With the All-Star break behind them, the Miami Heat are focused on their goal of accomplishing a rare three-peat. Although Miami has that mindset, the Heat appear comfortable with the talent on their roster ahead of of the NBA trade deadline on Thursday.
What is happening, however, is other teams are on the lookout for talent.
Miami is 35-13 after defeating the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night and are positioned to be one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference depending on how the Indiana Pacers finish.
There's not a lot to talk about in the way of player movement when it comes to the Heat, but there's at least one interesting story line to follow as we explore the Heat's place amid all the chaos of deadline week.
Can someone pry away Norris Cole?
The market for point guard Norris Cole is heating up, and the Heat may get an offer for the second-year player that they have to consider. According to reports, Cole has several factors contributing to his attractiveness on the open market. For one, he's a young player who's still on the rookie scale and showing the potential to be a starter.
But the Heat have been steadfast in their commitment to retain Cole. He showed them a great deal in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls with the ability to produce in big moments. He's averaged 7.6 points and 2.3 assists per game through the All-Star break and is en route to trump his numbers from a season ago. He's on the way up, and his modest price tag and ability to run the offense are enticing.
What happens with Cole -- which will most likely be nothing -- is worth keeping tabs on. If nothing more, if any potential offers leak, it'll be interesting to see what the market says he's worth.
What happens next?
If (when?) the Heat do nothing before Thursday, the next question from a personnel standpoint becomes: What will the roster look like next season? If the Big Three each opt out of their current deals in order to become free agents and effectively break up fabric of the current squad, there will be plenty of cap space with which to attract another marquee player. It's hard to envision Chris Bosh Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all leaving, but if it happens, then the Heat will need to look toward free agency to re-build.
Having a player like Cole under contract through 2014-15 and as a restricted free agent in '15-16 is the kind of factor that will convince future star free agents (perhaps even their own) to stay in South Beach. In addition to James, Bosh and Wade, Udonis Haslem has a player option and could look to move on depending on circumstances, though it's likely he'll collect on the $4.62 million slated to come his way.
Elsewhere, only Chris Andersen and Cole are signed through next year.
The focus is elsewhere
Miami's record is indicative of the fact they have enough pieces to contend for NBA glory for the third consecutive year. Nothing is broken, and if anything, they are better positioned to make a run than last year. Greg Oden has been a great story, and he gives them valuable depth at a position where they were deficient last season.
If the Heat have a need, it's depth at the wing. Dwyane Wade's status has been touch and go all year, and Ray Allen has started to slow down a bit. Miami did add Toney Douglas to bolster the backcourt already, but he's only played double-digit minutes twice.
Still, it appears as if the team Miami has now is the team they'll go to battle with in the playoffs. Is it good enough to win another title? It will likely come down to health, and the indomitable will of LeBron James.