The Godfather Strikes Again
Pat “The Godfather” Riley has done it again. This time, he’s lured the greatest 3-point shooter of all time away from his beloved team to take far less money to come play in South Beach. The story was first reported by none other than Miami Heat owner Micky Arison. Micky broke the news via twitter last night by tweeting: “Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news. Welcome to the family #20”. In three consecutive offseasons Pat Riley has managed to convince marquee player after marquee player to come to Miami and play for less money than they would earn elsewhere. He started in 2010 by nabbing the Big 3 and followed that up with adding Mike Miller in the same summer. Before last season, he landed Shane Battier. This time, he was able to steal Ray Allen away from Eastern Conference rival Boston Celtics. Simply put, Riley has an unprecedented way of making an offer a player cannot refuse. If he sets his sights on a guy, it’s only a matter of time.
So what does the addition of Ray Allen mean for the Heat? It means the Miami’s spacing on offense will be exponentially better. It also means that the Heat will improve in half court offensive sets. Allen is constantly moving without the basketball to get open. This past season, teams would dare the Heat to shoot the long ball and were more than willing to live with the result. Now, teams will not have that luxury as leaving Allen open to get clean looks will spell disaster for any defense. Allen will benefit greatly from the penetrating styles of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Both players penetrate to the basket with good vision and knowledge of where the spot up shooters are. With Allen on the roster the Heat are getting a consistent 3-point threat in addition to veteran leadership. Ray is also a champion so he knows exactly what it takes to win. The Heat also have a player now that can anchor the 2nd unit with scoring ability. Allen will have no trouble coming off the bench and scoring points with consistency.Miami should expect a solid 10 to 12 points per game from Ray, which is something they lacked last season. The Heat have not had a consistent scoring threat coming off the bench thus far in the Big 3 era. Now they finally have one.
The Heat have numerous options as to the lineups they can throw out there. Most intriguing to Heat fans is the “closing” lineup. Which group of guys will be the one to put games to bed? The addition of Ray Allen makes for a very interesting closing lineup. The Heat will likely go with Dwyane Wade at point guard, Ray Allen at shooting guard, Shane Battier at small forward, LeBron James at power forward, and Chris Bosh at center. Take a moment to let that sink in. That is nothing short of a complete nightmare for an opposing defense. How can a team possibly defend that? Which player would a defense prefer to take the last shot? Gladly, the Heat won’t have to worry about that. They can just take what the defense gives them. In a final shot scenario, Ray Allen also brings the “clutch gene” to the table. Allen has hit game-winner upon game-winner throughout his illustrious career and is in no way afraid of the big moment.
What does Ray Allen to the Heat mean for other players on the bench? James Jones will suffer heavily if he doesn’t retire. His already miniscule playing time will shrink even more. Jones is a likely casualty of the Heat bringing in Ray Allen. Another likely candidate is the other 6’8 swingman employed by the Heat. Mike Miller is in a difficult situation. At the moment, he is contemplating whether his body can withstand another grueling NBA season. If he feels it can, then he will return to the Heat. If not, retirement awaits. Retirement would be the best scenario for the Heat. Although Miller was a hero in Game 5 of the Finals and gave Miami everything he possibly could, it’s just not feasible for the Heat to continue paying his lucrative contract. Miller is set to make roughly $6 million dollars each of the next two seasons under his contract. If he retires, that gives Miami $12 million to play around with. Besides, now with Ray Allen and Shane Battier playing ahead of him in the rotation; does it really make sense to pay a guy $12 million dollars to be a backup of a backup? For purely basketball reasons, Miller would be an asset to the team. But from a business prospective, financially, his contract is a liability and it is highly unlikely that he restructures to takes less money. Another player whose minutes will suffer is sophomore Norris Cole. There are rumors that Norris will play a part in a sign-and-trade with the Houston Rockets for big man Marcus Camby. If Cole stays, his minutes will decrease to make room for Allen’s minutes. There’s a high probability that Cole will be a casualty due to the emergence of incumbent point guard Mario Chalmers and the fact that the Heat don’t necessarily have to use a traditional point guard. Miami is more than capable using LeBron James and/or Dwyane Wade at point.
Marcus Camby is the other free agent whom Riley has targeted. Rumors are swirling that a sign-and-trade between Miami and Houston is immanent. The likely pieces would be Joel Anthony ($3.75 million dollar contract), Norris Cole ($1.1 million dollar contract), and the first-round draft pick acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers. It is still unclear if Norris will be a part of that or not. My guess is that Houston will want him because they are in need of a point guard. If Miami is successful in bringing in Camby, they will finally have that protection at the rim they have been searching for. Joel is just too small. Camby fits the bill as a rebounder and shot-blocker. He would fit in perfectly with this team. There are reports that Camby is in on the fence about picking either New York or Miami. New York can offer him more money and it is a city he already loves. However, Miami can offer a starting role and has more intriguing pieces for a sign-and-trade with Houston.
Whatever the case, Pat Riley has demonstrated his brilliance and proved why he is regarded as one of the best presidents in all of professional sports. He has shown the rest of the league why they should fear him and fear any of their players hitting the open market.