With the deadline to guaranteeing contracts coming up this Monday, the Miami Heat announced that they had waived seldom-used guard Terrel Harris.
Harris, a member of last year’s championship team, was signed to a non-guaranteed deal following a productive preseason where he beat out Garrett Temple for a guard spot. Playing time has been far and thin for Harris, who is averaging 1.4 points on 25 percent shooting to go along with 1.3 boards per in seven games. His season-high for minutes came in a loss to Washington when he had three points on four shots in 12 minutes.
The Heat now have the choice to sign Harris to as many as two ten-day contracts.
Or the Heat could use that final spot for someone who may actually be worth something to the team. Particularly somebody who can rebound? Although the Heat insist that their rebounding woes can be solved internally, there is still an obvious lack of big men who can command a presence on the roster. Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem are the two big men who see any consistent playing time and they are averaging 7.6 and 4.9 boards per respectively.
With Josh Harrellson hardly seeing any playing time and Dexter Pittman being demoted to the D-League for the second time in his NBA career, the Heat roster does not contain any rebounding answers. That would change if Bosh begins putting up numbers like he did in Toronto, but it doesn’t seem possible when his rebounds per have consistently dropped in his three years with the Heat.
As for Haslem? He hasn’t been the same since tearing a ligament in his foot in 2010, and it shows in his inability to rebound in traffic.
In the past, the Heat have addressed similar issues in the form of needing an interior presence to deter shots, play with authority, and command some sort of interior presence. The Heat ended up making mid-season signings out of Erick Dampier in 2011 and Ronny Turiaf in 2012. Both players were given regular season playing time, Dampier starting in 22 games and receiving 16 minutes per and Turiaf starting five games and receiving 17 minutes per, but they also saw their usage waver off come postseason time.
Turiaf started seven postseason games, but his only minutes in the Finals came during garbage-time of Game 5. Dampier, after playing in 51 regular season Heat games, didn’t play a single playoff minute with the Heat.
That may scare off a few potential suitors, but a job is a job and some of these free agent big men certainly would not mind earning the veteran’s minimum and possibly earning a ring, even at the cost of hardly playing in the postseason. What they would be doing, however, is addressing the Heat’s issues in the regular season and keeping the interior defensive and rebounding pressure off of guys like Bosh, Haslem, Shane Battier and LeBron James.
So, who are some possible options you may ask?
Well, the field is extremely thin as you would guess. If you’re a free agent now, you’re a free agent for a reason, whether it may be for off-court issues, on-court demeanor, injury worries, or simply being unable to provide the same production you could provide in years past.
Kenyon Martin has been the sexy pick as of late. He’s an extremely aggressive player who is not afraid to deliver a hard hit, nor has he ever backed down from a confrontation. However, Heat fans are overrating his rebounding ability, failing to note that his rebounding numbers have significantly dropped over the years. Since 2008, Martin has averaged over seven boards per on only one occasion in five seasons.
His career-high in rebounds, not including the 2006-’07 season when he averaged ten boards per in two games, is 9.5 which came in 2004 when he was still with New Jersey. However, he did recently average 9.4 boards as a 32-year-old with the Denver Nuggets in 58 games in the 2009-’10 season. He recently played 42 games with the Los Angeles Clippers, where he averaged 6.9 boards per 36 minutes coming off the bench.
As a free agent, Martin has said that Miami would be his primary destination. The Heat actually offered Martin a contract last February, but were shunned as Kenyon ended up going to Los Angeles.
However, Martin is also undersized at 6’9″ and what the Heat don’t need is another undersized forward who is losing their lift.
If they’re interested in looking for a bonafide 7-footer, they have a few players who have played with the team in the past. Earl Barron, a recent castoff of the Washington Wizards, and Mickell Gladness, a castoff of the Heat’s preseason squad, are still looking for jobs.
Barron, listed at 7′, played 11 games for the Wizards this season and averaged 2.5 points and 3.9 boards per, good enough for 12.7 boards per 36 minutes. He had a 14-rebound, 4-block outing in 26 minutes in a loss to Atlanta. He also recorded eight boards in 16 minutes against Cleveland, but was waived by the Wizards on December 22nd.
He played his first three seasons with the Heat, averaging as much as 7.1 points and 4.3 boards per while starting 15 games in the forgettable 2007-’08 season.
Gladness, standing at 6’11”, has yet to play since a productive end of the season with the Golden State Warriors last season. He started seven games and averaged 8.7 points, 7.6 boards and 3.1 blocks per 36 minutes in 17 games. Before then, he played in eight games with the Heat, mostly being subjected to garbage-time minutes.
He lost a battle with Josh Harrellson for the one of the final two roster spots this preseason.
Among other possible candidates:
Solomon Jones: A 6’10” journeyman who played 11 games with the Hornets last year and has yet to play a regular season game this year. He averaged 5.5 points and 3.7 boards per, career-highs, in his short time with New Orleans.
Troy Murphy: Was offered a mid-season contract by the Heat in 2011, but turned down the deal for one in Boston. He recently played 14 games this season with the Dallas Mavericks where he averaged 4.6 points and 3.5 boards, but was waived November 29th. Murphy was a notable rebounder early in his career with Golden State and Indiana, but has become a journeyman playing with four different teams in four years.
Other possible candidates: Darko Milicic, Chris Andersen, Ben Wallace, Mikki Moore, Hassan Whiteside, and Tony Battie.