Originally Published: February 16, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images Sport The Heat's solution at the point guard position is right under their nose.

Miami's Best Option At Point Is A Familiar Face

By Michael Wallace
ESPN.com

MIAMI -- Between now and the Feb. 24 NBA trading deadline, the Miami Heat will have quite a dilemma on their hands.

Do they make a move at point guard and address a position that's not only the Heat's weakest area, but also one that's operating to the detriment of the team lately? Or should the Heat stand pat and avoid disrupting the overall chemistry right now by making even a modest shakeup?

If only the situation -- and solution -- for Miami were that simple. While it's been easy and convenient to dismiss Mario Chalmers and, to a lesser extent, Carlos Arroyo as the problems at the position, that logic only scratches the surface. Almost a month ago, when coach Erik Spoelstra first made the switch from Arroyo back to Chalmers as the starter, I wrote that both are as equally interchangeable as they are dispensable.

And that's why Chalmers' current struggles come as no surprise. Over his last three games, Chalmers had four turnovers against Detroit, was limited to just 13 minutes of playing time because of overall uninspired play against Boston and was 1-of-5 from the field, including 0-of-3 from 3-point range, on Tuesday at Indiana. At this juncture, Spoelstra will have to consider another change at the point.

It's time for the Heat to seriously consider making a deadline move at the position. But not the sort of move you might be thinking. After wrapping up their current four-game road trip with tonight's visit to the Toronto Raptors, Miami heads into the All-Star break. That gives the Heat ample time to regroup and convince Dwyane Wade that he's the man for the job on both ends of the court.

Again.

The last time Wade played the point exclusively, he opened his rookie season guarding Allen Iverson and guided the Heat past Baron Davis into the second round of the playoffs while setting up Lamar Odom and Eddie Jones. Imagine what he could do if he were to recommit to the role, only this time while working with LeBron James and Chris Bosh?

Wake up from the pipe dreams in which the Heat land Chauncey Billups, Kirk Hinrich or anyone else with more than $5 million left on his contract. Miami simply doesn't have the assets to address the point guard position by going the trade route right now. Pat Riley certainly isn't parting with Wade, James or Bosh anytime soon. Beyond those, the only contracts of value the Heat hold are the ones belonging to Mike Miller ($25 million/five years), Udonis Haslem ($21 million/five years) and Joel Anthony ($18 million/five years). Miller and Haslem likely aren't going anywhere, and the Heat may feel they have invested too much development time in Anthony to deal him, unless they get desperate.

Beyond those six, Miami has a bunch of players on minimum-salary deals that expire after this season or next, none of which are likely to fetch much of significance in return.

There are potential opportunities out there. With Roddy Beaubois on his way back from an injury absence, there might not be enough room in Dallas for Beaubois, Jason Kidd and Jose Barea. But why would the Mavericks want to help the Heat of all teams?

With Houston appearing to be committed to Kyle Lowry and his hefty contract, Aaron Brooks is certainly expendable and available on the market. The irony here is that Miami had a chance to draft Brooks four years ago but passed on him, Wilson Chandler, Rudy Fernandez and Arron Afflalo to instead acquire Daequan Cook.

Two executives from teams that have dealt with the Heat in previous trade talks said Miami is likely to keep its roster intact this season and address point guard concerns during the offseason. There's also a belief that if the Heat do make a move, it would most likely be a minor one in which the team would acquire a late-first- or early-second-round draft pick to replace some assets lost in the deals for Bosh and James.

The bottom line is that the demands Wade and James have on handling the ball would make it difficult for any pure point guard to thrive in Miami. No one short of Chris Paul or Deron Williams could go to Miami and avoid having the ball snatched from his hands and his natural instincts suppressed in key moments alongside Wade or James. The way the Heat have finished recent games is the style Spoelstra, Riley, Wade and James prefer to play. And that involves surrounding Wade, James and Bosh with a defensive-minded center in Anthony or Erick Dampier and a shooter such as Miller or Eddie House.

[+] Enlarge
Jeffrey Phelps/NBAE/Getty ImagesDwyane Wade could lift the Heat up by playing more point.

For now, that means more sacrifices must be made by the Heat's star trio. It means James must play off the ball more and be willing to take his offense into the post. It means Bosh must accept some stints at center, despite being uncomfortable with matchups against bigger players at times.

And it especially means Wade must return to those Heat roots from his rookie season and embrace point guard responsibilities more frequently on both ends of the court. The fact is Wade would have better command of the offense and already has a more trusting relationship with Spoelstra.

When Wade moved from point guard to shooting guard after his rookie season, it was because the Heat lacked a dynamic scorer on the wing. With James and Bosh now in tow, Wade doesn't face the same do-it-all demands he did over the past five seasons. He can focus on facilitating and running the team and allow James and Bosh to focus on finishing at the rim. And Wade could also have the luxury of relief at times when James is feeling it.

More important, Wade should be the one taking on those defensive assignments against Darren Collison, Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo. For the Heat to reach their potential this season, they have few choices beyond asking more from their most dynamic players.

And they're asking a lot from point right now. In the past, Riley has said he's held off on making deals for a point guard because Wade would end up running the offense in the fourth quarter anyway. And that was before James arrived. So you can only imagine Riley's feelings now.

If the Heat are searching for a solution to their point guard problems, the reality is that they shouldn't have to look any further than their own roster.

The only move Miami needs to make at the deadline is moving Chalmers to the bench and convincing Wade to move back to where it all started for him.

The Heat would be better for it. At least for now.

Be Like Mike

Anthony

... And follow in Carmelo Anthony's footsteps by fasting in search of peace and a deeper perspective amid all of this trade speculation. To cleanse his mind and spirit through all of the rumors in advance of the Feb. 24 trade deadline, the Nuggets forward said he recently gave up meat, bread and sugary sweets for 21 days. He's averaged 33.4 points since he came off the fast.

So let's take a similar stand at The Forecast. Starting today, I'm done with some of my South Florida favorites, including Caribbean jerk chicken, Churassco steak and Cuban coffee, in addition to Skittles and pork rinds, until Melo is dealt. Either this MeloDrama ends soon or I drop a few pounds in the process. Either way, it's a win-win.

Hot Air

Pippen

"Who is he? So that was just something that he totally took out of proportion, to some degree -- with respect to those two players, or I would say two and a half players, since I don't think Chris Bosh is half the player of LeBron James. But there's no way those guys are gonna break any type of record. I don't think they can break the franchise record in Miami, or the state of Florida, I should say."

-- Six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, during a recent interview with Slam Online. Pippen was addressing NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy's preseason prediction that the Heat could match the Bulls' record of 72 victories this season.

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?