Raja Bell announces preference for the Heat

The Heat has received its first bit of good news this offseason.

Raja Bell said yesterday that he would welcome the opportunity to play for the Heat next season.

“I’ll tell you like this, Pat. If you can use my services give me a call, I’m right around the corner, 36th and Biscayne. Give me a call.”

Heat president Pat Riley should do just that.

The Heat will be required to fill its roster with several minimum contract players in the offseason, and Bell would be an ideal fit as a perimeter defender and knock-down three-point shooter.

Bell’s shooting skills are both relatively inexpensive and invaluable. Floor spacing in today’s N.B.A. is critical.┬áProper floor spacing, coupled with the players that can take advantage of it, makes it nearly impossible for a defense to properly defend. The two teams that are having the most success thus far in these playoffs – the Phoenix Suns and the Orlando Magic – are perfect case studies built around that very philosophy.

Bell would be a role player on Miami, serving primarily as a quality backup to Dwyane Wade at shooting guard. He’s also 6’5″, so he can play small forward in a pinch. He likes to play off the ball and just launch catch-and-shoot 3s. He’s a low-mistake player whose greatest value is in helping to space the floor for his teammates. And that’s ok. He is a dangerous 3-point shooter who has shredded the nets to the tune of 41.1% for his career.

While many regard Bell as one of the game’s best defensive shooting guards, he will be 34 years old to start the 2010 season. Do not be surprised if he has lost a step out on the floor. But he remains a supreme defender on the perimeter, an attribute the Heat could desperately use – particularly from a player who will cost the team just $854,389. In a 20-or-so-minute per night role, he could keep his intensity up and his energy level high.

The 10-year veteran was traded early last season from the Charlotte Bobcats to the Golden State Warriors, but played only six games due to a partially torn ligament in his left wrist. He was released in March by the Warriors and is an unrestricted free agent. If his wrist checks out, he would be a nice addition.

However, the Heat would be wise not to officially offer him a contract until the end of the offseason. Minimum contract players can be signed after all a team’s cap space has been spent, utilizing an exception to the salary cap. If Bell is signed with room still available, he will reduce the Heat’s available cap space by $381k.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *