Basketball / Sports

Heat looking for ready-to-play NBA Draft prospect

MIAMI -- The Miami Heat don't always delve into the NBA Draft, but when they do, they prefer ready to-go talent.

So while Heat Vice President of Personnel Chet Kammerer wasn't presenting himself as the most interesting man in the evaluation room Monday, he did offer clear insight into how Thursday might play out for the team.

"We're more about having a player contribute immediately," Kammerer said of the team's win-now mode. "There's no question."

While LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all could opt into free agency within a week, Kammerer said the 20 prospects the Heat have targeted with the No. 26 pick in Thursday's first round are players he could envision bolstering a veteran core.

"When I say, 'Our 20,' that's because we eliminate people who we really think could be good, but you're going to have to wait two or three years," Kammerer said during his annual pre-draft briefing at AmericanAirlines Arena. "We prefer to draft someone because of our situation, someone who can contribute immediately."

Although he declined to name names, with the Heat having privately worked out 40 players in advance of the draft during seven sessions, Kammerer envisions that a ready-to-go prospect could be available at No. 26.

"Like I say, we need a couple of breaks," he said. "I think that's possible, because a lot of organizations don't look at it that way. They're looking at long term. We're not looking long term."

That has been particularly true with the prospects the Heat have retained from recent drafts, four-year players like Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.

The Heat have dealt most of their first-round picks in recent years and owe the Cleveland Cavaliers a first-round pick next year to complete the 2010 sign-and-trade agreement for James.

Kammerer, though, said he was optimistic the Heat would retain their No. 26 selection.

"At this point," he said, "I think we'd like to add someone that can be on our roster, that would be a rookie."

Timing issues make such a projection difficult. James, Wade and Bosh have until June 30 to finalize their intentions with their early-termination clauses.

Should the Heat retain all three and again operate well above the salary cap and luxury tax for 2014-15, there then could be benefit in trading the pick for a veteran, with several reports Monday of interest by the New York Knicks in dealing guard Iman Shumpert for a first-round pick in the Heat's draft range.

However, should James, Wade and Bosh all agree to restructured contracts that would allow the Heat to operate this offseason below the salary cap, then dealing the pick for a future selection or selecting an overseas player who would not count against the cap could work to the Heat's benefit.

"We have looked at a lot of international players," Kammerer said. "I'm not saying we are going to select one this year."

Kammerer said his responsibility is to come to the table with a prospect that Heat President Pat Riley deems a keeper.

"This year, actually I feel a little pressure this year, because we do have a pick at 26, and we've prepared," Kammerer said, with his draft-evaluation staff this offseason including former Heat players Tim Hardaway and Keith Askins, who moved into the front office last summer. "We have covered this as thoroughly as we can.

"We have 20 guys that we really like. Hopefully one of those 20 is going to be there. I have no idea."

The Heat's primary need would appear to be at center and point guard, where Chalmers is a free agent.

"I think the wing position probably has more depth than anything else," Kammerer said. "I think power forwards and centers are pretty limited. There's a few. I don't think it's very deep there. But I think there's a lot of ones, twos and threes, I think there's depth in those positions."

By July 1, it is possible that backup point guard Norris Cole could be the only player under contract to the Heat, with every other player on the final 2013-14 roster having the ability to be a free agent.

"At this point, it's hard enough to pick a player," Kammerer said of the roster uncertainty. "We'll go with the best player on the board."

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