When it comes to the Miami Heat, the team operates in a win-now mode with hopes of a three-peat in 2014. But the team also has the looming offseason of 2014 breathing down its neck, and team president Pat Riley admitted he has to start thinking about the next step.
From a report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“We have to think about injecting some younger players,” he said, “and I’m not talking about rookies or draft picks. I’m talking about mature 25-, 26-year-old guys that we know can play, in, underneath [the current veterans]. So, if in fact some of these guys do retire or move on, that we have already developed somewhat of a tap root that will take us into the future.”
The team drafted wing James Ennis. But Riley knows he needs more than that — someone proven to show LeBron and company that a return to Miami might net more rings.
A big, even a resurgent Greg Oden, might not do that. That’s why Riley will target wing players who could step up when Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Ray Allen and even Rashard Lewis move on.
The Heat could conceivably sign one more player to the veteran minimum or use its mid-level exception. But the team has been reluctant to use its MLE, even in dealings with Chris Andersen. It would still have to pay additional luxury-tax penalties on that contract too, so we will talk about free agents who may sign to the minimum.
So, who is available that meets that need?
A former teammate of LeBron, Gibson can play both guard positions and is a good three-point shooter (40.7 percent for his career). He won’t be a liability for the team, averaging just under one turnover per game on his career (0.9) and doesn’t take lousy shots.
Gibson wouldn’t need a ton of playing time and, after being passed up on to this point in free agency, could sign to the minimum and follow LeBron to South Beach. When Ray Allen retires, Gibson could fill the backup shooting guard position in a similar role — as someone who can stretch the floor and, when need be, replace a true point guard on the floor.
Got a better idea? Let us know in the comments section below.