him. They know it is ultimately his decision anyway whether he wants to take a paycut and leave so they are not allowing themselves to go down that rabbit hole, instead they are focused on an off-season where they will stand at the front of the line.
While the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls are desperately trying to get into Miami's position, the Heat is in a place where they get to be really picky having already cleared tons of cap space. The player I most wanted to get cleared out was James Jones, but it just dawned on me that we may have time to trade him in the off-season if we determine he is not worth $5 million a year... which he might be worth as a 3 point specialist if we acquire a dominant big man like Bosh, Yao or Stoudamire.
The other bright side of standing pat is that we currently do have a lot of useful role players and none of them stand to get a hefty pay raise in free agency, so improving into the 50 win world by next year almost seems like a slam dunk.