NBA

Why the Heat must be patient for six more months

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While watching their Eastern Conference rivals go from strength to strength this summer, the Heat have shown admirable patience, clinging to their core strengths in hopes of nabbing a star and refusing to give up the ‘one of those valuable assets for a player who could make them slightly, but not appreciably. , better.

But now, amid whispers from some impatient fans — and amid the Celtics adding a Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari here and the 76ers acquiring a PJ Tucker and a De’Anthony Melton there — the Heat must show not only ‘admirable patience, but extreme patience, a willingness to resist any urge to make a move he might regret.

And with Tyler Herro, it could get uncomfortable.

Our unsolicited advice: If there’s a power forward – heck, any player – available that would make you a bit better, but not potentially the best team in the East, don’t do it if it means handing out first-round picks that should be precious as gold.

Don’t do this if it means giving up Herro in a trade.

Here’s why: How would the Heat feel if they traded a first-rounder for Myles Turner, then a disgruntled star became available in February, and the Heat didn’t have the draft picks to make a competitive offer?

How would he feel if Miami traded a first-rounder for a good enough power forward, then Kevin Durant eventually told the Nets he won’t go to Boston — including the reported offer of Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a first-round pick – leading a Heat package of Herro, contracts and three first-round picks? (And who knows what Durant is thinking?)

If there’s a player who clearly takes your team from top level to championship – like Durant or Donovan Mitchell – jump on it. Dangle all of your available first-round picks.

But don’t, certainly not before the season, for a Jae Crowder or a Turner or a player that doesn’t make you think.”now it’s a championship team.

No championships are won in December or January. If the Heat can’t get Durant or Mitchell – and the odds are against both – then there’s no need to trade valuable assets for a player who might just be a modest improvement over Caleb Martin. at the forefront in Erik Spoelstra’s positionless lineups.

Find out what’s available before the trade deadline in February. New opportunities invariably surface in a long winter, the kind of trade deadline temptations the Heat have seized on in recent years with Tim Hardaway, Goran Dragic, Crowder and Victor Oladipo.

But if the Heat take this extremely patient approach, an uncomfortable decision looms: Because extending a player on his rookie contract makes that player virtually untradeable until the next offseason, keep in mind that giving Herro an extension lucrative before the mid-October deadline would eliminate the Heat’s most attractive realistic trading asset through next July.

What if the Heat extend Herro before the deadline and a star player asks for a trade in February, and the Heat don’t have the assets to acquire him because they extended Herro?

Now, let’s be clear: Herro deserves the overtime. His work ethic, exceptional offensive skills and team-oriented approach should be rewarded, and an extension to four years and around $100 million is warranted.

But extending it also removes Miami’s best commercial token from play in a league where we expect the unexpected.

What if a very good player suddenly requested a trade in January? Like Damian Lillard in Portland or Bradley Beal in Washington or Zion Williamson in New Orleans or De’Aaron Fox and Damontas Sabonis in Sacramento? (Let’s be clear, all of these players seem happy to be where they are.)

Do the Heat want to put themselves in a position where Herro would be off the table for a full season, or would a future first-round pick have been handed out for a modest improvement in power rotation?

It’s important to note that the Heat aren’t at risk of losing Herro if he rounds an extension. Because Herro could be “only” a restricted free agent in 11 months, Miami can match any offer for him next summer, like Phoenix did with DeAndre Ayton.

So if the Heat want to retain ultimate flexibility, tell Herro you love him. Tell him you appreciate him. Tell him that next summer you’re going to give him more money than he can spend in three lives. But also tell him that extending it will limit the Heat’s flexibility in a way that realistically sidelines the team for the next star that becomes available.

And I hope he will understand.

If he doesn’t, watch an angry, driven Herro try to prove to you every game why he still deserves over $100 million.

Even though this organization has made some uncomfortable choices over the years — like deciding to allow Dwyane Wade to walk into a contract dispute — I’m not sure the Heat will have the appetite to keep Herro waiting.

After all, the Heat extended rookie contract players without Herro’s resume, especially Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. The Heat extended Bam Adebayo even though he eliminated the potential to clear enough cap space to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo, who ended up making an extension with Milwaukee before hitting free agency.

So I’d be surprised if the Heat told Herro to hold out for another 11 months.

Do we recommend Heat to be patient forever, to wait for a star who may never arrive? Of course not.

But if the Heat can’t land a star, waiting until just before the trade deadline to upgrade your team seems reasonable and prudent. Give yourself more time to see what the All Stars become unhappy in October, November, December, January and early February.

And remember this: the regret of giving up products that could have been turned into an elite player would eclipse any fleeting contentment at using your best currency to acquire something that only improves your team incrementally.

This story was originally published July 28, 2022 4:34 p.m.

Barry Jackson has written for the Miami Herald since 1986 and has written the Florida Sports Buzz column since 2002.

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