After suffering a gut-wrenching four-point loss Sunday night to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat’s offseason has officially arrived.
Jimmy Butler led the Heat in Game 7 with 35 points on 13-24 shooting while totaling a remarkable 82 combined points over Miami’s final two games. For more on that, check out Surya’s recap here.
The Heat concluded the regular season atop the Eastern Conference with the T-3-best record in the league at 53-29, even though the job still couldn’t quite get finished in the postseason. They downed the 8-seed Atlanta Hawks in five games, the 4-seed Philadelphia 76ers in six games before losing to the 2-seeded Celtics in seven games, the second time it’s lost a playoff series to Boston in their playoff history.
For the next several weeks, we will be looking back on the Heat’s 2021-22 season, despite the bitter ending to what was an otherwise very fruitful campaign.
But first, let’s have a brief overview of the offseason ahead and what to potentially expect:
Heat contracts in 2022-23:
Miami automatically has five guaranteed contracts on the books, plus P.J. Tucker’s player option, which he could decline if he chooses to. There is no additional team- or player-options to qualm with. Lowry, Adebayo and Butler will be on the books for over $95 million with an additional $16.9 million tied to Robinson (more on his situation later) in 2022-23.
Impending Free Agents:
Below are the Heat’s impending free agents plus their respective cap holds (for more on cap holds, click here), per Spotrac.
- Caleb Martin – $2,076,674
- Dewayne Dedmon – $1,766,970
- Markieff Morris – $1,766,970
- Udonis Haslem – $1,766,970
- Victor Oladipo – $1,766,970
- Mychal Mulder (two-way)
- Ja’Vonte Smart (two-way)
I’ve already made my case to re-sign Martin, though I don’t know how likely that would be. The 26-year-old provided remarkable athleticism to a team that wasn’t very athletic, helping assist his defensive instincts as well as his slashing in the half-court and in transition.
Re-sign UD for life (if elects to sign another minimum contract). Next.
The Heat own Oladipo’s bird-rights. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Miami signed him to a multiyear deal worth around $10-15 million. Dedmon fell out of the rotation at season’s end and was less impactful compared to 2020-21; Morris missed most of the season due to a neck injury, so he could be in-line for another minimum deal with Miami or another as well.
- Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception: $10,264,000
- Bi-Annual Exception: $4,017,000
- Trade Exception: $1,782,621 (via the KZ Okpala trade to OKC) — expires on Feb. 9, 2023
The Heat will have just one trade exception it can fill if it wants to, even though it’s unlikely it will. They could also use its NT-MLE or bi-annual exceptions to fill out its roster at the risk of hard-capping itself. If so, Miami can’t exceed the estimated $149 tax apron under any circumstance.
Barring a trade, the Heat will have just one pick in this upcoming NBA Draft: No. 27 overall. Their second-round pick was forfeited due to the tampering allegations in the Kyle Lowry free agent signing.
Here’s who SB Nation’s latest mock draft has them selecting:
Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame:
“Wesley was ranked outside of the top-100 in recruiting services coming out of South Bend before committing to hometown Notre Dame and emerging as their offensive engine and leading scorer. A 6’5 guard with a 6’11 wingspan, Wesley has tantalizing creation potential with a quick first step, long arms, and the ability to put pressure on the rim. At times it feels like Wesley can get wherever he wants on the floor because of his quickness and craft. Finishing is a different story: he made only 51 percent of his rim attempts, often botching good looks from layup range. Wesley has potential as a shooter, too, but he still needs to prove he can be productive after going 52-of-172 (30.2 percent) from three-point range. Wesley has some obviously impressive physical tools if he can improve as a finisher and shooter. He deserves to go higher than this based on his natural talent.”
Here’s my first mock-draft round-up, done in late February.
The Heat have had just four first-round draft selections since 2010, primarily dipping its toe in the undrafted pool, as well as acquiring players via trade or free agency pool as well. Only two — Herro (No. 13 overall) and Adebayo (No. 14) — of their previous first-round selections were on the 2021-22 Heat team.
Precious Achiuwa, the Heat’s latest first-round selection in the 2020 NBA Draft (No. 20), was traded to Toronto as part of the sign-and-trade for Lowry. The other was Justise Winslow (2015; No. 10 overall), who was packaged with Dion Waiters and James Johnson in a three-team trade to the Memphis Grizzlies for Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder in 2019.
Technically, P.J. Hairston (2014) and Arnett Moultrie (2012) were also drafted by the Heat, but their draft rights were immediately traded after the fact.
Four looming offseason questions I have:
1. Will Tyler Herro get extended? And for what price?
The Heat will have a Tyler Herro situation to navigate this offseason.
Herro will be in-line for a max extension worth five years, $184 million, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Will he receive that? I don’t think so. The Heat already have $95+ million tied up in Butler, Adebayo and Lowry next season and have all three on the books through 2023-24. Adding Herro on the max could hamstring most of its flexibility it would have for future seasons. It’s risky!
But can the Heat reward him a deal similar to Jaylen Brown (four year, $105M), Mikal Bridges (four-year, $90M), Fred VanVleet (four-year, $85M) or Bogdan Bogdanovic (four-year, $72M)? Perhaps!
Herro was serviceable off the bench and oftentimes was Miami’s top offensive spark. He won sixth man of the year after posting averages of 20.7 points, five rebounds and four assists on 44.7 percent shooting and 39.9 percent from beyond the arc — all career-highs.
Though Herro struggled acclimating himself in the postseason. To add insult to (literal) injury, the Heat were without their “Boy Wonder” for a majority of their final push; Herro suffered a groin strain in Game 3 of the ECF and didn’t return until Game 6, when he clearly wasn’t 100%. He played in just seven first-half minutes without a point on two shots.
