Covering the Eastern Conference finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic, and it suddenly hit me. And then it hit me again. And again.
Especially when you get to the point. Point guard, that is. The veteran variety.
It could be argued that one of the Heat's biggest weaknesses this season was the absence of a proven, veteran, play-making point guard it could bring off the bench or use to challenge rookie Mario Chalmers.
Well, these conference finals, particularly in the East, are essentially a Point-Guards-R-Us outlet center.
And it makes you wonder. Why does every other team in the league seem to have a spare Flip Murray on the roster, yet the Heat goes two seasons without one? Shaun Livingston didn't have the legs. Marcus Banks lacked the skills. And Penny Hardaway - dare we say - didn't have anything left other than pleasant memories of when he used to be somebody in this league.
This Magic-Cavs series is stocked with serviceable, stop-gap type veteran parts at the point that Miami either tried to get and couldn't, parted with too soon or probably should have pursued harder when it had the chance.
Orlando has three of them: Rafer Alston, Anthony Johnson and Tyronn Lue.
Cleveland has one: Mo Williams, who understandably went for the money grab in Milwaukee and turned down Miami as a free agent. He was then dealt to Cleveland.
Even the Lakers can haunt the Heat here: The final piece of the Shaq trade was the pick the Lakers ultimately used to draft Jordan Farmar.
And what do Farmar, Carter, Williams (Heat get a pass here), Alston, Johnson and Lue all have in common? Each would just be the type of backup the Heat so desperately needed this season. Many - if not all of them - would have started for Miami. These cats aren't saviors by any stretch. But they can be short-term, serviceable solutions that Dwyane Wade can trust and respect in the backcourt.
They can also groom Chalmers.
I know. I know. The last time the Heat went for its own Flip, it ended up getting Smush-ed. And burned.
It's well past time to address this need. It won't cost much. It won't break the salary cap. It won't send Miami too deep into the luxury tax. It might have, however, sent the Heat a round deeper in the playoffs. So it's worth the investment, isn't it?
After all, the Heat never did have an answer off the bench against the Hawks for Murray, who played a key role in flipping the Heat out of the postseason.
Pat Riley, one of the NBA's ultimate deal-makers, was able to get a second-round draft pick out of the Magic two years ago for releasing Stan Van Gundy from his coaching-turned-consulting contract with the Heat.
In hindsight, Riley probably should have held out for the option to take one of the Magic's 26 veteran backup point guards instead. Filling this void would be one small but significant step toward roster improvement for the 2009-10 season.
Get my point?
(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)