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Miami Heat

Picking 33rd is the Miami Heat and GM for life Rob Clough. In the real draft the Heat pick 49th.  Miami's first round pick was traded to Cleveland as part of the Brian Grant/Shawn Kemp trade.  Rob selects:

Kirk Haston, PF, 6'10" Indiana

Team History

With a flurry of remarkable offseason moves, the Heat were at last poised to win the East and challenge for the NBA title. In exchange for Jamal Mashburn and PJ Brown, the Heat got talented guard Eddie Jones, a big-time scorer who could play Pat Riley-style defense. They turned Chris Gatling and Clarence Weatherspoon into rebounder supreme Brian Grant. And throw-in Anthony Mason from the Charlotte trade would turn out to be an All-Star. But this being the Heat, something had to go wrong, and in this instance it was Alonzo Mourning's kidney ailment. It was especially tragic because he had just come off a brilliant performance in the Olympics and looked ready to dominate the league.

But lo and behold, the Heat somehow turned into a fine basketball team, finishing second to the excellent Sixers in the Atlantic. While it was the first time in years the Heat hadn't won the Atlantic title, their regular season performance surpassed all expectations as Riley once again did a great job making the most of what he had. Eddie Jones and Brian Grant both proved to be perfect fits at both ends of the court. Jones played Riley- style defense and could both slash and hit the occasional three. Grant had the work ethic of departed PJ Brown and a much better offensive game. He wasn't thrilled about playing center, but did a good job nonetheless. These two weren't big surprises, however--that's why they were brought in. The big surprise was Mason, who carried a rep as both a troublemaker and a hard worker, and who got his start under Riley with the Knicks. But as a "point power forward", he was brilliant, leading the team in rebounds. He also was third in assists and second in scoring, and only missed 2 games. And with defensive ace and spot-up shooter Bruce Bowen having a solid year, Anthony Carter competently backing up Tim Hardaway, AC Green providing experience in the frontcourt and Dan Majerle in the backcourt, the Heat had a nice little team heading down the stretch.

Then Alonzo Mourning came back. All year long, we had been told that Zo wouldn't be back until next year, but when he started working out with the team and practicing, it was clear that Riley was rushing him back for the playoffs. In retrospect, this proved to be a disastrous move. It wasn't Mourning's fault--he played reasonably well, even if he had lost a bit of his quickness and scoring punch. That was to be expected, but he still was able to contribute. The problem was team chemistry and the way roles were changed so abruptly. In particular, the big problem was Mason, whose interest in the game seemed to plummet late in the year.

We all know the playoff results--a humiliating sweep by the Charlotte Hornets. Baron Davis effortlessly drove by a hobbled Tim Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn simply had his way with the Heat on defense. Simply put, the Heat gave up very quickly in this series. While not quite as painful as the annual choke against the Knicks, this was certainly more embarrassing. One thing is for certain--the way the players gave up on the Heat in the playoffs will almost guarantee the team being made over, with very few of the sort of generous contracts the team had been giving out to reward hard work.

Team Roster/Contract Status:

Player/# Years      Pos Signed  Notable Stats/Accomplishments
Alonzo Mourning/9   C   2003    13.6 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg (16 games total)
Duane Causwell/11   C   FA      2.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Anthony Mason/11    PF  FA      16.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 3.1 apg, All-Star 
Brian Grant/7       PF  2007    15.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg
Todd Fuller/5       PF  FA      2.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg
AC Green/16         PF  FA      4.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg
Don MacLean/9       PF  2002    3.9 ppg
Bruce Bowen/5       SF  FA      7.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Cedric Ceballos/11  SF  FA      6.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg
Dan Majerle/13      G/F FA      5.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.7 apg, 32% 3FG
Eddie Jones/7       SG  2007    17.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.8 spg, 38% 3FG
Eddie House/R       SG  2002    5.0 ppg
Ricky Davis         SG  2002    4.6 ppg
Tim Hardaway/12     PG  FA      14.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 6.3 apg, 37% 3FG
Anthony Carter/2    PG  FA      6.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.7 apg, 15% 3FG

