Sunday, July 19, 2009

Riley Drawing on an Old Formula

The trade winds are blowing. Rumors are swirling. Pat Riley's hair is unflappable. It's about that time that a team which has flown under the radar makes an offseason splash. That team this year? Pat Riley's Miami Heat.

So far, no splash. But it seems as if something is afoot in Miami. When Heat fans in Miami got a hold of the news Friday that Lamar Odom may be returning to the Heat, a wave of excitement rolled through South Beach.

In his one season in Miami, Odom averaged 17.1 points, the second highest total of his career. Then a rookie and budding star, Dwyane Wade considered the then four year veteran Odom one of his finest teachers. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Wade's comments painted him as jubilant at the prospect of reuniting with his former teammate. Wade wasn't shy about publically expressing his feelings, proclaiming that "we want him back home."

Come late October/early November, Odom will begin his 11th season in the NBA. He will also be turning 30 a few days into the season. As for the uniform he will be wearing, that's yet to be seen.

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Sources report that Miami has offered Odom a 5 year deal worth $34 million. But it seems as though Odom's contract negotiations with the Lakers are not quite finished. Lakers owner Jerry Buss reportedly withdrew a $27 million, three year deal when he grew upset that Odom had not given a clear indication of his intentions. ESPN is reporting that sources around the league believe that the Odom/Buss talks are not yet dead. The consensus around the league seems to favor Odom and Buss reaching some sort of amiable agreement.

Nothing is final yet, however. Avoiding the math, let's just say that Odom will have to weigh all of his options and take into account the state tax laws of California and Florida before he turns his back on a deal from the Heat.

Another Boozer on South Beach?

Adding another boozer to the South Beach scene may seem redundant, but Heat fans are aflutter nonetheless. Carlos Boozer has been rumored to be heading to all of the other 29 teams in the NBA this offseason, except for Utah of course. This is not the first time that rumors of Miami's interest in the power forward have surfaced. Speaking to a group of season ticket holders, Riley indicated that Miami is monitoring Boozer's availability and could make a run at trading for the big man.

Boozer will turn 28 shortly after the season starts in November. Not exactly an old geezer, but brining him to Miami wouldn't exactly be a youth movement. Rumors have Udonis Haslem and Dorell Wright heading to Utah in exchange for Boozer.

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Again, this deal is not set in stone either, so everything at this point is completely speculation. But, if Riley succeeds in swaying Odom away from the Lakers and Boozer is brought to Miami via trade, the Heat's lineup on opening night may look something like this:

C: Jermaine O'Neil, 31 years old
PF: Boozer, 28
SF: Odom, 30
SG: Wade, 27
PG: Mario Chalmers, 23

The big question here would be: What becomes of Michael Beasley? The Heat did spend the 2nd overall pick in last year's draft on him and he began to show progress deeper into the season. Some think he would be traded for a veteran point guard.

If anything is clear from Pat Riley's comments throughout the offseason, however, it's that he's high on Beasley and Chalmers, his rookies from a year ago. Slating Beasley as the starting small forward and relegating Odom to 6th man duties may work, although it's tough to see Odom coming to Miami to start games on the bench even if he eventually bought into and flourished in that role in Los Angeles.

The whole add-veterans-when-things-seemed-to-be-moving-along-just-fine-the-previous-season scenario is familiar to Heat fans. After the Heat's 2005 season ended in a Game 7 loss to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, rather than make another run at a title with the same team, Riley put the team through a total makeover. Damon Jones, Eddie Jones, Keyon Dooling and Rasual Butler, were out. Antoine Walker, James Posey, Gary Payton, Jason Kapono, Derek Anderson and Jason Williams were in. Other than Kapono, who was entering his third season, Riley's new team was all veteran. And it worked. The Heat won the championship that year with Wade and Shaq leading the way with a supporting cast ripe with been there, but haven't done that's.

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We all know that Wade wants to see the Heat make some improvements to the roster before he signs an extension, so I won't mention that other than to say that adding Odom and Boozer would seem to be a step in the right direction if Riley is trying to appease his superstar.

Now, as Riley looks to add two proven veterans (and maybe a third in Allen Iverson…eh) to his roster and possibly lose Haslem, the Heat's co-captain with Wade and an unsung part of the Heat's roster for the past six seasons, Heat fans mustn't question the 'do. Riley knows best. His seven rings will attest to that.

Written By Danny Hobrock
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