According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, the Miami Heat could be interested in San Antonio Spurs’ center DeJuan Blair.
Broussard lists the Heat as one of three possible teams that could be interested in Blair along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics.
SA offered D Blair to Detroit but nothing. Hear Boston, Miami, Portland could have interest.
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) February 12, 2013
In his three-and-a-half seasons in the NBA, Blair has averaged eight points and six rebounds per game. However those numbers have been dragged down by a 2012-13 season that has seen injuries and the emergence of Tiago Splitter, resulting in a reduction of minutes for the fourth-year center out of Pittsburgh.
Blair, who’s only 23 years old, had his best season in 2010-11 when he averaged 8.3 points and seven rebounds per game while playing in all 82 games for San Antonio, averaging 21.4 minutes per game. Assuming he comes to Miami, Blair should approach those averages with a Heat team that despite the signing of Chris Andersen is still struggling for size in their front court.
The biggest red flag for Blair has been his knees, as he doesn’t have an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in either of his knees. Despite this he played in all 82 regular season games in his 2009-10 rookie campaign, played in 81 out of 82 games in 2010-11, then played in 64 out of 66 games in the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season.
So far this season, Blair has played in 38 out of the 53 games San Antonio has played, and for his career is averaging 19.3 minutes per game for his career.
Blair would be a suitable replacement for Udonis Haslem off the bench, and would be an upgrade offensively from Joel Anthony. Featuring him in a role like that would allow him to excel in Miami in the best possible way.
As for trade pieces, Miami is already at the league maximum of salary spaces due to the Heat signing Chris Andersen and Jarvis Varnado for the season, so they won’t be able to trade the Philadelphia first round pick Miami owns in 2013 for Blair straight up. The Heat will have to trade a player, and that player will likely be little-used sharp shooter James Jones, who’s salary matches up with Blair’s in any trade.
As hard as this is to believe however, this isn’t really a deal that Miami has to make. While Blair would be a nice piece, he won’t really provide Miami with anything that they don’t currently have already with Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen up front. He is younger and more polished offensively than Joel Anthony, but he’s not the game-changer up front that would really take Miami over the rebounding hump (a hump that looks like it could be smaller come playoff time with the current players on Miami’s roster).
On top of that, while Blair is only signed for the rest of the season, his expiring contract won’t provide Miami with any major salary cap or luxury tax relief.