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News » Heat still have holes to plug in free agency

Heat still have holes to plug in free agency

Heat still have holes to plug in free agency
MIAMI (AP) - The Miami Heat will start making their phone calls to free agents at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, and team president Pat Riley will have two simple messages to most of those on the other end of his line.

Don't expect a bankbreaking offer.

And don't wait too long to decide, either.

"The players that are smart, that are on the cusp, that get talked into holding out by their agents might be very disappointed at the end," Riley said. "A player's got to know his value and know where he stands."

That process begins in earnest Tuesday.

Coming off a season where the Heat were a luxury tax-paying team for the first time - and had a 15-67 record to go along with it, two years after winning an NBA championship - Miami is entering a rebuilding phase with an eye on the next two summers for making big free-agent splashes.

The Heat were clearly thrilled to draft Kansas State forward Michael Beasley last week and were delighted to obtain guard Mario Chalmers of Kansas in a second-round trade, but still have tons of holes to address on the roster.

"Right now, we have a roster to fill," Heat coach Erik Spolestra said. "So I see a bunch of open spots that we need to put people in there and players in there."

Yet for now, primarily because of salary cap restraints, Riley is looking at short-term solutions that won't handcuff spending years from now, a trend he says exists almost everywhere in the NBA this year - where teams will bide their time for what should be elite free-agent classes in 2009 and 2010.

And in Miami's case, 2010 will be pivotal, because that's the summer Dwyane Wade can opt out of his contract.

So the Heat will begin moving now in an effort to both turn their fortunes around and find a way to keep Wade happy.

"Everybody's looking at these free-agent markets down the road and they're trying to relieve some space," Riley said. "They're not going to give away their money this year from that standpoint, either. I think long-term contracts, right now, are going to be out the window and a lot of short money is going to have to be accepted by these guys. The whole thing's changing a little bit in the free-agent market."

Of course, the short-money thinking might be short-lived if Elton Brand - who once signed an offer sheet from the Heat - opts out of his deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Still, it almost seems certain that the only way Miami could likely make a major acquisition this summer is through a trade, with forward Shawn Marion - who is owed $17.8 million on the final year of his deal - being the biggest chip Riley can play.

So unless Riley swings a deal involving Marion, he'll likely choose from a list of point guards that include Keyon Dooling (who has told confidants he would like to return to Miami) and Eddie House (another former Heat backcourter) to contend for time opposite Wade this coming season. The Heat also have tendered an offer to Chris Quinn, making him a restricted free agent, and Jason Williams could re-sign with Miami as well.

"It is still early in the process so I am not sure of a lot of things yet," Quinn said Sunday. "I hope that I am back in Miami for sure."

Miami's other major need is center, and again, there aren't many options out there who likely be willing to settle for the short money Riley is talking about. DeSagana Diop (whom Dallas reportedly wants back) has been talked about as a Heat target, Kwame Brown is available and even Michael Doleac - another former Heat player - might be there for Riley's taking.

Riley acknowledges that he has a clear-cut player shopping list.

The names on it remain close to his vest right now.

"That's an in-house secret," Riley said. "We're not allowed to talk to their agents until July 1, but we have at least four names, wish-list type things, that we want."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: June 30, 2008


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