I personally love watching the Miami Heat play, especially in the playoffs where they are fighting for their lives through extraordinary coaching, scrappy defense, and miracle work from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make a run to the Conference Finals and, hell, I’ll be rooting for them to pull off all the upsets. But that’s the thing, it would be unexpected for Miami to make it to the Conference Finals let alone the NBA Finals. And that right there puts the Heat in a strange position of being semi-contenders in the NBA. This has lead me to the rabbit-hole question of what will Miami do this offseason?
First things first, the most important information to gather is the team payroll for the next few years (via SportsReference):
And here are some key free agents Miami will have to look into re-signing:
- Max Strus
- Gabe Vincent
- Omer Yurtseven
- Orlando Robinson
- Kevin Love (Will he be a rental for this year only?)
So looking at all of this roster information, it is obvious that the Heat are in a bit of a jam when it comes to flexibility. They are stuck with the core of Butler, Adebayo, and Herro which isn’t bad at all but considering that’s roughly 60% of their payroll for next year then you better hope you’re getting great value from the role players. But, that’s the thing, Miami isn’t getting great value from guys like Lowry, Robinson, Martin, and Oladipo – it actually feels like the Heat are winning in spite of these guys. Lowry has been a net-negative this season, Robinson is a DNP making $18M, Martin is a great role player being thrust into a starting job out of position, and Oladipo is unreliable.
All of these issues have Miami relying on pretty much Jimmy, Bam, Herro, Strus, and Vincent. It’s actually pretty remarkable to see the Heat above .500.
So what should Pat Riley and co. do this summer?
I personally think they should try to go younger and add in some athleticism and playmaking. They don’t need any young studs that can take over games or anything like that, but some youthful guards who can create their own shots.
Miami also desperately needs to address the 4 spot next to Bam. Hopefully, Nikola Jovic surprises and becomes a stud in his sophomore season next year but that is as unreliable as expecting 6’5″ Caleb Martin having success at the 4 this year.
That leads us to these logical moves that the Heat should make:
- Re-sign Max Strus at $15M/year (they have his Bird Rights)
- Re-sign Gabe Vincent at $8M/year (they have his Bird Rights)
- Re-sign Orlando Robinson on a minimum contract
- Trade the expiring contracts of Lowry and/or Oladipo
- Target young playmakers in the draft
With the Heat having the Bird Rights to Strus and Vincent, it is almost a certainty they will retain them as they would lose so much production and would be unable to replace that considering their cap restraints. I also anticipate that Orlando Robinson will be the choice for Miami as the backup center over Yurtseven. The really fun projections, though, are with Lowry and Oladipo’s expiring contracts. If they can get off of those, then the options really open up for Miami.
Based on these moves the Heat would be locked in with:
- Jimmy Butler
- Bam Adebayo
- Tyler Herro
- Max Strus
- Duncan Robinson
- Gabe Vincent
- Caleb Martin
- Nikola Jovic
- Haywood Highsmith
- Orlando Robinson
With those 10 guys, there is definitely potential to add a playmaker and a strong 4 man to the roster. Potential free agent targets for Miami:
- Grant Williams
- Jerami Grant
- Dennis Smith Jr.
- Jevon Carter
- Harrison Barnes
- Derrick Jones Jr.
These free agents fit the mold of what Miami is looking for at the 1 and 4 spots with Williams, Barnes, Grant, and Jones Jr. all bring floor spacing and better size than Caleb Martin. For players like Williams, Barnes, and Grant, Miami would most likely need to facilitate a sign-and-trade which would make things interesting. With Smith Jr. and Carter, they would be getting defensive-first players.
Draft targets for the Heat:
- Terquavion Smith: PG/SG from NC State
- Jalen Hood-Schifino: PG/SG from Indiana
- Brice Sensabaugh: SF from Ohio State
These guys are players that could be in the pick range for Miami and they all have the ability to get their own basket – which would be huge for the Heat who struggle with that.
So what should Miami do? I think it’s obvious that they have to find a way to get rid of Lowry, whether it’s just taking back second round picks this summer or including him in a sign-and-trade acquisition. Getting off that contract would open up some roster flexibility and give Miami the opportunity to move toward more youth and athleticism. Maybe they also have to ship out Caleb Martin who’s on a MLE contract? Or add in Jovic as a sweetener in a trade?
Whatever it may be, Miami needs to add some juice and I think targeting guys like Grant Williams, Dennis Smith Jr., and Terquavion Smith could prove to be huge in a roster shakeup in South Beach.