July 18, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Miami Heat center Mickell Gladness (21) and Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli (31) box out under the basket for a rebound during the game at the Thomas and Mack Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Miami Heat Hopefuls: Could 14th and 15th Players Actually Serve a Role?


I have spent far too much time discussing what borderline roster players will play their way onto the Miami Heat’s opening day roster.

The first step is admitting you have a problem, so at least we’re on the right track.

This debilitating condition will need to be treated at another time. The Miami Heat have already started training camp and we already one week away from the first preseason game, a home meeting with the Atlanta Hawks–one that LeBron James said he’s likely to play limited minutes in, according to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh.

The training camp and preseason won’t be utilized to see which Heat lineups work the best. Instead, it’ll be used to clear up some rotational battles, as well as finding the last two players to fill out the roster. Miami currently has 20 players signed, but only 13 with guaranteed deals. They’ll have to whittle it down to 15 players by the start of the season on October 30th.

The players competing for those two final spots will be center’s Mickell Gladness and Josh Harrellson, forward’s Jarvis Varnado, Rodney Carney and Robert Dozier, and guard’s Garrett Temple and Terrel Harris. Gladness, Varnado, Dozier and Harris have all been previously linked to the Heat, with Harris being a member of the 2012 championship team. Varnado and Dozier are former draft picks, while Gladness played eight games with the team last year before getting waived in February.

What this comes down to is who fits in the Heat’s unique system and who could possibly fill in a role during the regular season. As deep as the Heat’s bench currently is, it’s unlikely that any of these players would end up receiving consistent minutes throughout the season. The Heat are stocked with wing players and even though they could afford to have some size, the players that will fill that void are unlikely to be seen in the postseason with the team likely to revert back to the small-ball lineup that helped them win a title.

However, there does seem to be a need for size, at least in the regular season. As much as Chris Bosh states how ready he is to take on the role of a center, it would still be unwise of the Heat to allow their star power forward consistently competing with players who will outweigh him. Miami needs to have at least one more player that could be a safety blanket, in case Bosh doesn’t fully adjust to his new position.

Plus, Dexter Pittman hasn’t impressed anyone by any means. Although he has dropped weight, his comments on finally touching his ribs was worth the laugh, the organization may still be wary over how mediocre he played in the team’s Summer League program.

If the Heat plan on signing a center, it’s most likely to be Josh Harrellson. Word is that the team has been impressed with his shooting abilities, which is just an added bonus to finally having a player with size that could do more than simply being large. However, with the Heat so adamant on focusing on the defensive end, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the team ended up signing the athletic shot-blocker in Gladness.

Harrellson has a lot of trouble moving his feet, which explains why he went from Tyson Chandler’s backup to fighting for a roster spot in the span of a year.

It’s more than likely that the Heat end up signing a center as insurance, which leaves one more spot left between three forwards and two guards. If it comes down to that, the final spot will be filled by the player who impressed the most during the month leading up to opening day. As of now, I’d guess Harris has the edge strictly because of his involvement with the team last year.

However, I also wouldn’t count out Garrett Temple. He’s a journeyman who has trouble shooting and ended up not playing last year, but he can run the point and defend the position well.  Although LeBron James is going to end up as the team’s primary facilitator, it may not hurt to add on a third point guard behind Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.

Tags: Miami Heat