The Heat at the trade deadline

February, 25, 2011
2/25/11
10:00
AM ET
Arnovitz By Kevin Arnovitz
ESPN.com
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Dozens upon dozens of names are whispered by NBA executives on phone calls in the days leading up the trade deadline, with only a fraction of those players actually making it to the league-mandated "trade call," where acquisitions become official. Although the Heat contacted several teams about Mike Miller, the sell job wasn't overly aggressive and Miami wasn't just going to give Miller away, according to sources.

The Heat still have an opportunity between now and Tuesday to add some depth to the roster. Players who negotiate a buyout on their contracts with existing teams can sign with another team before March 1 and still be eligible for the postseason.

The Heat haven't been terribly active in recent seasons but have made deadline deals in the past at the final hour. Here's a catalog:
  • 2006: The Heat acquired Derek Anderson from Houston in exchange for Gerald Fitch.
  • 2005: The Heat acquired Steve Smith from Charlotte for Malik Allen and cash.
  • 1998: The Heat acquired Brent Barry from the Clippers for Isaac Austin, Charles Smith and a conditional 1998 first-round draft pick.
  • 1996: The Heat acquired Walt Williams and Tyrone Corbin from Sacramento for Billy Owens and Kevin Gamble.
  • 1996: The Heat acquired Tony Smith from Phoenix for Terrence Rencher.
  • 1996: The Heat acquired Tim Hardaway and Chris Gatling from Golden State for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles.

Thanks to ESPN Stats & Info for the research.

Do the Heat need to add someone to bolster their roster, specifically to their point guard and frontcourt rotations? There's no definitive answer, but we can approach the question in a fairly clinical way.

Erik Spoelstra has 240 minutes to distribute in a regulation game. Figure that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will account for about half those minutes in a playoff game. After that, the rotation has been fairly fluid and dependent on matchups. Any newcomer who takes the floor, by definition, will claim the minutes of another member of the roster.

The question to ask is, "Are those minutes better allocated to Player X or Player Y?" For instance, several outlets are reporting point guard T.J. Ford and the Pacers will likely reach an agreement for a buyout in the coming days. Hypothetically speaking, let's say the Heat had interest in Ford and signed him. If we plug Ford into the Heat's rotation, it's safe to assume that his minutes would come from some perimeter combination of Mario Chalmers, Eddie House, Miller or James Jones. (This is a tough exercise with the Heat because, outside of Chalmers, they've become accustomed to using lineups without a defined point.)

Up until this season, Ford and Chalmers had very similar advanced stats (Win Shares per 48 minutes, true shooting percentage, offensive and defensive rating/points per possession). Ford's 3-point shot leaves a lot to be desired, but he has a more dependable handle than Chalmers. Like Chalmers, Ford's worst attribute is what we'll loosely term offensive decision-making.

Considering what the Heat usually want to accomplish on the floor -- namely surround their premier talent with guys who can knock down shots from distance -- Chalmers (and House and any of the other perimeter shooters) is probably the better option over Ford on any given possession. Taking meaningful minutes away from any member of the perimeter rotation and handing those minutes to Ford would likely be a downgrade.

That said, if Chalmers were to go down to injury, the Heat's only pure point guard on the roster is Carlos Arroyo. Whether it's because the team gets beat with Arroyo, or Spoelstra prefers more speed on the court, Arroyo has played only 31 minutes over the past 13 games. There's a compelling argument that any minutes assigned to Arroyo might be better used by Ford -- but right now precious few minutes are being assigned to Arroyo.

Adding a point guard of Ford's caliber would provide the Heat with an insurance policy, and that's worth something. But so long as Chalmers -- with all his imperfections -- is healthy, acquiring Ford wouldn't make the Heat better on paper. Ford would improve the roster only if Chalmers were unavailable, providing the Heat with another player who carries a "PG" by his name who isn't Arroyo.

Apart from that, Spoelstra has better options for those remaining 120 minutes.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dwyane Wade
PTS AST STL MIN
22.8 5.5 1.0 32.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Bosh 8.2
AssistsD. Wade 5.5
StealsM. Chalmers 1.8
BlocksC. Bosh 0.8