DRAFT PICKS:Michael Beasley, F, 6-8, Kansas State -- The second overall pick is a superb talent, possibly the most talented player in the draft. He should make a big contribution.
Mario Chalmers, G, 6-1, Kansas -- Nice player acquired in draft-night trade with Minnesota. He should contend for minutes at backup point guard. Not likely to enter the season as the starter, but a solid addition.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: G Dwyane Wade will likely be the MVP as long as he's on the team. But this season you could make a case for G/F Ricky Davis, the only player to play all 82 games. Skeptics might say Davis, an unrestricted free agent at season's end, might have used his contract status as motivation to play all 82 games. Regardless, he rarely displayed a bad attitude despite playing alongside borderline NBA talent. His presence didn't affect the won-loss record greatly, but he showed up for work every day and played through back and groin injuries.
Runner-up for MVP might be trainer Ron Culp. With six of the Heat's top eight players going down to season-ending injuries, Culp stayed busy. By the way, Culp is retiring at season's end after 37 years in the NBA with Cleveland, Portland and Miami. He's the only three-time NBA trainer of the year and the blazer he wore at Wednesday's season finale will be sent to the Hall of Fame.
MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER: C Shaquille O'Neal. Easy choice. He was injured during training camp. Then he returned and griped about not getting the ball enough. Then he almost got into a skirmish with coach Pat Riley in November, demanded a trade, got the trade, and trashed coach Pat Riley, the Heat training staff and former teammates Ricky Davis and Chris Quinn.
BIGGEST NEEDS: Miami has to get a point guard and a center. And more specifically at center, Miami needs someone who can rebound and defend the rim. Most likely the Heat has to go the free agent route at both positions. But there are trade possibilities with Shawn Marion, who is in the final year of his $17.8 million contract.
FREE AGENT FOCUS: Miami still seeks a starting point guard and starting center. But everything could depend on what the Heat does with F Shawn Marion. He's attractive trade bait to acquire a pair of quality players. But he's also a uniquely talented player who could help Miami tremendously. The problem is there's not much of a future for Marion in Miami because of his desire for a contract extension.
"We made him what we felt was a very good offer," Heat president Pat Riley said, "and we never got an offer back."
Depth seems to be OK for now, although a seasoned veteran or two could be needed. It appears F Dorell Wright and G Chris Quinn will return to provide depth at small forward and point guard. G Marcus Banks also provides depth at point guard, as does rookie G Mario Chalmers.
Miami has to decide if it wants to offer swingman Ricky Davis a contract. He'd add excellent depth, too. G Daequan Cook offers depth at shooting guard, although Davis is the better choice the way the roster stands now.
If Miami finds a starting center it has veteran Mark Blount as a backup, which is good. And if the roster stays in its current form, either Michael Beasley or Udonis Haslem could come off the bench, providing even more depth.
And C Alonzo Mourning is still trying to rehabilitate his serious knee injury.
--F Dorell Wright, potentially a restricted free agent, was extended a contract tender. It's expected the 6-foot-9, fourth-year player will return to Miami, providing depth at small forward and offering perimeter defense and rebounding.
--G Chris Quinn, also a potential free agent, was extended a contract tender. It's expected the 6-foot-2 point guard will return to the Heat, providing depth at a crowded position that includes veteran Marcus Banks and rookie Mario Chalmers.
--G Dwyane Wade was officially named to the Olympic team. Wade, who has missed 31 games each of the last two seasons, was slowed last season by left shoulder and left knee injuries. He spent much of the summer rehabbing in Chicago and thinks Olympic injury concerns are overblown.
"Look at my season after I came back from the Olympics in 2004," he said. "I had my best season. It's a myth playing basketball over the summer is going to wear you down and hurt you."
He added playing Olympic competition is the best way to prepare for the Heat season.
"There's only so much drill work I can do in the summer," he said. "Coming off the Olympics is going to get me that much more prepared."