SE division: Heat biding time in offseason

SE division: Heat biding time in offseason
July 7, 2013, 12:45 pm
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The Wizards have certainly been busy this off-season, but how do they stack up with the other teams in the Southeast Division? After starting in Charlotte and Orlando, we now head to South Beach and those talented, two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

Last season: 66-16, first place; Not resting on its Southeast Division title (that's sarcasm), the Heat survived a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers and then rallied to knock off the Spurs 4-3 in the NBA finals. LeBron James led Miami in scoring (25.9), rebounds (8.4) and assists (6.6). 

What's new: Not that much. The vast majority of Miami's roster remains under contract now that Ray Allen opted into the final year of his two-year deal, though Chris "Birdman" Andersen is a free agent. The Heat entered the draft without any picks, but acquired Long Beach State's James Ennis after the Hawks selected the springy small forward in the second round. 

Projected 2013-14 lineup: PF LeBron James; SF Shane Battier; C Chris Bosh; SG Dwyane Wade; PG Mario Chalmers; Key reserves G Ray Allen, F Udonis Haslem, G Norris Cole. 

Outlook: Dwight Howard joined James Harden in Houston, the Nets added Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Russell Westbrook should be healthy for the Thunder, and hopefully the same can eventually be said for Derrick Rose with the Bulls and Danny Granger with the Pacers. Regardless, James and company remain the NBA title favorites and with good reason. Indications are that Miami wants Andersen back. With or without Birdman, the team has rebounding issues so ideally the Heat tacks on more inside presence options in order to survive another playoff matchup with the Bulls, Pacers and Spurs. Could Miami use a steadier backcourt option than Chalmers and Cole, sure. Some younger legs, no doubt. Ultimately, a three-peat can take place if Wade's creaky knees heal and if James remains indestructible. Based on what we know, at least one of those musts is a lock - as is the Heat once again winning the Southeast Division.