The Miami Heat have reportedly made their first commitment of free agency by agreeing to terms with Josh McRoberts on a four-year, $23 million deal, according to ESPN.com. That contract (which includes a player option in its final season) is valued at the full mid-level exception, though whether Miami is in a position to use the actual mid-level exception still very much depends on the rest of the Heat's offseason moves.
McRoberts, 27, averaged 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists with the Bobcats last season. His unusual combination of skills helped Charlotte – which ranked 27th in three-point attempts – to make best use of its poor spacing. By stretching his own shooting range out to the three-point line (36.1 percent) as a power forward, McRoberts turned out to be an ideal complement for the post-centric Al Jefferson. Even more valuable, though, was McRoberts' ability to act as an offensive fulcrum by way of his passing. His quick hits and redirects helped to keep Charlotte's offense moving in tight quarters, a quality which should translate even more effectively to a star-laden Heat team – provided all three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade return.
It would seem that the Heat are operating under the assumption that they will. By agreeing to sign McRoberts for the mid-level exception, Miami has hinted that it may be working as a cap team this summer rather than one operating with cap room. The evidence mounts in the fact that the Heat have also committed to Danny Granger on a two-year deal for the amount of the biannual exception ($2.1 million annually, $4.2 million total). Should that be the case, these signings – along with the draft-day acquisition of Shabazz Napier – are likely the big moves of the Heat free agency. Other, smaller signings would need to follow to fill out the roster, but a capped-out Miami team will have no other space or significant exceptions with which to make big-name additions. Should they go that route, the Heat, having made use of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, would also have to maneuver under the hard cap of $81 million.
Again, it's possible that Miami is simply dealing in amounts equivalent to those particular exceptions as to maintain flexibility in its negotiations with James, Wade and Bosh. If that turns out to be the case and the Heat manage to stay under the cap, they may be in line for a few more minor moves depending on the exact contract values of the three stars. Regardless, the market has shown that the likes of Kyle Lowry, Pau Gasol, Luol Deng and Marcin Gortat were well out of the Heat's reach. Instead, Riley has sought to upgrade Miami's reserve of role players and found a good one in McRoberts.
As far as supporting pieces go, McRoberts does plenty of what the Heat need. He's enough of a shooter to keep defenses honest, a good enough passer to make up for two point guards (Napier and Norris Cole) with limited playmaking skills and capable of filling power forward minutes to spare James the trouble. It needs to be noted, though, that McRoberts is an iffy defender and a miserable rebounder for his position; he is not without his faults, and those two in particular feed into preexisting team weaknesses. Still, by having the facilitating skills necessary to make an already explosive offense more buoyant, McRoberts should earn his keep.
Grade: B/C-plus. McRoberts is a quality get if all goes according to plan, though a four-year deal this rich will look quite different if it doesn't lure back LeBron James. Still, there's no real potential for disaster here; teams (like the Hornets, who were loathe to see their starting power forward go) will still be interested in trading for McRoberts on a $5-6 million salary, so at worst the Heat will have acquired some new furniture for their sinking ship.