The 2022 NBA Free Agency moratorium was lifted Wednesday at 12:00 a.m. ET, allowing teams to formalize their respective free agency signings and trades. It also allowed restricted free agents to sign offer sheets with their previous or new teams, although the latter invites a 48-hour window for their previous team to match.
About 30 minutes after the moratorium was lifted, the Miami Heat signed restricted free agent Caleb Martin to a three-year, $20.5 million deal. It used its mid-tier taxpayer exception — starting at $6.5 million in 2022-23 — to seal the deal to avoid triggering the hard cap.
But the Heat still reside in a precarious position as a power forward.
Martin and rookie Nikola Jovic are the only two 4s on the list; PJ Tucker signed with the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the offseason while Markieff Morris is still without a team in unrestricted free agency. Jovic also doesn’t have much experience at 4 years old.
With trade rumors surrounding Kevin Durant and, to a lesser extent, Donovan Mitchell and Kyrie Irving – the free agent market has all but frozen, as teams wait for results from where they meet.
Pat Riley is likely to make another move for a power forward — via free agency or the trade market — to place Martin like a spark plug on the bench. But the market is not big now that the TPMLE has been used.
The most optimal route to completing one’s starting five has always been the trade market – but for whom and at what price? We ultimately won’t know until the dominoes start falling, which could be a while.
Thus, Martin is de facto the starting 4 of Miami. But assuming he won’t be that player in October – who is or will be then? With free agency nearly a week old, let’s dive into some candidates!
Here are a few candidates currently on the list — although there aren’t many!
Thin: Alright, I know what you’re thinking. It’s an option – but it’s probably one of Miami’s last resorts. I highly doubt they’ll throw a rookie into the starting lineup unless the market is completely against them. Head coach Erik Spoelstra would (probably) start Martin before Jovic, so rule that option out.
Thin: See Jovic. I’m listing it because it’s an option because it’s on the list; it is not realistic, however.
Thin: Could Butler start at 4 with three more shooters/ground spacers surrounding him and Adebayo? It was effective last season – Miami sported a plus-7.6 (89th percentile) NET rating in the regular season, scoring 119.7 points per 100 possessions with a 55.0 effective field goal percentage, per Cleaning The Glass. In the playoffs, it was a plus-4.1 on 537 possessions. The roster’s success will depend on who surrounds Butler-Adebayo’s frontcourt, although I don’t expect it to be the first complex of the regular season with Miami’s lack of an offensive point defender and , more importantly, Butler’s age and stature. .
Thin: Whether next to Omer Yurtseven or Dewayne Dedmon, Adebayo could start at 4 alongside a bigger body. I don’t think that’s the route Miami has taken, unless it’s for a spacer over the break that’s good on the baseline. It could be, say, Myles Turner – but, again, that includes a trade. And Adebayo at 4 next to Yurtseven or Dedmon did not shape good results. I’ve been open to expanding Miami, so that’s a thought! I don’t think that’s likely.
Possible free agents:
If Miami wants to sign free agents, that would probably only be the minimum to avoid the hard-cap. It is important to take this into account. What are the options?
The Marcus Aldridge:
Thin: Miami has been interested in Aldridge at several points in his career, but has yet to land him. Could they turn around for Aldridge again?
Thin: Melo in Miami? Is this a real possibility? He’s started more than five games just once in the past four seasons and I doubt he’ll buck that trend in Miami. Although Anthony can provide a fascinating punch off the bench; the 38-year-old’s only concern is his defence. And rightly so.
Thin: Could Morris return to Miami? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, especially at a minimum. He averaged 7.6 points, 2.6 rebounds on 47.4 percent shooting last season; his season was limited to 17 games due to the Nikola Jokic incident and never really had a chance to make his mark on the rotation. It is my favorite option from this list.
Thin: He’s the only free agent I have here from Tucker’s original backup roster. Here is what I said before:
Paschall is the clear wildcard on this list. He only played 58 games for the Utah Jazz a year ago, averaging 5.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game. His tally stats have plummeted due to his declining role, but he posted a best true shooting efficiency of 61.2 a year ago and was a good rotational player for Golden State from 2019-21.
Paschall is also close with Donovan Mitchell – could they reunite in 305 if the situation arises? **shrug** We’ll see what happens.
John Collins, Atlanta Hawks
Thin: Here is what I originally wrote about Collins:
Collins has been on the trading block for what seems like several years now, and Miami would be a perfect fit for the 24-year-old. He’s expanded his game year over year and improved as a defenseman, averaging 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.0 blocks on 52.6/36.4/79.3 shots. Collins has four years and $102 million remaining on his contract, so it would take Duncan Robinson, picks and maybe another asset to nab Collins. But he would be a good fit next to Adebayo in the long run.
Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings
Thin: Another candidate previously on the list. Here is what I originally wrote on Barnes:
Barnes might be PJ Tucker’s best replacement. Sacramento drafted Keegan Murray No. 4 overall and Barnes, 30, will be in the final year of his $18.4 million contract — meaning anything but his time in Sacramento could be coming to an end. Barnes is an effective shooter and ground spacer, but can also take opposing guards/wings out of the dribble and is an underrated playmaker. His defense has dropped slightly, but it remains tenable.
Jae Crowder, Phoenix Suns
Thin: Crowder-in-Miami reunion rumors have risen and fallen over the past few days. Durant aside — he’s the biggest of the big fish — he’s probably the next best option behind Collins or Barnes, though I’m not surprised if he ends up in South Beach eventually. While not as attractive, it fits well and is only listed for $10 million this year on an expiry.
MY prediction based on nothing at all: Collins or Barnes