Even without an explosive first-step, Herro was arguably Miami’s top regular season half-court creator as well, using a bevy of hesitations, in-and-out dribbles plus shifty-enough crossovers to snake and navigate his through defenses to get to his spots. Miami was 2.5 points per 100 plays better in the half-court with Herro on the floor, the third-best mark for players who played at least 1,000 regular season minutes.
Herro was responsible for a fair amount of the offense’s shot-creation when he was on the floor; Strus and Martin, the two above him, were not.
Defensively, while the Heat would attempt to hide Herro at the bottom of Heat’s 2-3 zone or stash him on the team’s worst shooter, he would still get hunted.
Herro added muscle to his frame last offseason and will continue to throughout his NBA career, but Miami’s 22-year-old was still one of its worst individual defenders despite good effort. And that’s mostly a testament to how good the Heat were defensively — but Herro still has plenty of room to grow nonetheless.
I think investing in Herro is worth it, but we also have to remember that he’s the Heat’s most desirable trade asset not named Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler. If Pat Riley were to fish for another star this offseason (which isn’t out the question), Herro would most likely be involved in that trade.
2. How will the Heat address its issues in the half-court?
After it was slightly above-average during the regular season, the Heat had very noticeable deficiencies with its half-court offense this postseason, oftentimes relying on Butler to generate something out of nothing.
In the playoffs, Miami’s half-court offensive rating was a dismal 90.3 points per 100 possessions, by far the worst of any of the final four teams entering the conference finals, per Cleaning the Glass. In nine of their 18 playoff games, their half-court offense fell below that aforementioned benchmark — four of them against Boston.
The Heat didn’t have enough reliable half-court options. They’ll need to find some, or better optimize the offense to unlock more (reliable) half-court options next season.
Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal — assuming he opts out of his $35M player option and doesn’t re-sign for approximately $250M, contradictary to his continuous iteration of remaining in Washington — are the two most obvious free agents that could boost shot-creation. Other than them, plus Kyrie Irving (who I can’t forsee Miami signing anyways) and James Harden, the free-agent market is relatively thin in that regard.
The Heat could also look to trade for Donovan Mitchell or Bradley Beal — two players that have been linked to Miami for *checks notes* centuries now, or at least feels like they have. Those are the two top names, among others.
Anywho, the Heat have issues to resolve in the half-court. I’m not — and never will be — smarter than Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg, so that job of potentially aiding it will be up to them. Spare me, I’m just a writer!
3. Which non-guaranteed contracts get guaranteed?
As I listed above, the Heat will have four non-guaranteed contracts (for less than $2 million) on the books for next season: Omer Yurtseven, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Haywood Highsmith.
Personally, I’d say all get guaranteed, even though it’s not a guarantee — figuratively and literally.
Vincent and Strus played their way into reliable rotation players. Vincent averaged 8.7 points and 3.1 assists, shooting 41.7 percent from the floor and 36.8 percent from distance (4.8 attempts) after tweaking his shot last offseason; Strus, who earned a starting role in-place of Robinson, tallied 10,6 points and 3.0 rebounds on 44.1 percent shooting and 41.0 percent from 3-point range (6.5 attempts).
Vincent was one of Miami’s feistiest point-of-attack defenders, especially at the top of their 2-2-1 full-court press and 2-3 zone (with Martin or Oladipo). Strus improved defensively throughout the season, but still got picked on in the postseason with Lowry-Butler-Tucker-Adebayo on the floor.
Yurtseven filled-in for Adebayo and Dedmon in their absences, proving to be a good rebounder, capable finisher and was an improving drop-defender. He posted averages of 5.3 points and 5.3 boards in 12.6 minutes per game, shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and 62.3 percent from the charity stripe as a rookie.
Highsmith is the only wildcard, though Miami inked a three-year deal (through ‘23-’24) after his third 10-day contract expired in the offseason, so I don’t anticipate Miami releasing him.
4. What does Miami do with Duncan Robinson?
Last, but certainly not least: What will Miami do with Robinson?
The 6-foot-7 sharpshooter was shelved in the latter part of the season, in-part due to his defense — specifically his propensity to pick up quick (and sometimes silly) fouls.
Hand up, I’m a Duncan Robinson guy. When he’s on, I think he’s one of the best shooters on the planet that induces Jupiter-esque gravity regardless if he’s 1-for-7 or 6-for-7. And I think you could live with the defensive inconsistencies with him being surrounded by Butler, Lowry, Tucker and Adebayo, among others.
But when Spo took him out of the lineup — it was because it need an obvious change. Robinson had a down season, knocking down a career-low 37.2 percent of his 3-pointers — which, for most, is good! For Robinson, not so much!
Miami paid Robinson $90M over five years last offseason — its only contract that within the $10-20 million salary-filler threshold for a potential trade.
Robinson clearly lost the starting job and I’m not sure if he’ll get it back anytime soon, or at least not to begin next season, should he remain in the 305. Miami could bring him back to improve his on-court value and progress his development or move him as an obligatory salary-filler in a bigger trade.
I wouldn’t deal a player at his lowest value. But, again, I’m not The Godfather. Other teams might also balk at the contract and not accept any Riley-attempted fleece — but, my point is: Miami needs to make a decision regarding Robinson this offseason. Does he stay and have a role? Or does he get moved when his on-court (and contractual) value is clearly not where it was a season ago?
Only time will tell.
What are you wanting/looking forward to/expecting this offseason? Comment below!