Is the Josh McRoberts Era Over Before it Began?

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We haven’t seen Josh McRoberts on the court since he tore his right meniscus on December 10. We haven’t even seen him on the sidelines, joining his fellow Miami Heat teammates on the bench. Now he will be traveling with the team for the first time this season for a road trip that starts with Oklahoma City on Sunday.

By the way, it’s March. McRoberts has been more a jersey-ripping figment of Heat fans’ imagination than a real thing. A name scratched out on a depth chart. One time an exciting piece and now an afterthought since the acquisitions of Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic.

While McRoberts can still, technically, re-join the team, it doesn’t seem likely. However,  Zach Harper of CBS Sports, who was filling in for the Cup & Crowder Show on WQAM Friday afternoon, is doubtful McRoberts will ever rejoin the Heat.

Via CBS Miami:

"“I don’t think there’s any chance,” Harper said. “I actually would be a little shocked if he returned next season because I think they’ll try to move him. With Whiteside in tow and Bosh back healthy, I don’t think he’s extraneous but I think you can move him and try to get something for him.”"

On if McRoberts will play again this season…

"“He’d be fantastic,” Harper said if McRoberts were to be able to suit up again this year. “He really does fit into the system it’s just now for the cost, do you need that depth necessarily? I guess if you’re worried about Bosh long-term, then, yeah, you need that depth but in terms of fitting the system he can shoot, he can pass, he can defend, he’s really good."

More on why the Heat would trade him…

"“… just to kind of reappropriate where you’re spending your money. Maybe you need more wing depth, whatever you feel like you have to move.”"

McRoberts signed a four-year, $22.7 million deal this past offseason. The Heat acquired a disabled player exception following his injury worth $2.65 million, but that expired on March 10.

McRoberts would be a fantastic asset off the bench next season. His passing ability and shooting touch would bring a different dynamic, and could play alongside either Whiteside, Chris Andersen or Chris Bosh (who would be moved to center in a small-ball lineup. I’m particularly excited about this possibility).

However, Harper is right that he is expendable, especially considering the lack of depth on the wing. McRoberts’ $5.5 million contract next season is extremely tradeable.

Not to mention, Pat Riley may still have his eyes set on the summer of 2016 (whether it be re-signing Whiteside or adding another star) and may see an opportunity to unload the long-term contract of a guy who was once thought of, but is no longer as a key building block. So the question isn’t if McRoberts will join the team this season, but if he ever will.

Next: Dwyane Wade's Resurgence Leads Heat Playoff Push