Miami Heat 2013-14 Team Review

Result and why:

After dominating the Eastern Conference in the first three seasons of the Big Three’s existence, the Heat’s 54-28 record had them playing second fiddle to the Indiana Pacers, who from the start of the season were intent on topping the Eastern Conference.
Stephenson tried, and failed,
to rattle the Heat

However, when it came to the Playoffs, the Pacers’ relative inexperience compared to Miami, coupled with their episodes of immaturity, in particular from Lance Stephenson, saw them lose to Miami in six games, though it could have easily taken fewer games.

The Heat’s bid to become just the fourth franchise in NBA history to three-point would eventually come up short, with a disappointing loss in five games to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. Miami was outclassed for much of the series, with their win being a slender two point margin of victory, compared to the Spurs, who won by 15 points or more in the other four games.

Standout star:

LeBron James was once again the standout player for the Heat last season. Once again he put up MVP worthy numbers, and if Kevin Durant had not have had such an impressive season he would have surely won the award for the third straight season. In 77 regular season games, LeBron averaged numbers of 27.1 points, while shooting a career best 56.7% from the field, to go along with 6.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
James scored a Heat record
61 points against Charlotte

With Dwyane Wade sitting out of 28 regular season games to rest his ailing knee, this put the onus even more on LeBron to lead his team to victory, and he duly delivered. This was most evident in Miami’s game against Charlotte; with Wade missing, LeBron erupted for a career high and Miami Heat record of 61 points, leading his team to a resounding victory. This was made even more impressive due to the fact that he was playing with a protective mask on his face due to him having a broken nose.

James’ stats did not deviate much in the Playoffs, and had his team gone on to win the Finals he would have surely been named Finals MVP for a third successive season. Unfortunately, his teammates were somewhat hit-and-miss, and a complete lack of bench production meant that even LeBron’s heroics could not see Miami through to the finish line.

Offseason needs:

For Miami to make any major progress during this offseason and, in particular, the upcoming free agency period, they needed their Big Three to all opt out of their contracts, which they have done. Now, before throwing your computer out of the window in disgust, consider this:
Can Miami keep the Big 3 together?

If James, Wade and Bosh had all opted in to their contracts, Miami would be paying them a combined total of around $62 million. With Norris Cole ($2.1 million) the only player with a guaranteed contracted for next season after Udonis Haslem opted out of his contract, this would have brought Miami’s total salary being paid next season to approximately $64 million. The salary cap for next season is expected to be $62.1 million, with the luxury tax set at $75.7million, which would not have left Miami much room to sign another eight players or so.

Reports have surfaced in the last few days stating that James is seeking a max deal to stay in Miami. If the Heat were to offer this, they would need Bosh and Wade to take a significant pay cut, something that they could be willing to do. James recently met for dinner with Bosh, Wade and Haslem to discuss their options, and his teammates reportedly understand LeBron’s wish to secure a max contract.

If Bosh takes the $15 million-a-year contract he is reportedly looking for, and if Wade signs for somewhere in the region of $12 million, then signing LeBron to a max deal and still leaving cap space to sign players to put around them would still be possible.

Lowry could be the playmaker
the Heat have been looking for
If the Heat were to achieve this, the next step for them should be to aggressively chase a ball handler during free agency. Kyle Lowry has been linked heavily with the South Beach team in recent weeks, and he would fit the bill perfectly. Miami are in desperate need of a player who can run the offense so that it does not always have to run through James and Wade.

Lowry earned over $6 million last season, and could easily command the same amount, if not more, in free agency. However, it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to entice him into taking less money to join the Big Three and earn his first NBA Championship ring.

If the Heat is able to make these signings, the next issue they must address is improving their options on the bench. Miami’s substitutes were collectively among the oldest in the league, and it showed last season. They looked weary and failed to produce all too often, leaving Miami’s starting group under a lot of pressure to perform.

Team outlook:

At the time of writing the future is still very uncertain for Miami. We are just hours away from the free agency period starting, and it will most likely be at least a few days before any signings are made.

Until such a time that signings can be finalized, it is hard to predict how a team will fare in the upcoming season, even more so when in Norris Cole, Miami only has one player signed to a guaranteed contract for next season, although the signing of rookie Shabazz Napier will soon take that total to two.

However, when you take into consideration what Pat Riley has been able to accomplish in the past, such as bringing Bosh and James to Miami to team up with Wade, it would be foolish not to consider the Heat as once again a leading contender for the Eastern Conference title, and perhaps even the NBA title.

For now, all Miami fans can do is sit back and let the madness unfold.

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