On Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat to win the NBA Finals in six games. When the bubble began, the Heat was considered an underdog. Although I picked them as a team that could surprise us back in June, I wasn’t predicting they’d get to the NBA Finals. I saw a team with a great culture, great selflessness, and a lot of room to grow. Over the course of the restart, the Heat proved they’re not a year away, they’re contenders now. And Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro will all return to make sure the job gets done next year. Here we’re looking at the Heat offseason.
Taking A Look At The Miami Heat Offseason
The Stars Are Coming Back
As mentioned above, Butler, Adebayo, and Herro are the three pillars of the team and are all returning. Butler had an all-time series in his own right. Before the Game Six blowout loss, Butler averaged 29.2 points, 10.2 assists, and 8.2 rebounds. He went toe-to-toe with LeBron James, played elite defense, and looked worth every dollar of his max contract. Herro and Adebayo are looking to grow after a humbling series for both youngsters. Adebayo’s injury in game one caused him to miss games two and three.
When he returned he simply wasn’t as effective and lacked the aggression you want your star to have. In his defense though, the injury he suffered was a pretty bad one. Herro meanwhile, was held to 36 percent from the floor and was tasked to do too much on offense due to Goran Dragic‘s injury. But he’s only 20 years old and a rookie so he gets a pass. The trio of stars is dangerous and only going to get better. But what about their supporting cast?
Who Else Is Coming Back?
Luckily for the Heat, their three stars will have a healthy amount of supporting talent returning. Kelly Olynyk is expected to accept his player option for 12 million, which would give the Heat another big whose biggest strength is stretching the floor. Other big players Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn are also going to be back. Nunn was second in ROTY voting and was a big offensive presence before the cancellation. He regained his confidence during the Finals after playing horridly during the bubble. He’s a building block long-term along with Robinson.
Robinson’s 44.6 percent shooting from downtown was fourth-best in the league. And his defense improved greatly compared to a year ago. Finally, Andre Iguodala will be 37 next season but is still a good defender who can guard positions one through four. With these players returning, that leaves the Heat seven reliable rotation players from this year’s team.
Who Needs To Be Brought Back?
As for the rest of the team, there are some impending free agents the Heat will have to look at. Dragic is the most notable free agent, and he should be the first priority for Pat Riley. Dragic’s shot creation for himself and others is crucial to how the team runs. And even though he’s 34, he’s coming off arguably his best season with the Heat. The other key free agents include Meyers Leonard, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr, and Udonis Haslem. Haslem is 40 and will be brought back if he decides to hold off retirement one more year for his locker room presence alone.
The Heat does have bid rights on the free agents mentioned above, so it’s possible to bring them all back, but it is unlikely. Crowder will be the most important of those players to bring back. His three-point shot is essential, and he’s also an above-average defender. Leonard would provide another big body and should be brought back if the price is right. Finally, Jones Jr. has been floated to many teams so his return is questionable at this point. But with Iguodala’s increasing age and limited offensive game, he could be a valuable player to bring back. Losing Leonard and Jones Jr wouldn’t hurt the team’s too much, but losing either of Dragic or Crowder would.
Who Can Be Added?
As mentioned earlier, if the Heat lost all their free agents they’d have seven reliable rotation players. But even if some players are re-signed, expect to see a new face or few when next season comes. For starters, the Heat will have the 20th pick in the NBA draft. If a point guard like Cole Anthony or Kira Lewis Jr. is still on the board, they’d be a great pick. Even if Dragic comes back, finding another young point guard who can score and create shots will be important. Adding another big body will probably be a target for Riley, as the size of the Lakers was arguably the biggest obstacle the Heat couldn’t overcome.
As for free agency, their targets will be dependant on who they re-sign. If either Dragic or Crowder leaves, the Heat will have enough cap space to target a replacement. A stretch four like Paul Millsap would be a good fit. In fact, the Heat have become one of the preferred landing spots for free agents. There won’t be a shortage of suitors if the Heat needs reinforcements. Getting to play for Erik Spoelstra alongside a player like Butler is an enticing option for veterans looking for a ring.
Looking At The Heat Offseason: It Looks Good
Regardless of how you look at it, the Heat is going to be back in the mix next season. Their best players only figure to get better, and having 24 million in salary cap space to round out the rest of the roster is a luxury. If there’s any organization NBA fans have come to expect consistency from, it’s the Heat. Riley is as good of a GM as there is and should be trusted to bring forth another title-contending team next year.
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