What’s next for the Heat?

July 09, 2010 - Miami, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES - epa02243370 Miami Heat President Pat Riley (C) takes his seat during NBA basketball team Miami Heat's 'HEAT Summer of 2010 Welcome Event' at the American Airlines arena in Miami, Florida, USA, 09 July 2010. The Miami Heat reached an agreement with LeBron James to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers, and sign with the Miami Heat.

Now that the Miami Thrice is locked up for the next six years — well, for four years at least — it’s time for Pat Riley, the greatest general manager in the history of time, to fill out his roster.

Larry Coon, who manages the excellent NBA Salary Cap FAQ, wrote a piece for ESPN about how Riley can proceed with filling out the rest of the roster.

Sources told ESPN.com that James and Bosh signed for $14.5 million and Wade $14 million, leaving the Heat with nearly $8.3 million to spend.

One persistent rumor has the Heat using some of their leftover cap room to add sharpshooting Mike Miller to the lineup, and Miller is reportedly close to agreeing with the team on a deal totaling $25 million over five years — which would start at around $4.3 million. While he is a natural small forward (the same position James plays), Miller’s skill set would complement those of LeBron, Bosh and Wade, and there would be several ways of slotting him into the lineup. In addition to using Miller as James’ backup for the 8-12 minutes James is off the floor, coach Erik Spoelstra could play either Wade or James at point guard and put Miller at the vacated position.

Once Miller is on board the team would have just $4 million remaining to spend on free agents. It is possible Riley will try to use this money to persuade forward Udonis Haslem to return to the team. Since the Heat are without their own midlevel and biannual exceptions (sacrificed as part of the process to create cap room), the team would then be limited to offering players only minimum-salary contracts. Riley will have to sell some players on the idea of accepting the minimum in order to be a part of history. In return for their sacrifice the Heat could offer big minutes (including one or perhaps two starting roles), the chance to be part of a media phenomenon and a legitimate shot at the title.

What sort of player would be swayed by such a pitch? The likely candidate is an older veteran who has already banked his nest egg, and is now looking for a ring before he retires.

Coon goes on to mention Shaq, Earl Watson, James Jones and Raja Bell as possible targets for Riley. In my initial piece about how things would work in Miami, I listed the following players:

The list includes, but it is not limited to: Joe Smith, Kurt Thomas, Theo Ratliff, Brad Miller, Rafer Alston, Jerry Stackhouse, Juwan Howard, Eddie House and Matt Bonner.

The Heat could also target Brian Scalabrine, just for comedy’s sake.

It would be another coup if Riley is able to acquire Miller and convince Haslem to stick around at $4 million per season. Along with Chalmers (and possibly Joel Anthony), that would give the Heat a six- or seven-player rotation, and they would just need 2-3 more solid veterans (Derek Fisher, anyone?) to round out the bench.

In other words, this is not going to be as tough as some of the pundits seem to think it will be.

If you sign Wade, Bosh and LeBron, the vets will come.

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