Draft History: Riley has actually managed to find some use for a couple of his recent late picks. Anthony Carter did a solid job at back-up point, a necessity with Tim Hardaway's unpredictable health. Carter's awful performance in the playoffs removed any illusions the Heat might have had about him being a future starter, however. This year, the Heat got some surprisingly good play from Eddie House, the high-scorer from Arizona State. He proved to be the favorite player of Pat Riley's daughter, as she took to wearing "Free Eddie House" t-shirts in an effort to get her father to give him more playing time. That materialized late in the year when Eddie Jones got hurt, and again when Tim Hardaway got injured (again) in the playoffs. He did a good job at both running some point and scoring, playing with a fearless attitude. The Heat could again pick up a decent player in the second round because of the draft's overall depth.

Player Overview


Overall: Things are a bit unsettled here, because no one knows exactly how effective Mourning will be when he plays full-time next year. If he's close to his old self, then the Heat will be fine. If not...

If he can overcome his kidney ailment and get back into proper shape, Mourning is clearly one of the best players in the league. He's always a threat for defensive player of the year and on the short list for MVP. He's overcome the temper tantrums and mental mistakes that haunted him earlier in his career. His status affects everything for this team. If he's healthy, good free agents will want to go to the Heat because they'll know that they've got a good chance at winning the title. A very solid big man will accept being his backup because of his ability. But if he's a shell of himself, that could cripple the entire franchise. The other issue is how long he'll continue to play. He'll be 32 next year, theoretically at his peak for a big man. The window on how long he'll be one of the top players in the game is starting to close, and with his condition, may well slam shut sooner rather than later.

Duane Causwell was once again just a practice player, albeit a big one. He actually got a lot of playing time early in the year due to Mourning's absence, but his uninspiring play soon relegated him back to his customary spot on the bench. I doubt that he'll be back.


Overall: This proved to be the Heat's deepest position, with a number of the PF's moving over to center. Brian Grant, a natural PF, played most of his minutes at the 5 spot. AC Green also saw a bit of time at center as well. Mason made it to the all-star game at the 4--a bit undersized, but his tremendous strength and agility made him tough to stop.

Grant is a no-nonsense player who loves to get offensive rebounds (2.1 a game), get fouled (354 attempts) and do the dirty work. He can drill the occasional jumper but he's better at attacking the basket down low. At times, I actually thought he was the team's best player and deserved some all-star consideration. It should be noted that he didn't miss a single game.

Mason had the best year of his career and did it with a lot of hard work. With his mobility, strength and understanding of the game, he made for a very effective and versatile forward. He perhaps was a bit overconfident with regard to his ballhandling (179 turnovers), but made up for it with 3 assists a game. He brought his legendary attitude to bear in a positive manner, bringing the sort of toughness to the team that Mourning had provided throughout his career. His main problem was one common to the team: he's not any kind of reliable outside shooter, which put a lot of pressure on the backcourt. His penchant for troublemaking didn't surface until Mourning came back, and this will be the main reason why Mason will likely not return to Miami next year.

Green did not exactly put up big numbers, but he came in and gladly played a role. He was especially effective on the offensive boards. He also didn't miss a single game (continuing his long streak) and provided some important depth. Like many of the Heat's veteran players, I don't see him returning next year unless he's willing to take a pay cut.

Todd Fuller and Don MacLean spent most of the season either on the bench or on IR. MacLean actually started one game and probably would have played more if it wasn't for his injuries. Fuller won't be back next year.


Overall: This is an area of significant need for the Heat. Riley gave Cedric Ceballos a shot at it for a while but benched him after realizing what every NBA coach knows: he doesn't play defense. Bowen hustles but doesn't have starter-level talent, and the slow deterioration of Majerle's offensive skills has made him more of a liability.

Bowen is a scrappy, hustling role player who comes up with big defensive plays and hits a decent number of threes. In fact, he was second only to Hardaway in threes made & attempted. But he's not much of a threat off the dribble and lacks explosiveness. He's a great sixth man but when forced to start (as he did for most of the year), it hurts the team. The Heat really want him to come back and he's one of the few players that might get a big raise.

