In late offseason free agent signings, the Heat added guard Larry Drew II, a rookie who spent his college days at North Carolina and UCLA, and guard Roger Mason Jr., a journeyman pro who spent last season in New Orleans. The Heat also had signed center Justin Hamilton and forward Eric Griffin.
By far the more interesting additions, however, were the signings of center Greg Oden, the former No. 1 draft pick out of Ohio State who has been hampered by injuries and hasn't played since 2009, and Michael Beasley.
Beasley, who began his professional career with the Heat as a No. 2 pick in the 2008 draft, has had off-the-court problems and his contract is not guaranteed. He is going to have to play his way onto the roster, which must be down to 13-15 players when the regular season starts.
Oden’s contract is fully guaranteed and will be treated with care through the camp.
Here are five questions for the Heat, in reverse order:
5. Who is going to pick up the slack left by the decision to waive Michael Miller under the NBA's amnesty clause? Miller has played a key role in both of the last two NBA Finals series, even though he wasn't to figure prominently in the rotation when the playoffs began. When Shane Battier and Ray Allen both struggled with their 3-point shooting in the early rounds, Miller came to the rescue. A fan favorite, he will be missed.
4. Will Dwyane Wade’s health hold up? It wasn’t any secret that Wade was struggling at times in the playoffs, and he missed time in the regular season as well. He managed to get it all together against San Antonio in the Finals, but it would appear the issues with his knees could linger the rest of his career. He has dropped some weight, which could take some of the strain off, but he will be 32 years old next Jan. 17.
3. Will the uncertainty regarding LeBron James’ future become a distraction? James doesn’t want to talk about any decision he may have to make after the end of the 2013-14 season. Wade and Chris Bosh, who form the Heat’s Big Three, also have the right to become free agents next July 1. Talk is going to be hard to ignore, especially if the Heat are struggling in the playoffs.
2. Where are Oden and Beasley going to fit in? With his knee problems, Oden is a long-term project but that’s not an issue now. If he is ready to take on the Indiana Pacers’ inside muscle in the playoffs, his signing will be seen as a great move. With Beasley, it’s a matter of whether he can accept a role as a, well, role player. What that role will be is an issue coach Erik Spoelstra will be dealing with in camp.
1. Can the Heat Three-Peat? That, of course, is the No. 1 goal for the Heat, especially after James promised “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships but up to eight when he announced his decision to join Wade and Bosh in Miami back in the summer of 2010.
Steve Kerr, the former Chicago Bull turned TV analyst for TNT’s NBA telecasts, thinks the Chicago Bulls will unseat the Heat in the East.
But Magic Johnson, who helped the Lakers to five NBA titles, sees it as a possibility, citing the offseason moves Heat President Pat Riley made as the reason why.
His recent tweet: “Now Pat Riley is one of the greatest NBA execs ever, he’s proven that adding Oden and Beasley to the Heat roster. The Heat could Three-Peat!”
The fun begins when the Heat host the Chicago Bulls Oct. 29 in AmericanAirlines Arena.