The story of yesterday: the “little brother” of the big three, Mario Chalmers, is going to be back with the Miami Heat for the 2013-2014 season.
The story of today: the Miami are looking to three-peat with basically the same team that they’ve won back-to-back NBA titles with.
The story of tomorrow: Mario Chalmers’ contract is up, and there is a good chance that he won’t be able to come back.
With Chalmers entering the last year of his deal and the Heat burdened with three giant contracts, the player the Heat took (well, traded for on draft night) back in 2008 will likely be in the hunt for a new home come the 2014 off-season. While it’s great to wish that the Heat could pay for him, it isn’t happening unless Chalmers or someone else took a pay cut. Consequently, Miami may look to sign a cheap veteran like Sebastian Telfair as a stop gap. Or, the Heat could look to acquire a draft pick somewhere in the first round in 2014 in a draft rich with talent. However, I think the Heat have what they need already.
First off, there’s the disappearing act, Norris Cole. After playing relatively well in the first few games of the 7 Game NBA finals classic this past post-season, Norris Cole only played 7 minutes in the Game 5 blowout loss and couldn’t find his way onto the court in Games 6 and 7.
But if you take out those three last games, Norris Cole had a very productive season in his role behind Chalmers on this NBA Championship squad. Cole averaged 5.6 points and 2.1 assists in 19.9 minutes per game during the regular season. He showed poise under pressure in his ability to handle the ball and lead the offense (when Lebron wasn’t playing point).
The luxury of a second point guard who can dribble the basketball is huge. As shown with the Indiana Pacers series where point guard play killed them, even without the high school/college type full-court pressure it is still necessary to have ball-handlers on the floor. Take Oklahoma City, Chicago, and Boston for example, all of the teams were very disorganized without their floor generals. Nearly all the top teams last season, Miami (Chalmers/Cole), San Antonio (Parker), Memphis (Conley), Golden State (Curry/Jack) had great point guard play. Miami only magnified the importance of having quality point guard play with Chalmers and Cole both showing up big in key moments in the title run.
The Heat have Cole locked up for next season, a team option for 2014-2015, and then a qualifying offer in 2015-2016. So, Cole could be here for awhile.
Along with Cole, the Heat have a couple of interesting point guard prospects playing in the summer league in Orlando right now.
The first is Myck Kabongo, who Jae Bradley thinks can be the steal of the 2013 NBA Draft. Kabongo is a pass-first point guard with great vision. He averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists, and 2 steals a game last season as a member of the Texas Longhorns. Kabongo is still a ways off from being the guy for the Heat, but he definitely fits the bill with his skill set.
Another player to look at from a distance is Larry Drew II. He’s the son of Larry Drew, the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks. After a few disappointing seasons with the North Carolina Tar Heels, “Drew Two” disappeared from the college basketball world before breaking out last season to lead the Pac 12 conference in assists with the UCLA Bruins. Larry Drew II likely won’t be seen on an NBA court this season, but with a little time, his point guard instincts and ability could translate well into a solid three, or even a two on an NBA teams’ bench.
Would it be great to keep a great poing guard like Chalmers or even sign an upgrade? Sure. But the James/Wade/Bosh trio isn’t getting any cheaper. Whether its Cole and Kabongo or Drew II bringing the ball up the floor, or some other combination, the Heat can always give the ball to 6’8, 250 Ib, M.V.P. Lebron James.