Heat Must Wonder What Could Have Been

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Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Pau Gasol, PF/C – 2 years, $19.5 million (Starts at $9 million, then bumps to $10.5 million):

The Heat need to have a commitment early on from an impact player to show Bosh and Wade that their financial sacrifices were worth it. Gasol is as good a player to start with.

This past year was a difficult one Gasol, as he was stuck on an abysmal Lakers team that was lacking Kobe Bryant. Injuries limited him to 60 games, and he probably wasn’t in much of a hurry to come back. But when he played, he was still impressive. He averaged 17.4 points and 9.7 rebounds per game; he would have led the Heat last season by a margin of almost 3 rebounds per game.

In reality, this spot went to Luol Deng, as he’s a capable wing defender and solid offensive contributor. But Gasol gives the Heat a low-post option that they had been lacking the last four years, as well as someone who can keep a defense honest with his mid-range shooting. He’s also a good passer, which gives Miami some creative options from the center position. Defensively, he’s not that great, but he won’t be a hindrance, either. The Heat could have Gasol and Bosh switch off of big centers, as to not wear them down.

He ended up in Chicago, as the Bulls got him with a 3 year, $30 million pact. In our alternate reality, the Heat would have had a head start in negotiations – they were able to meet with him Fourth of July weekend, originally – as the Bulls were hot on the trail of Carmelo Anthony, as well as still deciding what to do with Carlos Boozer. Miami being able to offer more money, as opposed to the lower offer they probably showed him, as well as the chance to play for a contender in the East might have been enough to get the deal done.