Was Josh McRoberts brought in to replace Chris Bosh on the Heat?


(Associated Press)

Following a week of speculation and anonymous sources, Pat Riley made his first move in free agency Tuesday, signing power forward Josh McRoberts to a four-year, $23 million deal.

After watching a number of free agents sign with higher bidders, it quickly became apparent that certain targets on the Heat’s wish list were simply out of its price range.

Miami will likely use its full midlevel exception to sign the 27-year-old. For McRoberts, the deal represents a hefty pay raise. Through his first seven NBA seasons, McRoberts totaled just more than $11.5 million in salary.

But with the latest rumors centered on Houston offering Chris Bosh a max, four-year deal, somewhere in the $80 to $90 million range, some have wondered whether McRoberts could be a replacement for Bosh, rather than an addition to the Big Three.

Last year, McRoberts and Bosh shared similar spaces on the floor and their shot charts have some overlap, at least in terms of perimeter shooting.

Bosh:


McRoberts:


While Bosh attempted far more shots overall and was more efficient from midrange, McRoberts offers similar three-point shooting range.

You could argue that if Bosh were to leave, McRoberts would be a suitable, if far more limited, alternative on offense.

McRoberts was a key part of Charlotte’s most-used five-man lineup, which included Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson. That lineup outscored opponents by nearly 11 points per 100 possessions.

But that lineup featured a traditional low-post presence in Al Jefferson, who anchored the unit’s rebounding and low-post scoring.

Miami, meanwhile, stayed with its small ball lineup for most of the regular season. Its most-used five-man unit featured Shane Battier at the power forward position, alongside Bosh. While that lineup outscored opponents by just over eight points per 100 possessions, it grabbed only 45.1 percent of available rebounds, a number that would be last in the league. The Heat dusted off Rashard Lewis in the Playoffs, but the same broader trend continued.

Should LeBron James and Bosh stay in Miami, the Heat would effectively return to a more traditional lineup with two big men. This should, in theory, improve their rebounding woes. During his time in Miami, Battier averaged 5.1 rebounds per 100 possessions. McRoberts has averaged more than double that (10.8) during his career, close to Bosh’s output (11.4).

Defensively, Bosh has the edge and is a key cog in Miami’s frenetic pick-and-roll defense. Neither Bosh nor McRoberts are gifted rim protectors and if Chris Andersen signs elsewhere, the Heat will be lacking in this area. Last season, opponents shot 52.4 percent at the rim against Bosh and 53.8 percent against McRoberts, compared with 47.8 percent against Andersen, according to SportsVU.

The addition of McRoberts could effectively spell the end of Heat small ball. Or, depending on how James feels about the Dukie, it could mean the end of the Big Three era in Miami.

Thomas Johnson is a reporter.
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