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The Miami Heat have begun casting for free agents, going after a number of seasoned veterans, including Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Marcus Camby.
The Heat are going after the usual crop of veterans who might be willing to accept a lower salary in return for a chance at a championship ring alongside the Big Three. Miami can only dole out the veteran minimum and one mini mid-level extension (worth $3.1 million a year), so the Heat hope someone will do as Shane Battier did last year and accept a below-market-value deal.
The Heat offered Allen (a guard) a two-year deal at the mini mid-level, but the Boston Celtics have offered to re-sign him for $12 million over the same period. With Kevin Garnett returning to Boston for another year, Allen may not wish to break up the Celtics core. Atlanta, Dallas, and the LA Clippers are also interested in signing Allen. David Aldridge of NBA.com tweeted Tuesday morning that Allen will visit the Heat on Thursday and the Clippers on Friday.
Forward Rashard Lewis has emerged as the Heat's plan B. Injuries limited him to 28 games last season, but he averaged 11.4 points a game on 36% three-point shooting. He would fill a role similar to Battier, playing the wing and defending opposing forwards.
Meanwhile, Camby could become expendable to the Rockets after Houston signed an offer sheet to free agent Omar Asik. Chicago has a chance to match Houston's offer, but if the Bulls don't Camby could be dropped by Houston.
Miami is waiting until Allen makes a decision to offer anyone else the more lucrative mini mid-level, and Camby reportedly does not want to take the minimum.
One man who will very likely not be coming to Miami is point guard Steve Nash. He has expressed an interest in making star money, and the Toronto Raptors have reportedly responded by offering him a 3-year, $36 million contract. The Heat met with Nash on Monday.
As with Allen and Camby, the Heat will not be able to match any other offer Nash might receive thanks to its tight salary cap situation. Miami ended up getting Battier for a bargain last season, but outcomes like that are less favorable than their converse.