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The Roster: Rank and File

One of the Miami Heat's biggest strengths last season was also its biggest weakness.

Fluidity. The playing rotation was never settled. Coach Erik Spoelstra intended to eventually establish a Spo-timeout pecking order that would have established an eight-player group night in and night out. Eventually he gave up and went with an all-hands-on-deck approach.

In part, the problem was that some of the available hands were unable to stay healthy or productive enough to hold down a solid role. Another issue was that Spoelstra (right) struggled as a first-year coach to find his way through this rotation situation and never closed the door on any possibility - or player. Pat Riley's hand-picked successor couldn't have been more anti-Riley in this regard.

It was an approach that created the Michael Beasley debate and - ultimately - the Michael Beasley/Udonis Haslem dilemma. It cleared the way for the Yakhouba Diawara experiment, one that saw him go from the inactive list one week and into the starting lineup the next, and back into street clothes the following. It allowed for the Jamaal Magloire opportunity, one that saw the Big Cat embrace the role of resident banger/enforcer when given a shot to shake off the bench-induced rigor mortis.

You thought you were done in December with Chris Quinn. Instead, you met him again in March.

And it all essentially left nothing resolved. 

That's one reason the Heat will open training camp five weeks from now facing far more questions than answers regarding its roster and roles.

Is this team in "End Now" mode, with more than $40 million in expiring contracts coming off the books after this season? Or is it in "Win Now" mode, with Wade in the midst of his prime years heading into free agency uncertainty next summer? We certainly know - based on this offseason - that Miami isn't in "Spend Now" mode, despite its long-shot pursuit of Lamar Odom, because the plan has always been to wait, to cash in and splurge in the summer of 2010?

So where does that leave the Heat right now? With essentially 14 players in the mix, 13 under contract, a 12-man "active" roster that will almost certainly change frequently on game night and with about 11 players who are candidates to find themselves as key contributors one week and among the missing on the back of a carton of milk the next.

With a little more than a month to go before camp opens, we rank the Heat's roster - as it currently stands - based on a combination of value to the team, expectations, ability and priority in the pecking order entering the Sept. 28 start of training camp.

14. Chris Quinn - The team's handling of Quinn has been questionable. This summer has been no exception. He was given a $1.1 million option as part of last year's contract to return this season almost certainly as a third-string PG. It's a deal that ultimately might prevent the Heat from adding a much-needed, experienced veteran.

13. Dorell Wright - It's officially breakthrough or bust for Wright. There's no more middle ground for the 2004 first-round pick who will earn $2.7  million this season, which equates to a $5.4 million hit when factoring the luxury-tax penalty. And who said Miami didn't spend its mid-level exception this summer?

12. Pat Beverley - The Heat invested $1.5 million to acquire him in the second round of the June draft. For that alone, he's got to be in the plans - although he remains unsigned. The fact that Quinn and Beverley are this deep on the board shows you just how big of a void there is with the PG depth. 

New Cook11. Yakhouba Diawara- Also a member of "The Expirings," Diawara is essentially a roster mistress. Spoelstra couldn't get enough of the defensive-minded small forward one moment. The next, Khouba was shoved aside and found himself retrieving in-game stats for coaches during timeouts last season. 

10. Joel Anthony - It's Year 3 of the Joel Project. There isn't a teammates he hasn't embarrassed with a ferocious dunk or block in practice. But in games, there isn't a low-post entry pass he hasn't been able to fumble away. The shot-blocker remains as raw as Eddie Murphy in that purple leather suit in 1987.

9. Jamaal Magloire - Arguably the best offseason move the Heat made was bringing back the Big Cat. Yes, it's been that kind of summer. Still, D. Wade got back his bodyguard and the Heat got back an intimidating defender and rebounder for those moments Jermaine O'Neal feels an indifference toward loose balls.

8. Quentin Richardson- Q may have an opportunity to start at SF for the simple fact that no one else has stepped up yet. Trading Mark Blount for someone who could sing the national anthem every night would have been a productive trade for Miami. So getting a double-figure scorer in Richardson should almost register a coup.

7. Daequan Cook- Last year's 3-point All-Star shootout champ may be nearing a crossroads. The mid-first-round draft status, the inconsistent play and the nagging injury concerns could put Cook (above, left) on course for Dorellwrightville instead of a key rotation role if he doesn't get it going early this season. 

