Miami's Proposed Path to the Elite, Starring Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer
Whatever way it shakes, such a set of moves would immediately vault Miami into contention for the contested Eastern crown.
Miami basically had two above-average players last season: Dwyane Wade, who remained a dark horse MVP candidate for LeBron deniers well into the spring, and Beasley, a precocious rookie who accepted his Erik Spoelstra-issued lumps and kept spirits high 'til the very end. Haslem is a good player -- a solid defensive rebounder, quality defender and sufficient shot-maker. But his offense is miscast in the Wade-dominated style currently employed by the Heat, and given Miami's insistence on going after every steal, his halfcourt defensive prowess is oft wasted.
Boozer, when healthy, is a great player. He's better than a solid rebounder: he's one of the best in the game. He's a terrific scorer, both potent and efficient. His post defense is questionable. But again, Miami relies on the quick hands of Wade and Mario Chalmers and perimeter pressure. They could use a shotblocker to help out, and they do have Jermaine O'Neal on the roster, but the benefits of Boozer's offense and rebounding would outweigh his deficiencies by far.
The Odom addition -- Woj reports Miami can offer $34 million over five years, which is $2 million less and one season more than what L.A. has offered, which makes no sense to me, but which I suppose theoretically makes some sense in that players do irrational things when their incumbent employer is perceived to be undervaluing their contribution to said team's success -- would likely bump Beasley to small forward, which is his most natural position in my estimation. As Chalmers is young and more of a shooter than a passer, Odom's point-forward skills would be a boon to the Miami offense. Though woefully inefficient early in his career, once surrounded by great talent (I think Wade and Boozer would apply as such) Odom has become much less wasteful of possessions, and his defense has certainly improved over time. He would be an upgrade over Haslem (while making less money) without question.
So Boozer serves as a huge upgrade at center, J.O. becomes one of the best back-up centers in the league, Odom serves as an upgrade at the four, and Beasley fills a glaring hole at the three. All that added to one of the top three players in the NBA. I could live with that. And I think said top-three player could live with that. I find it hard to believe that the East's fifth-best team last season wouldn't take those upgrades on a wild ride into the top-3 in the East. Orlando looks like the class of the conference (though the loss of Hedo Turkoglu is a rather large question mark), and Boston and Cleveland ain't going anywhere (especially given the Celtics' acquisition of Rasheed Wallace and Cleveland's possession of LeBron James). But Miami would be in that conversation if Pat Riley can pull this off. Wish him luck, for all our sakes.