Thursday, July 29, 2010

More Kenny Hasbrouck, Less Eddie House? Why Miami Is Too Old

With the signing of Eddie House, Miami has completed most of its roster moves for the 2009-2010 season. After signing Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and Lebron James, the Heat had to figure out who else to sign with the limited money remaining. With the goal of championships in mind, the Heat went out and signed veteran contributors Mike Miller, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eddie House, Juwan Howard, and Eddie House. They've been praised for picking up so many shrewd veterans. However, was this truly the best plan to win championships?

The legacy of signing veteran stars to would-be championship contenders is not particularly noteworthy. One can certainly point to the 2006 Miami Heat as a team that was victorious by signing veteran players around a bright young star. However, that team quickly tanked in the next two years, and had to be completely rebuilt. Similarly, the 2004 Los Angeles Lakers had to rebuild the point guard and power forward position after the departures of Karl Malone, Gary Payton, and Horace Grant. And ceremonial stars like Mitch Richmond and Glenn Robinson did nothing for their squads except generate frequent "He's still playing?" comments. Plus, older players may get worn down more easily deep in the season and let the team down. Look at how Rasheed Wallace struggled through Game 7 this year. I argue that Miami's signing plan was directly contradictory to their goal of winning multiple championships.

So what else could Miami have done besides signing these veteran players? If Miami was truly interested in contending for multiple championships, here's an interesting proposal. Why not follow more closely the path of the 2008 Celtics? They had Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Glen Davis on the roster when the Big Three signed. All three markedly improved over time; one might argue that the players would have improved regardless, but I doubt it. I believe that stars help younger players to develop. Miami could sign young players to cheap, long-term contracts, and develop them into complementary players to the Big Three. Players like Kenny Hasbrouck, should they pan out, also provide attractive trade pieces because they will be overrated due to playing with stars who mask their deficiencies.

Miami's organizational structure is also excellent for player development, due to a holistic system that even monitors the players' weight. Sure, some of the young players will not improve, but they can be easily jettisoned and replaced, or shuttled to the Development League as needed. And although you hear plenty of talk about how Miami has a recruiting advantage, let me ask you this. Since expansion in the late 80's/early 90's, what successful NBA team has been able to consistently lure high-quality veterans to its organization for less pay? The lessons from the recruitment of McGrady, Iverson, and Shaq this off-season should also show that veteran players can be much harder to deal with than young players.

I understand that after the draft, there are not that many talented rookie free agents out there. I'm not necessarily fond of signing complete rookies either; I would wish to sign players with a few years of professional experience. But the Heat could also sign some Developmental League players with experience, or sign younger European players instead. Players like Charlie Bell, Anthony Parker, Josh Childress, and others passed on some NBA opportunities because the pay was better in Europe. The Celtics' 2007 signing of Eddie House, who had only played for 7 seasons (compared to Mike Miller's 10) to play guard is another example. The ability to play for a top NBA team in a starting position and gain such exposure should be enough of a draw to bring a younger but experienced player back to the States.

It just surprises me that with so many stars in their prime, Miami is taking a "win-now" approach rather than taking a more long-term view. I definitely think this combination can win a championship. I just don't see it being easy to reload and replenish this squad in two years to create a true championship run. While young players in South Beach carry their own risk, the veterans of 2007 and 2008 didn't necessarily seem the most disciplined or energetic, either. In a league where quick, young guards become more important each year, the signings of two guards over 30 (Miller and House, although Miller can also play the 3) are particularly odd, and I believe these choices will come back to hurt the Heat. Thoughts?


  1. Hadn't seen you around in a while, good to see you're still working.

  2. As for the piece, House is a shooter's shooter. Dude is not afraid to take any shot, and given the open looks he will get in Miami, he's going to be a problem late in games.
    Miller is underated as an athlete, and he has a solid all around game. Miami is in "win now" mode, not team building mode. They can still put Chalmers in to play quick points, while Wade and Lebron can shut down opposing swingmen.
    They have a very good mixture of youth and age, from what I can tell.

  3. most of the old players you name are 1-2 year contracts..the nucleaus will stay the same..the role/old players will change

  4. "They had Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, and Glen Davis on the roster when the Big Three signed. All three markedly improved over time; one might argue that the players would have improved regardless, but I doubt it. I believe that stars help younger players to develop. Miami could sign young players to cheap, long-term contracts, and develop them into complementary players to the Big Three. Players like Kenny Hasbrouck, should they pan out, also provide attractive trade pieces because they will be overrated due to playing with stars who mask their deficiencies."

    This particular logic seems half-complete to me. If Boston's Big 3 masked the deficincies of the younger players, and the Big 3 is still together, then how do we know that the deficincies aren't just continuing to be masked?

    It's not like Boston has had young players that have left for other teams and performed well. I think it's awfully premature to say that the Big 3 have turned other players into stars when those other players haven't yet left the orbit of the Big 3.

  5. Miami is hoping to have several pieces like that. They just may first get some seasoning overseas first.

    Dexter Pittman will make the Heat roster. If he can gets in shape can be just like Kendrick Perkins defensively. And he actually may have more touch and skill offensively.

    Pat Beverly looks to have Rondo-like defensive ability. Just needs to work on his offensive skills. That is likely to be done overseas next year.