6. James Jones- Miam's 2008 top free-agent pickup missed most of last season with a wrist injury that has altered his stroke. He finished as the starting SF when since-departed Jamario Moon was hurt. Jones must prove he is what the Heat thought he was when he got that 5-year partially guaranteed deal. 

UD-Beasley5. Udonis Haslem- Debate, if you must, UD's value. Argue that he is standing in the way of Michael Beasley's development if he continues to start at power forward. But no one on the team has sacrificed as much to focus almost exclusively on the dirty work, played through as many injuries and has exhausted every ounce of his ability as Haslem (left, with Beasley in background). 

4. Mario Chalmers - Riley has put a lot of faith and trust in the second-year point guard. Enough to say he wouldn't sign anyone to start ahead of Chalmers, despite glaring needs, this summer. That puts a ton of pressure on Chalmers. Sure, Wade handles the ball a lot. But Mario's essentially all there is at PG on the roster. 

3. Jermaine O'Neal - Jermaine has declined media interviews this summer to focus on getting healthy. Fine. Actions speak much louder than words. And his action on the court will determine how much of a contender Miami will be this season. Set to collect $23 million this season in the final year of his deal, Jermaine is being paid like a superstar. He needs to perform at something close to an All-Star - or at least the second-best center in the Southeast Division. 

2. Michael Beasley - Regardless of which side you fall on the Beasley debate, here's what you need to ask yourself about last year's No. 2 overall pick: If - and it's a colossal IF - Wade does the unthinkable and bounces next summer as a free agent, can Beasley anchor the franchise through what is sure to be a difficult regrouping, rebuilding, rehabilitation process? Could he offer the stability Chris Paul does in New Orleans? The production and promise Kevin Durant exudes in Oklahoma City? The leadership, steadiness and upside Derrick Rose already shows in Chi-town? I don't think Beasley has convinced the Heat of any of this yet. This season may go a long way in doing so. 

1. Dwyane Wade - From movie deals to real estate contracts to new shoe endorsements, D. Wade WADE-outcasthas put his signature on seemingly every binding document placed before him this summer. Except one: That contract extension to commit long-term right now to the Miami Heat. Because of the power and influence he holds at this moment, Wade is the most important person in the history of the franchise. If he walks next summer as a free agent, the Heat must start from scratch. Almost in the form of 1988 all over again as far as NBA relevance. Pat Riley's reputation would take a huge hit. Because it would not only mean the Hall of Famer ended his coaching career with the worst season in franchise history two seasons ago, he would also be the executive who oversaw Wade's departure after gambling the franchise's future on 2010. Unless you can rebound with a LeBron James or Kobe Bryant signing, no amount of cap space could buy back the credibility of the franchise. Having said all of that, Wade only has to do three things to make this all work out the way it should for Miami: Avoid a major injury this season, get the Heat back into the playoffs to make things interesting and re-sign for $120 million over six years next summer.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

 

Comments

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Good article. I would love to see the departure of chris quinn. I disagree with Wright being put so low. I would move him up at least 3 spots from what i've read about his teammates comments on his health/game. I'm hopin for a 4 seed in the east and beating ATL!!!! sweet revenge. Then i expect a championship in 2010-11. WADE, Bosh, Beasley, and another stud FA. Championship..

I personally believe "Wrong" was put in the right spot. With Quentin Richardson added, this makes the "useless except for practice" Wright despensible. Iverson's still out there though.

As for Quinn, with Pat added to this team, Quinn's not really needed on this team anymore. I'm sorry. We have enough people on this team who can hit 3's. He should've took his development more seriously.

Mike, good article. Basically agree with your analysis except for Dorell which I agree with MV3--I think he should follow Big Cat. A minor point, Beasley has the scoring potential of Durant and is a better rebounder--if he gets his 30~35' a game. I'd also dispute Rose's leadership role, but as I said it's a minor point. Key to a strong season for the Heat will be on Oneal's shoulders to get 18/10 and 2.5 blocks a game.

Mike , you forgot #15.
Eric Spoelstra, that's where he ranks unless he
can improve in a lot of areas. I don't see anything but small improvements likely from him,
so I'm not looking for this team to surprise.
And if the Heat plans produce a blockbuster team in 2010-11, he won't be coaching it, for sure.
It'll be Pat Riley, or an established coach.

