An Ode To Mario Chalmers: The Most Polarizing Player in Heat Franchise History
Love him or hate him, Almario Vernard Chalmers is one of the most polarizing players to ever put on a Miami Heat jersey. Some people love his confidence, where he truly believes he’s the best player on the court at any time.
Other people can’t believe how many times an NBA player can dribble the ball off his shoe or throw an alley-oop pass out of bounds.
However you feel about Chalmers, his time in Miami is officially over after he was traded to Memphis along with James Ennis last Tuesday for Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes.
Here’s five thoughts on what this trade means for the Heat going forward, as we bid our farewells to the Mario Chalmers era in Miami.
1. Early Thoughts on the Trade
From a basketball perspective, I’m not sure the trade makes the Heat any better. Chalmers was the Heat’s crutch off the bench. He was a decent ball-handler, passer and penetrator, and could space the floor with his three-point shooting.
Chalmers also was an excellent pick-and-roll defender for the Heat, especially this season. If you ignore all the dumb turnovers and stupid fouls, you’d think he was a half-decent rotation player.
Similarly, James Ennis never lived up to his potential. Ennis, an athletic freak, had several opportunities on the court to become a consistent role player, but after a very disappointing Summer League — his third with the Heat — his time in Miami was running out.
“We decided to give these young guys some room to grow and gain confidence, and they’re not just gonna do it in the D-League. So, sometimes you have to make those kinds of decisions,” Riley said.
From the Grizzlies, the Heat received Beno Udrih, who will likely suit up each game (he’ll literally be wearing a suit) and Jarnell Stokes, a young guy who played his collegiate ball at Tennessee with Josh Richardson. It seems the two were brought in to save some money and lower the luxury tax (and may even be moved before the trade deadline).
It’s possible adding another lefty from Slovenia in Udrih might make Goran Dragic feel a little more comfortable as he seems to be a little off early in the season.
And if the Heat decides to keep Stokes, a First-Team All-SEC selection his junior season, I really like his potential as a Udonis Haslem-esque big man off the bench who can rebound at a high rate.
In his final season at Tennessee, Stokes posted 15.1 points and a conference-best 10.6 rebounds on .531 shooting in 32.4 minutes in 37 games. In the NCAA Tournament, he helped guide the Volunteers to a Sweet 16 appearance and upped his season averages to 18 points and 12.8 rebounds in four tournament games.
2. How Will You Remember Chalmers’ Time in Miami?
If you follow me on Twitter (@hlcytryn), you’d know that I smiled quite a bit on Tuesday. Chalmers has been the most frustrating player I’ve ever watched play basketball, and I’ve coached six-year-olds before. He has all the skills to be a super effective scoring guard, but his lack of brain cells constantly got in the way.
Even when Chalmers made a nice play on the offensive or defensive end, he’d find a way to mess it up on the other end of the court. I won’t be sorry to see him go and I really thought he was gone after LeBron James went back to Cleveland.
He made some nice plays in a Heat uniform and will always be remembered as a two-time NBA champion, but it was definitely time for the Heat to move on with Chalmers, who was unlikely to be re-signed next year.
3. What is Your Favorite ‘Rio Moment?
Even though Rio was the black sheep of my Miami Heat family, he had some impressive moments in his Heat career. Most people remember his clutch performance in Game 4 of the 2012 Finals against OKC when he bailed LeBron out after he left the game with cramps.
And most people forget he had a huge three-pointer to tie the score in Game 2 of the 2011 Finals against Dallas. Most people forget because Dirk Nowitzki came right down the court, stole Chris Bosh’s lunch money and won the game anyway on a last second layup.
However, my favorite Mario Chalmers’ moment was Game 7 of the 2013 Finals against the Spurs. The Heat was down by 2 with a few seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Rio, with all the confidence in the world, came down the court and pulled up from 3 and banked the shot in at the buzzer.
The crowd went nuts, especially the upper level where I was sitting for that game, and it changed the momentum and allowed the Heat to capture their third NBA title.
4. What Do the Heat Do Now?
Pat Riley claims Miami made the trade to open up some more playing time for the young guys, specifically Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson.
“You’ve gotta give, sometimes, people room to really grow,” Riley said in a press conference announcing the trade. “We decided to give these young guys some room to grow and gain confidence, and they’re not just gonna do it in the D-League. So, sometimes you have to make those kinds of decisions.”
Spoelstra is realizing that playing a rotation of three big men is allowing Miami to create some ingenious small ball lineups with one starter surrounded by a group of bench players.
Their energy and defense off the bench should continue to pay huge dividends for the Heat and as Chris Hernandez wrote in his story analyzing Miami’s depth and how Erik Spoelstra should deploy his new pieces, Miami has a tremendous mix of defensive-oriented wings and a unique playmaking passer in Josh McRoberts.
And Spoelstra is realizing that playing a rotation of three big men (Whiteside, Bosh and McRoberts) is allowing Miami to create some ingenious small ball lineups with one starter surrounded by a group of bench players.
They’re causing headaches for teams, especially during the third and fourth quarters, and the latest “Justise League” lineup of Johnson, Richardson, Justise Winslow, McRoberts and Bosh is one that has the possibility to become special.
Chalmers will be missed, but the other guys off the bench can pick up the slack and provide a spark — hopefully minus the mind-numbing plays known as the “Chalmers’ special.”
5. Who’s Next on the Trading Block for Miami?
The moment Miami gave Dwyane Wade a raise from $16 million to $20 million this offseason, the days of Chalmers and Chris “Birdman” Anderson were numbered. Heat owner, Micky Arison, has shown a willingness to pay the luxury tax before, but it makes sense for Miami to avoid the tax this season.
If the Heat can get under the luxury tax ($84.74 million this season) before the trade deadline in February, the Heat will avoid the very punitive repeater tax and will be able to avoid it for the foreseeable future.
By trading away Chalmers and Ennis, the Heat sit just $5.6 million over the luxury tax, according to HeatHoops.com’s @albertrandom1.
If Heat finds way to miss tax altogether, “repeater” won’t be issue in Miami until at least 19-20 (and almost surely until at least 20-21).
— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertRandom1) November 10, 2015
Therefore, it’s very likely that Birdman and another small-salaried player will be shipped out as a salary dump before the trade deadline in February.