The Heat waived Eric Griffin and Justin Hamilton on Saturday, bringing the team’s roster to the league maximum of 15 players in advance of opening night against the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.
That means that veterans Michael Beasley and Roger Mason Jr. remain with the team for now, which was somewhat expected. But it’s worth noting that this doesn’t guarantee either player a long-term position on the roster, or one that would even last much beyond the first of the year.
It has been clear for weeks that both would make it at least that far, with Mason Jr. providing some versatility and shooting touch from the perimeter, and Beasley showing a bit more discipline than during his first Heat stint.
But Miami doesn’t need to guarantee either until Jan. 10, making this an extended trial. Heat officials have made it clear that they prize their versatility, whether it means calling up a developing talent from the Sioux Falls Skyforce or signing a veteran who gets bought out elsewhere. Unless Pat Riley manages to trade Joel Anthony — a near-impossible task considering Anthony’s $3.9 million player option for the 2014-15 season — Mason, Jr. and Beasley would be the easiest to purge to create space.
That Joel Anthony ship has sailed, as he’s no longer even a serviceable NBA big — he’s essentially capable of providing six fouls per night, and not much else. No contract is untradeable, of course, but it would be difficult to see a team incentivized to take on Anthony unless they were involved in a multi-player deal that would require his contract to make the salaries match.
Since that’s very unlikely with the way the Heat are constructed this season, it means that Beasley and Mason will need to prove their respective worth before that January deadline to guarantee their deals for the remainder of the season.
Roster flexibility is of the utmost importance to teams contending for a title. Remember, Miami didn’t add Chris Andersen to the mix until late January of last season, and he was a key contributor for them at various times throughout the postseason. So unless Beasley and Mason are model citizens (we’re only talking about one of the two here, obviously) who consistently contribute in the early part of the season, it’s fairly likely that one will be asked to leave before that Jan. 10 date is upon us.