The Miami Heat have been the biggest losers in this offseason, in my humble opinion. After they were virtually vanquished by the Ben Gordon-led Chicago Bulls four games to love, they did pretty much nothing in the way of revamping their already troubled and old lineup. They severed ties with future Hall of Famer Gary Payton, but it seems like they replaced him with Anfernee Hardaway, who hasn’t played the last two seasons. Former Laker Smush Parker probably won’t be much of a difference maker either.
Had this been the Penny of 10 or so years ago then you would truly have something to work with there. And now there’s talk that along with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Heat are also front running the charge to sign Knick Allan Houston, who retired two seasons ago due to the same type of knee injury Penny had. Houston, now 34 years old, still feels that he has some game left in him. His shooting eye is probably still as lethal as it was, but can he still run up and down the court and cut from side to side and jump with aggression like he would need to?
And before I forget, would he and Penny be able to endure those infamous three-hour marathon practices?
That might be part of the problem also. Some players, as they get in the late 20s and early 30s (their peak years), are more reluctant to practice like that and have to play an 82-game schedule, not including eight pre-season games and all of the travel. Sure, most guys in the NBA want to win (well, at least they say they do) but the bottom line for each player is … well, their bottom line. Fact remains, each player is paid handsomely and they’d wish to do so for as long as they can. So with that, practicing often as if it’s the fourth quarter of the seventh game of the championship series can cause some early burnout.
The Heat will undoubtedly have a ton of questions to answer before and during the season. Not only the healing and mending of All-World, All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, but also the overall mental health of Antoine Walker and the Big Everything Shaquille O’Neal. Walker was robbed in his Chicago home at gun point earlier in the summer. That experience was so traumatic that Walker and his family moved from the house a week after the episode. The assailants have been caught and booked but there can still be a lingering effect on Walker’s psyche.
And this week it has been reported in various news outlets that Shaq and his wife Shaunie are on the verge of divorce. Will that have a negative impact on his mental and physical condition? Nets guard Jason Kidd used his marital troubles to spearhead himself to nearly an MVP season with his stellar play after his dirty laundry hit the streets. Can Shaq do the same and at the same time find a fountain a youth in the process?
The Heat better hope there’s something positive that is triggered out of this because as the other teams in the Eastern Conference have gotten either younger or better with free agent signings or significant trades, the Heat only have Smush to show for the summer.