I guess your going for quality vs. quantity. Mike, I can't stress it enough, great work. LOL "bench-induced rigor mortis."

"The next, Khouba was shoved aside and found himself retrieving in-game stats for coaches during timeouts last season. "

Man great stuff, its nice to have a good laugh when reading about the dismal heat offseason.

WOW!

Udonis the weak spot in that starting line-up? And could you clear up 'dirty work'. What he does is effort/efficiency/teamwork. Why is it dirty work for him to fight for loose balls, box out, helpside defend? That's his job, he takes it seriously, like a professional. Oh, dirty work means stats that ESPN don't glorify.

O'Neal's 'indifference to loose balls' could be said about #2's game also. Chalmers, Haslem BOTH deserve to be in front of B-Easy. There is a reason Wade and Mourning said he doesn't have the foot speed to play at SF and not strong enough to play PF. These are guys that see EVERY practice, off-season workout, summer league game, and don't just think he should play based on his draft number.

Quinn not taking his job seriously??? Didn't Riles say he was the hardest working practice player he's ever been around? Get past the lack of college hoopla and his physical characteristics and judge him on what he brings to the team.

Wade is NOT bouncing after next year, and if he does, it isn't because the HEAT didn't offer him the world.

Actually Greg, I actually LIKED Chris Quinn ( and still kinda do). Seriously. The guy was money at Notre Dame. But he's a little to passive on offense for me. He hardly ever drives to the basket and he looks as if he's afraid to get defended from time to time. Maybe thats all changed, but if it were up to me to decide between Quinn and Pat, i'd choose Pat. No lie.

Good article. I think beas making 1st team all rookie as a 6th man getting 24 minutes shows his true value. When given the chance at the end of yr, he avg over 20 and 10 with double doubles in the 1st qtr, so I think we all saw what he can do without the Spo hook around his neck. U have to assume JO is coming back healthy, and if so, that 3 some of wade, beasley, and JO really make the heat a good team.
Also, with max cap next summer, and Bosh not really a superstar, dont be surprised to see Pat Riley try and push hard to pair Lebron and wade. Especially if Lebron gets ousted again in the playoffs, and the fact that his roster is horrible and they dont have cap to add anyone. Could be an interesting summer of 10. Thanks to the Knicks for still sucking, which gives us a shot at Mr James

Mike, I aggree 100% with what you said. If D.Wade walk away from the Heat, it will be a disaster and it will fall on Pat Riley.

Mike

If the Heat miss a shot - Blame Pat Riley

If the Heat lose a game - Blame Pat Riley

If players don't play up to expectation - Blame Pat Riley

If fans don't sell out every home game - Blame Pat Riley

If Blake Griffin is twice the player B-Easy is - Blame Pat Riley

If the Heat don't win the Championship every year - Blame Pat Riley

If we quadruple our national debt in 3 months after Bush leaves office - Blame Bush (almost caught you there, didn't I)

If we can get 1 million people in and out of DC, in one day, in freezin' cold weather for the Presidential Inauguration, but can't get 250,000 people out of New Orleans with 4 days warning and buses waiting to transport individuals - Blame Bush

The blame game -- is it any wonder Bill Cosby was criticized a few years ago when he dared to use the 'r' word - "responsibility". Players have it, coaches/GM's/owners, we ALL have responsibilities. So when you don't live up to your's -- don't blame someone else.

OK what the hell that got 2 do with B-Ball Greggy.If Miami don't make the playoffs and lose D Wayde then Pat is fair game.Just like anybody else(whoes getting top pay) would be who team has fallen apart in the last 4 years.

you guys get off Dwade pipi if he wants to leave! Leave! Nobody is dying!

Why are so many media-tards insisting on coming here? Why not to the Cavs, Magic or even Pacers???? Miami's only attraction (interms of 'basketball team') is Dywane Wade. The rest doesn't matter. These media bandwagoners need to get the 'hail' out and STAY out. That's what I say....

point 5 makes zero sense.You cutting haslem some slack because he does the dirty job this and that.If haslem doesnt do that,then what exactly is what he will be bringing to the heat? his spoon-feed 10 points wade give him nightly?.Beasley needs to start period or we should have drafted mayo

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