Miami Heat: Does Garrett Temple Deserve a Spot over Terrel Harris?


Rounding out the Miami Heat’s final two spots on its active roster is going to require the team to give a contract to at least one of the big men that are competing; most likely being either Josh Harrellson or Mickell Gladness.

It’s unlikely the team would use those vacancies to bring on two centers. Miami’s use of the ‘small-ball’ and ‘positionless’ lineups have led to Chris Bosh, Shane Battier and LeBron James at the four and five positions, in order to have the best players on the floor at all times. The Heat haven’t had the good fortune of having a reliable center who can create an impact on both ends of the floor, which has left the team using a position on the floor where a player couldn’t score.

Since Miami is choosing to start Battier and Bosh at the four and five respectively, it’s going to the leave the Heat with the opportunity to hand a contract to one of the guards in Terrel Harris or Garrett Temple.

Harris is a familiar name amongst the Heat community as a seldom-used reserve guard that was a part of the championship team. He went undrafted out of Oklahoma State and was picked up following the release of Eddie House. In the 22 games he was featured, Harris averaged 9.1 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per 36 minutes, but only shot 35 percent from the field and 21 percent from beyond the arc.

While Harris’ numbers weren’t exactly mind-blowing, the coaching staff was impressed by his tenacity and aggressive play around the boards and on the defensive end. The 6’4″ guard recorded 14 rebounds in a triple-overtime victory over Atlanta where he played 43 minutes as a result of absences from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He also had an excellent all-around effort in a loss against Memphis, posting up 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in 26 minutes.

Harris is a good project for a Heat team that is laden with veterans. However, just how much could the 25-year-old provide on a team with so many wing players? Miami has attempted to convert Harris into a point guard over the first few preseason games, but have come away with little success which includes five turnovers in his debut against Atlanta.

He hasn’t been featured much since. Garrett Temple, however, has been stepping up in the process and may have given the Heat some more initiative into signing a third point guard. That idea has only been enhanced with regular starter Mario Chalmers dealing with an injury to his quad and yet to play in a game and Norris Cole still struggling with turnovers as the primary ball-handler.

Of course the Heat do have the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mike Miller and Ray Allen to play the role of distributor, but that also means finding a reserve to fill in for at their natural positions, as well as it not always being ideal for either of those four to constantly run the point throughout. As quality a point guard as LeBron can be, the Heat don’t want him constantly chasing smaller guards on the defensive end.

Plus, Temple has arguably been the best on-the-fence player to compete for a spot, with the possible exception of Rodney Carney and his shooting ability. Carney being a small forward, however, hurts his stock with the Heat already have James, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, James Jones and Rashard Lewis all plenty capable of running at Rodney’s desired position. The same cannot be said for Temple and his pursuit of a job as the team’s third-string point guard.

Temple had five assists and one turnover in his debut in the Heat’s first meeting with the Clippers and recently had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting to go along with two rebounds in nearly 12 minutes.

Temple, a 6’6″ floor general who made his NBA debut in 2009, has already been a member of five different teams. He spent the 2011-’12 season finishing off a stint with San Antonio before getting waived and signing two 10-day contracts with Milwaukee. He would finish his season off with Charlotte, putting up numbers and percentages that would immediately make you think otherwise of Temple’s chances to make the team.

He’s obviously not receiving minutes from these organizations for a reason. He’s not a good shooter, which works against the Heat’s idea of creating space on the offensive end, but he does fit into the scheme of creating mismatches and playing solid defense on the other end. While his offense may be limited at some facets, Temple is still capable of leading an offense without turning the ball over or making poor decisions.

But let’s not forget that these final two positions are more than likely going to feature two players in insignificant roles. The 14th and 15th players hardly get any time and it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get playing time on this team, which attempts to get its best players on the floor at all times. Plus, with the acquisitions of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, there’s a bit of a logjam and it’s even likely to eat away at Norris Cole’s minutes.

If there’s hardly any time for the second-string point guard, what makes you think the third-string will get any time?

Whether it’s Terrel Harris or Garrett Temple taking up one of those spots, they’ll be mostly  featured in the ridiculous amount of garbage-time the Heat will likely be featured in. The Heat are going to run with a rotation off the bench that will probably include Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis and Mike Miller. However, if not everything pans out the way it’s being anticipated, there’s going to be time for a Garrett Temple to log some minutes.

Temple, Harris and the rest of the hopeful camp players will have four more attempts to prove their worth, starting off with a Saturday afternoon matinee against San Antonio and followed up with a visit to Charlotte and two final home games against Washington and New Orleans. It all leads up to the opener October 30th against the Boston Celtics.