After a quick exit from the playoffs in the first round in 2021, the Heat brought in a handful of hard-nosed players with league experience, completing a sign-and-trade deal for Kyle Lowryusing most of their mid-level exception on P.J. Tuckerand signature Markieff Morris on a minimum wage contract. At the same time, Miami has bet on young players like Gabe Vincent and Max Strus being ready for bigger roles after spending the 2020/21 season on two-way deals with the squad.
While not all of the Heat’s offseason moves have paid huge dividends — a neck injury cost Morris most of the season and he wasn’t in the playoff rotation — the strategy of the club was good overall. Lowry, Tucker, Vincent and Strus all played key roles in complementing All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and sixth man of the year Tyler Herrowhile other young people love Caleb Martin and Omer Yurtseven have a proven track record on minimum wage contracts.
Miami’s deep, well-rounded team won the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 regular-season record, then won two playoff series against Atlanta and Philadelphia. Unfortunately, by the time the Eastern Conference Finals began, the Heat’s roster was incredibly battered, with Lowry in particular limited due to a hamstring injury that sidelined him for eight playoff games. The club didn’t have enough in the tank to move past the Celtics, losing to Boston in a seven-game battle that went to the wire.
While the Heat didn’t get a title, you can argue that their roster was championship caliber, or at least very close to it. If a few games had gone a little differently, it may have been Miami and not Boston that represented the East in the NBA Finals. The task for the front office this offseason will be to figure out how best to keep the Heat at this championship level, and then find the missing piece that could help them rise to the top.
The Heat’s offseason plan:
The Heat have five players under guaranteed contract for 2022/23. Of those players, it’s safe to assume that Butler and Adebayo aren’t going anywhere. It’s less safe for Lowry, Herro and Duncan Robinson.
Lowry has always been a player whose value goes beyond his box-score numbers. He’s a talented defender who has a knack for taking control, and his offensive creativity helps him lead to baskets on which he isn’t credited with points or an assist. However, he turned 36 this year, his sparkling analytic numbers began to decline, and his hamstring issues turned him into a below-average rotation player in many of the Heat’s most important games this spring.
Based on his contract (two years, $58 million), Lowry may have negative value as a trade chip at this point, meaning the Heat will likely hang on to him as he’s still capable of provide more value on the ground than it would as a business asset. However, if Miami has the opportunity to acquire a younger backyard star and has to use Lowry as a salary piece, I can’t imagine they would hesitate to do so.
Robinson seems like a more likely offseason trade chip, since his 2022/23 cap number ($16.9 million) is more manageable than Lowry’s. As a high-volume three-point shooter who made 40.6 percent of his career attempts from beyond the arc, Robinson is a solid role player, especially during the regular season. But his defensive limitations were a problem in the playoffs, as he provided little value on the field when his shot didn’t drop consistently.
If the Heat use Robinson in an offseason trade, they will need to include at least one additional asset in the package to have a chance of acquiring an impact player. This asset is most likely a draft pick. Miami has the option to move their 2022 first-round pick (27th overall) and/or their 2023 first-round pick, as well as at least one future first-round pick (2027 at the earliest). One or two of those picks could be enough to sweeten the deal for most of the team’s realistic off-season trade goals.
While the Heat are likely to put those first-round picks on hold before making one of their inexpensive young rotation players available, it’s worth noting that Herro will enter a contract year and be eligible for an extension this offseason. . He was great in the regular season, but struggled in the playoffs, where his scoring average dropped eight points (20.7 to 12.6 PPG) and he only shot 22.9%. of his three points.
That playoff performance — and the fact that Herro still has plenty of room for improvement on defense — could give the Heat pause as they enter negotiations over a rookie ladder extension that could be worth more. of $100 million for four years. Pat Riley has long resisted dealing with Herro and I wouldn’t expect an abrupt flip-flop on that position this summer, but if the right player is available on the trade market, I don’t think Herro should be banned entirely – it’s possible that moving him now rather than investing heavily in his next contract would benefit Miami in the long run.
One or more of the four Heat players under non-guaranteed contracts – Strus, Vincent, Yurtseven and Haywood Blacksmith – could theoretically be added to a trade pack, but I would expect all four to be back. Strus and Vincent, in particular, are two of the Heat’s latest development successes and will be major boons next season, helping to offset the cost of high-priced veterans like Butler, Adebayo and Lowry.
