Once again LeBron James spurns consistency to sign with the team with the best offers of legacy. The Cleveland Cavaliers is LeBron’s choice because of his emotional connection to northern Ohio and the burden of leaving his hometown championship-less. All of which, even as a Miami team fan, is totally acceptable. I hope my city does not overreact and throw a temper tantrum because, really, the best course of action is to move on.
Moving on for the Miami Heat most likely means rebuilding. While there is still a chance the Heat can put together one of the best rosters in the NBA, the most likely outcome is a total rebuild. Not dissimilar to how Cleveland has rebuilt. Pat Riley has made it clear before the Miami Heat organization prefers to gain talent through free agency. For Miami to return to greatness the Heat will have to effectively use both the NBA draft and free agency.
Luckily the Heat have nearly a clean slate to work with, minus a couple of future draft picks. Looking ahead to the next two free agent classes, which include names like Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Marc Gasol, Brandon Jennings and Bradley Beal.
The largest impediment to Miami’s rebuilding is the five draft picks which have been traded to facilitate the 2010 free agency coup. Miami’s 2015 first round draft pick has been traded to, ironically, the Cavaliers. The pick is protected for selections one through ten in 2015 and 2016, meaning if the Heat are bad enough in the next two seasons they would still have a first round pick. Miami’s second round pick in 2016, 2017 and two second round selections in 2019 have also been traded.
One strategy to rebuild might be to tank the 2015-2016 NBA season and try to sign marque free agents in next year’s free agency. The top prospects of the 2015 NBA draft are point guard Emmanuel Mudiay and center Jahlil Okafor.
Emmanuel is an incredible athlete and a tall point guard standing at 6’5”. Scouts compare Mudiay to a more talented and skilled Tyreke Evans. Jahlil is the cousin to NBA big man, Emeka Okafor and possesses a similar skillset. Tall, massive, skillful but lacking elite athleticism; scouts compare young Okafor to Al Jefferson.
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