The Miami Heat can’t worry about rewarding Beno Udrih for his loyalty. Rather, they need to make the right decision for their future.
As the time ticks closer to the start of the NBA season, cut down day becomes one of the more important deadlines for the Miami Heat roster.
One of the biggest decisions facing the team will be which backup point guard to slot into one of their 15 spots–Briante Weber or Beno Udrih. A choice that Ira Winderman touched on in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
“I believe the Heat will lean toward Udrih initially, with the belief that Weber can be brought back up from the D-League at a point when the roster thins out, possibly when there is a resolution with Chris Bosh…”
Despite that sentiment Winderman would like to see the situation play out in a way other than the wait and see approach:
“What would I do? I believe this team, at this moment, has to take the long view, and should keep Weber.”
That may sound harsh considering Udrih agreed to an injury buyout to help Miami chase another shooter last season. However the Heat should thank him for his contributions and move on to the player that actually replaced him.
The reality is that regardless of how good of a job coach Erik Spoelstra does, the roster is still one of a likely lottery team. Which is why Miami should grab hold of their young assets and allow them to grow together.
Sure, Udrih is a markedly better shooter–46 percent to Weber’s 36–but the veteran’s assists-to-turnover ratio is merely .23 percentage points higher than the second year guard’s. A difference that is minuscule, yet obvious when watching the two on the court.
Feb 9, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Beno Udrih (19) is pressured by San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Udrih has a calming effect on the offense while Weber can be a quite frantic. However whoever makes the team will spend most nights on the inactive list because Tyler Johnson is being groomed as the first lead guard off of the bench.
In a way, that renders Udrih useless unless he is a big locker room presence.
Losing him during a time that Pat Riley considers a rebuild would not be detrimental to the future. Weber, on the other hand, has a skill that fits the Heat culture. He is not only a visual pest, in the Patrick Beverly mold, but his preseason defensive statistics have him at third in the league with 2.8 steals a game.
The 6-foot-2 point guard has also proved that he can attack the boards with four rebounds per game in his seven contests last season.
Yes, it is merely a small sample size. However, the Heat can’t release Weber with the hopes of funneling him to the D-League. Not after a team like the Memphis Grizzles signed him to a 10-day contract last season and recently hired his former assistant coach David Fizdale as its head coach.
The risk of losing him to another team is too high. However, keeping the young guard gives Miami the freedom to designate him to their Sioux Falls affiliate without the fear of being poached or let him travel with the main roster and improve his jumper with the help of shooting coach Rob Fodor.
At this point in their careers, Weber has much more upside than Udrih, so the Heat should follow their offseason practice of insuring that the good of the future trumps blind loyalty.