Roster Reload: Miami Heat

Can the formation of the "Big Four" bring a title back to Miami in 2014-15?

Updated: June 15, 2014, 11:55 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle and Amin Elhassan | ESPN Insider

Pat RileyWin McNamee/Getty ImagesThis will be an offseason of intrigue for Pat Riley and the Miami Heat.

Roster Reloads: Charlotte Bobcats | Chicago Bulls | Houston Rockets | Atlanta Hawks | Memphis Grizzlies | Golden State Warriors
Toronto Raptors | Portland Trail Blazers | Brooklyn Nets | Washington Wizards | Indiana Pacers | Oklahoma City Thunder

This isn't quite the conversation we expected to be having at this time.

That the two-time champion Miami Heat were beaten by the San Antonio Spurs is no great shock. There were many rational people among us who saw the matchup as too close to call. However, the resounding fashion by which the Spurs dissected and dispatched LeBron James & Co. was shocking. It also calls into question Miami's offseason strategy. Before, it seemed like Pat Riley was primarily tasked with keeping the Big Three together, while again trying to improve the roster at the margins. However, with the Heat no longer the clear-cut best team in the league -- and a cap situation that is entirely flexible -- there is no telling what direction Riley might take.

Already, rumors of a blockbuster signing of Carmelo Anthony have made the rounds, and that was before the Heat had been throttled by San Antonio. It's going to be an interesting summer across the league, but what happens in South Beach will likely set the tone for everybody else.

2014-15 baseline (if all current players returned): 59.0 wins
(from Bradford Doolittle's ATH system)


I. Main assets

Elhassan: It seemed like the Miami Heat would dominate the NBA for the next decade when they were assembled in 2010, but we're barely four years later and it's hard not to argue that they are trending downward.

[+] EnlargeChris Bosh
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe era of dominance for the Big Three appears to be coming to an end.

While LeBron James is still the best player in basketball, the drop in his athletic explosion was more pronounced this season, and while he'll still be a dominant player for years to come due to his unique combination of size, skill and IQ, it's hard to ask him to go back to a Cleveland-era level of production in which he has to carry a roster of "others." Chris Bosh remains one of the most underrated and underappreciated players in basketball, a highly effective and intelligent defender with a still-evolving offensive skill set. Dwyane Wade is officially firmly in "past his prime" territory; he can be relied upon to be the Wade of Old every so often, but most nights he just looks like Old Wade.

Beyond the Big Three, the roster is decrepit: Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole are both backup guards, Ray Allen has boiled down to strictly a spot-up shooter, Shane Battier has already lined up his post-playing career, Chris Andersen has become a flightless bird. But there's a bright side: The Heat are still one of the best-run franchises in sports, with excellent ownership that is on the same page as management and coaching, making them an attractive destination for players beyond their South Beach zip code.