Among the hoopla and hurricane of free agency rumors, it can be easy to forget the little people.
And by little people, I mean, physically, the biggest free agent the Miami Heat have this season.
Remember Chris Andersen? You know, the guy who opted out of his $1.4 million deal to test free agency.
Focused on retaining LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it is understandable why Heat president Pat Riley has seemingly bumped the Birdman down on his to-do list.
Riley should be careful not to wait too long, though, as recent reports have mentioned the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets as potential landing spots for Bird.
Don’t overreact to Heat opt-outs. Hearing, for instance, that Dallas will inquire about Texas-bred Andersen. But that preference is to stay.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
Andersen is seemingly seeking a raise this summer, having said “Big money goes first” to reporters last month. However, teams may not be willing to give Andersen, 35, a significant pay bump. All of this could be positioning for even the slightest raise from Miami, where he prefers to finish his career.
But Miami should be careful, especially if reports that Riley is chasing Pau Gasol are true (and they probably are).
Miami’s pursuits of other free agents may sway Andersen to sign somewhere else where he is needed. If the Heat signed Gasol, for example, Bird could see significantly less playing time.
Bosh and Gasol would likely start games, but who is to say Andersen would be the first front-court player off the bench? Erik Spoelstra could opt to go small upon the first substitution, bringing a spacing forward (Rashard Lewis?) off the bench and sliding Bosh back to center.
(There is also the possibility that the Heat don’t even want to bring back Andersen, who suffered from a thigh bruise in the conference and NBA Finals. This seems unlikely, since Andersen will still be cheaper than most free agent centers and is appreciated in the locker room, but it’s worth a mention.)
Of course, it is tough for Miami to make a move while the Big Three remain free agents. The contracts they sign would dictate how much money the Heat have to offer to Andersen, among others. But if Miami is too busy chasing other players, Andersen could slip out from under them.