Pat Riley has finally secured a free agent, though it isn't a big name like so many other rumored targets. Instead, it's Charlotte Hornets forward Josh McRoberts who will sign for the full mid-level exception, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
ESPN learned that Josh McRoberts has verbally committed to sign with the Miami Heat— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 7, 2014
ESPN has learned that McRoberts will receive Heat's full midlevel for the next four years ($23 million) with a player option after Year 3— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 7, 2014
It is unclear whether the Heat will technically use the mid-level exception, because they could stay under the cap or remain over it and turn the transaction into a sign-and-trade to preserve the exception for a different player. Nevertheless, it's a significant commitment and one that'll dramatically limit their flexibility with other options.
The move comes after the Heat pursued bigger names such as Marcin Gortat, Kyle Lowry and others, all who appear to be out of their price range. Gortat and Lowry stayed with their teams, and while other targets such as Trevor Ariza, Luol Deng and Pau Gasol are still out there, they will likely sign elsewhere for more money than the Heat can offer. Miami potential cap room is unclear because it's unknown how much Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will agree to sign for if LeBron James stays and signs a maximum contract.
McRoberts' decision was made expecting that James will be a teammate, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
No guarantees made, but Danny Granger/Josh McRoberts committed to Heat w/ strong belief LeBron James will be a teammate, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 7, 2014
Free Agency on hold
Free Agency on hold
McRoberts can still certainly help the Heat's front court. He became a full-time starter with the Hornets last season, starting all 78 games he played in. Playing next to Al Jefferson, McRoberts transformed his game, adding a respectable three-point shot and becoming one of the better passing big men in the NBA. McRoberts never took more than 1.3 three-pointers per game prior to last season, but he attempted 3.7 per game this past year. The 27-year-old made 36.1 percent of those shots from long distance. He also averaged a career-high 4.3 assists.
In addition to all that, McRoberts was a key member of a top-10 defense, and his mobility helped protect Jefferson's weaknesses on that end. This makes him an ideal fit in the Heat's system, which asks its big men to hedge high on pick and rolls and scurry back quickly to their men.
However, McRoberts is not much of a scorer, was very poor on the glass last year and certainly isn't a rim protector, so he doesn't solve many of Miami's weaknesses. It's also possible his strong 2013-14 season was a fluke.