Even though it’s hard to ignore the contribution of Shane Battier to the two NBA titles the Miami Heat have won, it’s just as difficult to avoid the fact that he wasn’t as vital during the second championship run the team made on both ends of the floor, and that might mean he isn’t going to be re-signed once he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
Battier had a an up & down playoff, especially in the last two series vs the Pacers and the Spurs. From game 5 in the conference finals to game 4 in the NBA finals, Battier spent less than 10 minutes each night on the floor, and didn’t even get to play in game 7 against the Spurs.
However, he had a huge part to play in the title-clincher with an awesome 6-of-8 from beyond the arc, scoring his playoff-high 18 points, helping the Heat win the last two games with their backs against the wall.
The question is how much does he have left? No one is making rash decisions 9 months in advance. If Battier can continue to bring his blend of outside shooting and defense during the 20 or so minutes he’s on the floor, keeping him on a minimum deal (he’s making $3.3 million next season) makes quite a lot of sense.
But Battier is feeling that this might be the last season with the Heat, and in the NBA as well. His body isn’t as strong as it used to be, and his defense on power forwards, which is something he’s had to do a lot over the last couple of years, has declined. Battier is one of those players that has a lot going for him beyond the game of basketball, and at some point he might even looking forward to the day that he isn’t defined by his NBA career.
I’m realistic to where I am at this point in my life. I’d like to finish my contract strong with the Miami Heat, and then we’ll see where we go. This door is always open. This is not a farewell tour, no. But if it is, it is. And I’ll enjoy this year and try to make the most of it.
Battier brings more than numbers – there’s the leadership, basketball IQ and defense to account for. Only at some point the physical decline can’t be made up for with mental attributes, and after 13 NBA seasons, the end is looking closer than ever.