Majerle missed 30 games with an injury and just didn't produce the way he has in past years. Riley loves his guts and savvy along with his defense, but I don't think he'll be back unless he takes a big pay cut. The most noticeable flaw was his 31% shooting from three--and 75% of his field goal attempts came from three.


Overall: The Heat are in good shape here. Eddie Jones is not known as a shooter, but he hit a decent 38% from three and was adept at slashing and getting to the foul line. Eddie House has a solid future in front of him. Even Ricky Davis, injured for most of the season, has an admirer in Riley.

The Heat really wanted Eddie Jones, and while they may have given up too much for him (Mashburn & PJ Brown, with Davis & Mason in return as well), they got their money's worth. Jones was born to play for Riley. His toughness and ability to shut down other guards one-on-one are qualities the Heat have needed for quite some time at the position. Jones is another that I felt deserved some all-star consideration.

House stepped up when first Jones and then Hardaway went out with injuries. He can really score and isn't afraid of anyone on the court. While he didn't lead the Heat to wins in the playoffs, he still played well enough to be a big part of their future plans.


Overall: Another position of instability for the Heat. Hardaway can still put up some numbers, but his late-season injuries and problems on defense cost the Heat dearly in the playoffs. Carter can run the team well but his anemic shot makes him an offensive liability. Expect to see big changes here in the offseason if the Heat can swing it.

For a while, Hardaway looked like he was going to last a full season without serious injuries, but it just didn't happen. While his 36% shooting from three wasn't bad, his overall 39% mark showed that he had trouble finishing. He also had trouble getting to the foul line. For a player whose stock in trade in the past was his ability to post up other guards, this was a very disturbing trend. His assist numbers were also a bit down this year, though they were still quite respectable. Tim could certainly return next year and even start, but Riley wants someone younger and more reliable. At this point in his career, it's to tough to predict what he could get in a sign-and-trade. Most likely, he'll be offered a chance to back up whichever point guard the Heat bring in. Hardaway has said that he wants to come back and he'd be willing to back up a great player. (In other words, Gary Payton but not Mike Bibby.)

Carter was his usual solid self in relief of Hardaway, maintaining over a 2:1 assist:turnover ratio. His three point shooting was just plain awful and his foul shooting (63%) was terrible for a guard. But he's around to play defense and run the team, so that's fine. The Heat want him to return for the right price.


Maximum Leader Riley had a pretty good year as a coach. He went to younger players Carter and House more than he might have in years past and it paid off in some big games. He got the most out of Bowen he could and co-existed peacefully with Mason. He didn't tank on his team when they lost Mourning and led them to a great record. His big mistake came in the way he disrupted chemistry with the reintroduction of Mourning. While it was a risk he had to take, he could have handled it a bit better. What is flabbergasting was the way his team played against Charlotte. They completely gave up on him. I don't know if he can no longer reach his players, but I do think this means that we won't see him coaching this team much longer. As he half-joked after the team got swept, "If I were GM, I'd fire me."

Riley the GM now has the added burden of dealing with the new luxury tax and an owner who doesn't want to exceed it--especially since their big payroll last year got them diddley-squat. He blew up his old team last year, getting some true star talent at the expense of his bench. But Mourning's situation will provide him his greatest challenge. He long ago made Zo the cornerstone of the team, and if he can no longer play at an all-star level (or at all), Riley will truly be screwed and the Heat will have no shot at the NBA title for the foreseeable future. After it looked like he had finally assembled a roster that would last for years, the Heat are now beset with more uncertainty than ever.

Draft Needs:

At the Heat's draft position, you can't really pick for position, so I'll take best player available, though it'd be nice to get a high-scoring wing. The Heat also need back-ups everywhere except point guard.

