Now that the NBA’s first major free agent, Kyle Lowry, has committed to resigning with the Toronto Raptors for four years $48 million, who are the most sought after free agents for the Miami Heat?
As has been discussed, ad nauseam, Carmelo Anthony would be a terrific scorer and another big name for the NBA and owners to rake in some more cash but his defensive skills and effort are lacking. Miami has plenty of offense, not nearly enough defense, and for that reason there is not much of a chance of a Melo Miami connection. The Heat do not have to sign the marque free agent, they signed three, four years ago. The Heat will likely shift their focus to past season all-stars and cheap veterans. Two jump into mind: Pau Gasol and Luol Deng.
I wrote earlier how Miami has expressed interest in signing Pau Gasol. Gasol has been a dynamite big man for over a decade. Even as Gasol aged his productivity has not seen much of a drop. Last season Gasol averaged over seventeen points, nearly ten rebounds a game. Less than one point fewer and nearly one rebound more than his career averages. Now the Lowry is off the Heat’s radar, Gasol’s $10 million asking price is not out of the realm of possibilities. When you compare points, rebounds, assists etc. you’ll be hard pressed to find a better bang for your buck than Gasol.
The other name being thrown around the Heat organization is Luol Deng. The 29 year old is reportedly seeking a raise over the $14.7 million he earned last year, a sum I don’t believe he’s worth and the Heat could not afford. Deng may sign with the Heat for a short, reduced salary contract, if the market is not such a boon. Deng is renowned for his defensive tenacity but his statistics are less persuasive. Deng has career averages of sixteen points, just over six rebounds and two and a half assists a game, but most conventional statistics do not account for Luol’s defensive prowess. One measure often cited as a measure of defensive ability is plus minus.
For the 2013-2014 NBA season Deng had a total of +47, which ranks one hundred thirty-first. Gasol on the other hand had a total of -345, ranking four hundred sixty first out of a total of four hundred and eighty players. Plus minus is a bit tricky to make too many deductions from because it relies heavily on teammate production, but last year the difference between the Lakers and Cavaliers/ Bulls was not significant.
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