Miami Heat: Josh Harrellson Waived, is the Birdman Swooping In to Take his Spot?

Just like that, the Miami Heat are down two players on their roster.

Most importantly, they’re down to one true center after waiving 6’10″ Josh Harrellson and his non-guaranteed deal. Harrellson had beat out Mickell Gladness for a roster spot in preseason, but appeared in only five regular season games. He averaged 2 points and 1.4 rebounds per, receiving his one legitimate chance in a game against Milwaukee where he scored five points on 2-of-5 shooting while missing all three of his three-point attempts.

He played 17 minutes, having as many fouls (3) as he did rebounds (2).

Harrellson performed well in garbage-time minutes against Memphis, scoring five points on 2-of-2 shooting and grabbing four rebounds in three minutes. Minutes were hard to come by for the former New York Knick, even on a Heat team that has severe rebounding problems and currently ranks 29th in total rebounds per. The small-ball lineup made Harrellson obsolete, subjecting him to treatment that former Heat centers such as Erick Dampier and Joel Anthony have received.

With Harrellson waived, the Heat are left with Joel Anthony as their only true center. Chris Bosh is currently starting for the Heat at the five, but his rebounding has a key issue and direct problem as to why the Heat have been one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams. Bosh is averaging 7.6 rebounds per, the lowest since his rookie season, and his defensive rebounding percentage is also the lowest since his rookie year.

Although he is grabbing 2.3 offensive boards per, his most in three years with the Heat, it has hardly strengthened any sort of claim that Bosh is the man for the arduous job of banging down low and constantly competing for rebounds against players who outweigh him.

What the Heat need is someone who can come off the bench, provide high energy, play aggressive under the rim, and, most importantly, fight for rebounds. Unfortunately for Harrellson, his lack of speed was his downfall. Even after dropping over 30 pounds since joining the Heat, he’s not quick enough to keep up with Miami’s defense and isn’t the type of rebounder who can go over-the-top of opposing rebounders.

Which probably explains why the Heat are going to bring in Chris Andersen for a workout Tuesday. Without a team all year, ‘Birdman’ is going to be the first player the organization looks at since waivers were issued to Harrellson and Terrel Harris. While many expected it would be Kenyon Martin walking through the door for a workout, the Heat are instead giving the opportunity to Andersen because of his height, energy, and defensive capabilities.

A bit too similar to Joel Anthony? In some ways, especially when it comes to their shot-blocking and overall defensive abilities. However, Anthony’s hands have prevented him from being a reliable rebounder. In six years with the Heat, Anthony has failed to grab four boards per and hasn’t grabbed more than seven boards per 36 minutes neither. Andersen, on the other hand, just averaged 4.6 boards as a 33-year-old with Denver last year, good enough for 11 boards per 36.

His total rebounding percentages also blow Anthony’s out of the water. In Andersen’s memorable comeback in the 2008-’09 season, his TRB% finished at 17.6; Anthony’s best has been 11.5, which is currently occurring in a year where he has hardly received any sort of consistent minutes.

Andersen averaged a career-high 2.5 blocks per–4.3 per 36 minutes–in 71 games with the Nuggets in the 2008-’09 season. However, his minutes began to dwindle in the following years. In his final season with Denver, he had only played in 32 games averaging 5.3 points, 4.6 boards, and 1.4 blocks per in 15 minutes per game.

If the Heat follow-through and offer ‘Birdman’ a contract, it would be similar to the signing they made of Ronny Turiaf last year. Like Andersen, Turiaf is also a high-energy player who can provide defensive and rebounding assistance. His rebounding numbers, however, pale in comparison to that of Andersen’s.

What Andersen provides that Turiaf, Anthony, Bosh and whichever other big men in question that is or has been a part of this Heat team is rebounding. Even at the age of 34, Andersen still has plenty left in him considering he’s only played 8,605 minutes in ten seasons. His lack of minutes in that decade-long span has come as a result of injuries, falling out of rotation, and a drug problem that caused a year-long departure from the league.

Andersen ended up having two of the best years of his career upon re-entering the league.

We probably won’t see much of Andersen in the postseason, which is fine. He will be here to take the pressure off the Heat’s small lineup for the regular season by doing as much as he can to make up for the fact that the likes of Shane Battier is playing as the team’s power forward. Andersen will be brought in simply to make life easier for the likes of Battier, Bosh, and even LeBron James who leads the team in rebounding because of the slack he has had to pick up due to the use of smaller lineups.

Topics: Chris Andersen, Josh Harrellson, Miami Heat, NBA

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