To say the Miami Heat’s success in the Orlando bubble has been surprising is an understatement. Last night the team beat the Boston Celtics for its first return trip to the NBA Finals since the departure of LeBron James. And guess who the team will be facing Wednesday night at 9 p.m. on ABC. His bald spot, of course, has grown in the years since along with his reputation.
Led by the strong-willed Jimmy Butler and the very athletic Bam Adebayo, the Heat is a young-and-hungry team looking to succeed on a long-term basis. Here are the five best free agency fits for the Miami Heat this offseason.
Serge Ibaka, 31, Toronto Raptors, $21.6M
Serge Ibaka is a 7-foot power forward for the Toronto Raptors who could stretch the floor for the Miami Heat and protect the rim. Most fans love Kelly Olynyk, but he plays poor defense and is very slow on his feet. (In crunch time, most teams switch to a smaller and faster lineup.) Ibaka would be perfect because he’s only 30 years old, and proved in last year’s NBA finals he’s a great role player. And he’s quick enough to guard smaller players.
Since Chris Bosh retired, Miami hasn’t had a power forward with a high enough basketball IQ to help to win a title. With Miami’s success this postseason, this would only make them better. And they won’t have to spend much to acquire Ibaka.
Jerami Grant, 26, Denver Nuggets, $9M
Denver Nuggets small forward Jerami Grant was only viewed as a high-flying dunker, streaky shooter, and defender after entering the league. Now at age 26, he’s proving that he’s a complete basketball player. Kawhi Leonard, the Los Angeles Clippers leader and former finals MVP, started very similarly but has now emerged as a top-five NBA player. Miami should take a risk on him because he could provide Jimmy Butler another young, emerging threat and potentially a future superstar.
Demar Derozan, 31, San Antonio Spurs, $27.74M
At 31 years old, Demar Derozan would serve as a very-much needed veteran who boasts an expansive playoff catalog. Fitting in nicely next to the likes of Andre Iguodala and the team leader Udonis Haslem. Derozan’s high-energy hustle and high basketball IQ would work beautifully with the renowned “Heat culture”.
Although he is only 28.2% on threes, Derozan is a very efficient mid-range shooter. He is a career 45.8% on field goals. In a very shooting-reliant league, this would be appreciated by the Heat. In addition, with a high career free throw percentage of 82.9%, Derozan would be a great choice to close out games, which has been a struggle for the Heat.
Montrezl Harrell, 26, Los Angeles Clippers, $6M
If a single word could describe Montrezl Harrell’s game, it would be “passionate.” As a highly energetic player who hustles from the first tip-off to the last second of the game, Harrell would be a perfect fit for the Heat. Harrell is not only the embodiment of “Heat culture”, but he can also be a reliable scorer as a center. This is essential as the Heat’s only scoring big man is Bam Adebayo which frankly, as good as he is, is not enough.
At 6’8” and 240 pounds, Harrell has shot field goals at a career 61.4 % which, for a center, is surprisingly high. Harrell would also be a great replacement for Heat oft-injured center Meyers Leonard, who is a less talented shooter. In addition, Harrell is a great defender who is willing to win at all costs. This just so happens to be the mindset of the Miami Heat organization.
Mason Plumlee, 30, Denver Nuggets, $13.6M
The Denver Nuggets, who lost to the Lakers in the East final, are loaded with talent. Big man Mason Plumlee is as explosive as they come. He’s not the best defender for a center, but his dunks always bring a jolt of electricity to his teammates. Energy like this could spark the Heats’ young players. Plumlee is also a high-energy player who would easily get along with players like Jimmy Butler and Andre Iguodala.
Plumlee also takes smart shots. His high basketball IQ has resulted in a career 57.4% on field goals. Plumlee could also be seen as another welcome veteran for the Heat. At 30 years old, he would come cheap and serve the team for years to come.