My Selection

Kirk Haston, C Indiana

A likely first round pick, he showed in Chicago that he can score and rebound. He would definitely make it easy to get rid of Anthony Mason, but he almost certainly won't be available at this spot. Haston came out a year early though he was actually a redshirt junior. He stepped up for a young team and proved that he could score both inside and out. While not a great athlete, he does have the size and strength to play in the NBA. He'd be quite a steal for the Heat at this spot.

Others Considered

Antonis Fotsis, SF Greece. One of the more highly regarded foreign players in the draft. He's a Kukoc-type player and is quite skilled. His numbers aren't eye-popping, but he plays in one of the tougher European leagues. He's a player you may want to season a bit before you bring him over.

Tony Parker, PG Greece. Another likely first-round pick who is probably too young to help the Heat now, but could be a handy backup in a year or two--or possibly more.

Terence Morris, Maryland. A one-time lottery pick whose inability to dominate the last couple of years cost him a guaranteed contract. Still, he is highly skilled, a good (but not great) shooter, and an excellent defender & rebounder.

Maurice Evans, Texas. Very athletic and aggressive swingman. He'd improve the team's overall athleticism and add a guy who can slash, even if he's not a great shooter. He's also a fine defender.

What The Heat Should Do

Dump Hardaway. They're going to do this anyway, but Tim's constant injury problems have been one of the team's biggest banes.

Re-sign Carter. Hopefully he'll take a $1 mill/year salary and not ask for more. He's a solid player who knows the system.

Re-sign Bowen. An excellent role player who can hit the three and play great on-ball defense. He'll ask for a big raise but will hopefully take something a bit less.

Go after Payton or Bibby. The Heat need a new, younger point guard who can do it all. Bibby might be more in the team's price range, though Payton would make the team very dangerous again, very quickly.

Avoid geriatric backup centers unless they come cheap. I'm not sure what Olajuwon or Ewing would provide for the team at this point. I'd rather have a solid young backup center who will be healthy for all 82 games and won't demand the ball as much.

Develop the bench. Go after either rising CBA talent or low-end free agents who look ready to improve, give them modest contracts and then develop them. Riley has proven that he can work with diamonds in the rough and it's time to do it again.

What The Heat Will Really Do

The Heat's current payroll is $73 million dollars. The new NBA luxury tax will take effect next year, and the Heat would like to reduce their payroll to about $56 mill. Considering that they already have $41 mill tied up in the few players they do have under contract, this will be difficult.

Word is that of the current free agents on the team, the only ones the team is actively seeking to re-sign are Bowen & Carter. Both signed bargain contracts next year and should get raises, though the Heat are naturally trying to talk them down from big money.

Mason is almost certainly gone. He had a great year but wants to start, and this won't happen with Brian Grant around. He didn't play well when Mourning came back and is the sort of player who plays best when the team works the ball through him on every play. He'll be shopped for bait in sign-and-trades.

Hardaway will only be back if it's as a backup point, and only if his replacement is a star. Tim can definitely still play, but his fragility makes him a risk as a starting point guard.

The aging Majerle will only be back if he takes a $3 million dollar paycut, which seems unlikely.

The Heat's big target is Gary Payton, who is ready to leave Seattle. It might be difficult to get him for a reasonable price. Another possibility for a sign-and-trade is Mike Bibby, a player who would fit in very well with the Heat. The biggest recent rumor is the Heat working on trying to get Stephon Marbury, which would require parting with Jones or Grant. While he has big-time ability, I've never been impressed with his defense or commitment to winning.

South Florida native Mitch Richmond is also a free agent and he might be willing to take a pay cut to play for a winning team. His skills have faded but he'd be a great backup to Eddie Jones. Jimmy Jackson is another possibility, and Monty Williams is also worth a long look. Interestingly, both Hakeem Olajuwon and Pat Ewing have been rumored to be interested in backing up Mourning at center. Both would be great backups but I think either would carry too high a price tag.

Note that both Chris Gatling and Clarence Weatherspoon are free agents again, and neither would be a bad pickup. The most amusing rumor I've heard is that the Heat are considering signing Sherman Douglas if Carter doesn't work out!

(Thanks to the Miami Herald for info on the Heat's potential plans.)