    Jarvis Vanardo has great ability to block shots and crash offensive glass. However he just does not have the muscle to compete in NBA right now. Needs a year to get stronger and maybe add a top-of-key- jumper to his game.

    Da'Sean Butler had 1st round ability before hurting his knee. If he can make a full recovery could be a great wing player off the bench.

    Kenny Hasbrouck has decent chance to make this team and has some ability as combo guard.

    What the Heat is doing this year is trying to get most of their youth to play overseas for a year and then decide who has the most NBA potential. So youth is not completely abandoned.

    What you forget with Boston's Big 3 versus Miami, is that in Boston they all got together when each was already over 30. They needed some youthful legs around to complement them. In Miami, the oldest is Wade at 28. Haslem is the same and they have some youth with Chalmers.

    What Miami is doing is adding in some complementary talent and flexibility to change some of those pieces along the way. Iglauskas and House might be getting two guaranteed seasons. But Miami is no where near the luxury tax and have one of the richest owners in the league in billionaire Mickey Arison. So as they acquire better talent they can afford to eat the veteran contracts and then spend their salary exception in future seasons.

  6. I think it is a bit different from the Boston Celtics Big Three because Miami Big Three are relatively young. Chicago Bulls built their dynasty around Pippen, Jordan and Rodman for their second three peat. Pierce, Garnett and Allen got together in their 30s. It is more obvioous that they would probably one or two championship instead of building a dynasty. Miami Big Three are all in their prime and signing veterans who can play within the system and basketall-smart are more important than building young players. Nonetheless, there are some young players who will most likely benefit e.g. Chalmers, Hasbrouck etc. I think Miami Heat is going to be the team to beat. Their strategy is going to revolve around the big three and sign intelligent role players who are willing to contribute in other ways regardless they are veterans or young players.

  7. Signing Eddie House was a stupid move. I completely agree. Kenny Hasbrouck is a future star. He has persevered through hardship to still give himself a shot to make the team. I love this guy, and check out why at

  8. Hey Big Man, good to see you around. Always like reading your work. Just ran out of things to say, you know? Anyway, Pat Riley is almost always in win now mode, and good of you to remind me of that. It's a great characteristic, but it has cost Riles too. The 1989 Lakers apparently over-trained before the Finals, and the 2007-2010 Heat wasted 4 prime years from Dwyane Wade while recovering from 2006 championship year and reloading. And if Bosh and Bron don't go to Miami, they'd still be a mess. Hmm...we'll see.

    Anonymous 1, that's what I'm wondering. Can Miami just keep shuffling off old veterans for slightly younger, hungrier veterans each year? The Patriots did that for a while, but they seem to have run out of magical reclamation projects. I just don't think it works, but if anyone can pull it off, Miami with its stars and scene can. It's going to be fun to watch!

    Anonymous 2, maybe...I think a great test case will be Tony Allen in Memphis. If he becomes a decent player, then truly the Big Three make a difference.

  9. RIP, your comment made me think the most, and thanks for the work you put into that. I may not be giving Miami enough credit for a long-term plan. Perhaps indeed Riley is prepping young talent while filling in with old for a year. But also...Miami, despite their excellent system, has not done a good job of developing talent in Riley's time there. He's very much a win-now coach who rides veterans until they fall apart.

  10. RIP and Anon3, about Miami's Big Three, though; my impression is that James has wanted to run more offensively for a while now. At least that was what I heard when he was in Cleveland. How are they going to get out on the break, though, with Z, Juwan, and Mike? You have good points about surrounding young legs with old legs. But I remember how badly, for example, Shaq in Phoenix worked out, even though I thought Phoenix could just continue to run and let Shaq catch up if they didn't immediately score. Just curious if you think it's feasible for them to still run with so many older players.

  11. Anon4, for Kenny being so relatively unknown, there's a lot of decent buzz about him. I'm intrigued, and think he may be more useful than the typical undrafted free agent.

  12. You are insane if you think that Mario Chalmers or Kenny Hasbrouk is any where Rajon Rando.

    Are you serious? Do you realize that Rondo's been carrying the Celtics and their Big 3 for the last two years, considering they've all been hurt for most of the year or the past season.

    What skill does Hasbrouk or Chalmers have that even remotely compares to any that Rondo has? You guys really think Rondo performs the way he does cause of the Big 3? Really?

    When Chalmers gets the length, blistering speed/quickness, vision, descision making, rebounding, leaping, steals, etc. ability of Rondo, then you can tell me about Hasbrouk and Chalmers.

  13. great points u guys are makin but let not forget the core of his team lb/dw/cb thats big with 5 years of youth before 2 of his 3 even are 31 they are poised to make a run even if the older guys keep changing out and yea after a year or two pat job gets easyier after he see how the core play together. if the goal is to win a championship each year pat has 6 shots that all a owner/fans/city can ask for dis will not be a 2006 repeat of the heat fallin after grace pat proves he gets better (YES WE DID) enough said.

  14. MC -

    A little late to the party here, but I am thinking Miami may not have had the same leeway to sign some younger players that someone like Boston did.

    They had built, like so many others, for this summer, and let most every contract expire. The younger players of semi-talent (not All-Stars, but the appreciable mid-level, provide some periodic spark guys) were hoping to lock into something with the looming labor threat.

    That likely limited their options.