After handling the power forward role admirably in his freshman year in Miami, Tucker has the option to opt out of his contract and become a new free agent. He and the Heat seemed to be doing well in 2021/22, so I wouldn’t expect Tucker to turn down his player option to jump ship, but turn down the option and sign a new one plus one contract (potentially with a slight increase) would probably be in his interest. As good as Tucker was last season, he’s 37 and could start showing real signs of decline soon, so this may be his last chance to sign for more than the minimum.
If the Heat re-sign Tucker at a price similar to his option and keep his first-round pick, he would still have about $13 million left under the luxury tax threshold to fill three or four remaining spots on the roster.
Victor Oladipo and Martin are candidates to return and fill a few of those spots on the roster, but negotiating a new deal with Martin could be tricky, as Miami only holds its non-bird rights. That means the Heat wouldn’t be able to offer him more than around $2.25 million for the 2022/23 season unless he’s willing to tap into the mid-tier exception to increase his offer. . Miami may decide that using some of the mid-tier exception to re-sign Martin is the best way to maximize MLE value, but if the team has that mid-tier money reserved for an outside target , Martin seems unlikely to return.
Since the Heat have bird rights to Oladipo, they have more flexibility to offer him a raise. Whether or not he returns will depend on how much interest he gets from rival suitors and perhaps Miami’s willingness to enter the tax, depending on what other actions are taken.
Situation of the salary cap
Note: Our salary cap numbers are based on the league’s latest projection ($122 million) for 2022/23.
- Jimmy Butler ($37,653,300)
- Bam Adebayo ($30,351,780)
- Kyle Lowry ($28,333,334)
- Duncan Robinson ($16,902,000)
- Tyler Herro ($5,722,116)
- Mychal Mulder (in both ways)
- smart javont (in both ways)
- Total: $118,962,530
Salary not guaranteed
- Max Strus ($1,815,677) 1
- Gabe Vincent ($1,815,677) 2
- Omer Yurtseven ($1,752,638) 3
- Haywood Blacksmith ($1,752,638) 4
- Total: $7,136,630
Restricted Free Agents
Two-Way Free Agents
- 27th overall pick ($2,209,920)
- Total: $2,209,920
Players eligible for the expansion
Note: These are players who are already eligible for an extension or who will become so before the start of the 2022/23 season.
- Tyler Herro (beginner scale)
Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Caps
- Dewayne Dedmon (capacity of $1,811,516): Early Bird rights
- Udonis Haslem ($1,811,516 capacity): bird rights
- Jordan Mickey (capacity of $1,811,516): non-bird rights 5
- Markieff Morris (capacity of $1,811,516): non-bird rights
- Victor Oladipo ($1,811,516 capacity): bird rights
- Dwyane Wade (capacity of $1,811,516): Early Bird rights 5
- Total: $10,869,096
Out of Season Ceiling Outlook
If we assume the Heat will keep all of their players on non-guaranteed contracts, they’d be at around $126 million for nine players, so they’ll definitely be operating above the cap. That would leave them about $23 million of wiggle room below the projected tax line ($149 million) for the remaining five or six spots on the slate.
If Tucker and/or Oladipo return and the Heat use much of their mid-tier exception, that wiggle room would quickly disappear, but the club certainly has the option to stay out of the tax if it’s a top priority. .
Ceiling exceptions available
- Intermediate level exception: $10,349,000 6
- Half-yearly exception: $4,050,000 6
- Commercial exception: $1,782,621
- Strus’ salary will be fully guaranteed after June 29.
- Vincent’s salary will become fully guaranteed after June 29.
- Yurtseven’s salary will be fully guaranteed after June 29.
- Highsmith’s salary will become partially guaranteed for $50,000 on July 1, with that partial guarantee increasing to $400,000 after the regular season opener.
- The cap stands for Mickey and Wade remaining on the Heat’s books from previous seasons as they weren’t waived. They cannot be used in a sign-and-trade agreement.
- These are projected values. If the Heat approaches or crosses the tax line, they may not have access to the Full Mid-Level Exception and/or Semi-Annual Exception and would instead be limited to the Taxpayer’s Mid-Level Exception ($6,392,000).
Salary and cap information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post.