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2022 NBA Offseason Preview: Miami Heat

After a quick exit from the first round of the playoffs in 2021 Heat brought in a handful of die-hard players with championship experience, completing a deal to sign and trade for Kyle Lowryusing most of their mid-level exceptions on PJ Tuckerand signing Markieff Morris to the minimum wage agreement. At the same time, Miami is betting on young players such as Gabe Vincent as well as Max Strus be ready for big roles after spending the 2020/21 season on bilateral deals with the team.

While not every Heat transfer during the off-season paid huge dividends — a neck injury cost Morris most of the season and he missed the playoff rotation — overall, the club’s strategy was good. Lowry, Tucker, Vincent, and Strus played key roles in the All-Stars expansion. Jimmy Butler as well as Bam Adebayo and sixth person of the year Tyler Herrowhile other young people love Caleb Martin as well as Omer Yurtseven proved their worth on minimum wage contracts.

Miami’s deep, well-balanced roster took the top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 53–29 regular season record and went on to win a pair of playoff series over Atlanta and Philadelphia. Unfortunately, by the time the Eastern Conference Finals began, the Heat’s roster was incredibly worn out, with Lowry especially sidelined with a hamstring injury that kept him out of eight playoff games. The club did not have enough reserves to get past the Celtics and lost to Boston in a seven-game battle that ended to the breaking point.

Although the Heat lacked a title, it could be argued that their roster was championship-level, or at least very close to it. If a couple of games had gone a little differently, perhaps Miami, not Boston, would have represented the East in the NBA Finals. The front office’s job this offseason will be to figure out how best to keep the Heat at that championship level and then find the missing piece that will help them come out on top.


Off-season plan Heat:

The Heat have five players with guaranteed contracts for the 2022-23 season. Of these players, it’s safe to assume that Butler and Adebayo aren’t going anywhere. For Lowry, Guerro and Duncan Robinson.

Lowry has always been a player whose value goes beyond his personal results. He is a talented defender who can take charge of the attack, and his offensive ingenuity helps him score goals for which he is not awarded points or assists. However, as he turns 36 this year, his analytical brilliance has begun to decline, and hamstring problems have turned him into a sub-average rotation player in many of the Heat’s biggest games this spring.

Based on his contract (two years, $58 million), Lowry may have negative value as a trading chip at the moment, meaning the Heat will likely cling to him as he is still capable of more value on the court. than he could. trading asset. However, if Miami gets the opportunity to acquire a younger backcourt star and is forced to use Lowry as a pay supplement, I can’t imagine they would hesitate to do so.

Robinson seems like a more likely off-season trading chip, as his 2022-23 ($16.9m) limit is more manageable than Lowry’s. As a highly accurate three-pointer who has made 40.6% of his career attempts from three, Robinson is a reliable role player, especially in the regular season. But his defensive limitations were a problem in the playoffs, as he was of little use on the court when his shots weren’t hitting regularly.

If the Heat use Robinson in the off-season, they will need to include at least one additional asset in the package for a chance to sign an influencer. This asset is likely to be selected in the draft. Miami has the option to move its 2022 first round pick (27th overall) and/or its 2023 first round player, as well as at least one future first round player (not before 2027). One or two of those picks could be enough to sweeten the deal on most of a team’s realistic offseason goals.

While the Heat will likely hang those first-round picks before providing any of their young, low-cost rotation players, it’s worth noting that Herro will have a one-year contract and be eligible for an extension at that time. off-season. He was great in the regular season, but he had problems in the playoffs when his average dropped by eight points (from 20.7 to 12.6 points per game) and he made only 22.9% of three-pointers.

That playoff performance — and the fact that Herro still has plenty of room to improve defensively — could put the Heat on pause as they enter talks for a rookie-scale extension that could be worth more than $100 million in for four years. Pat Riley resisted the idea of ​​trading Herro for a long time and I don’t expect that position to change dramatically this summer, but if there is a suitable player in the market, I don’t think Herro should be completely banned… it’s quite possible that he’s moving now rather than investing heavily into his next contract will benefit Miami in the long run.

One or more of the four Heat players with non-guaranteed contracts – Strus, Vincent, Yurtseven and Heywood Highsmith – could theoretically be added to a trading package, but I expect all four to return. Strus and Vincent in particular are two of the Heat’s latest developmental success stories and will be big deals next season, helping to offset the cost of expensive veterans like Butler, Adebayo and Lowry.

After excelling as a power forward in his first year at Miami, Tucker has the option to opt out of his contract and become a new free agent. He and the Heat seemed like a good match in 2021/22, so I didn’t expect Tucker to give up his player option to get off the ship, but will drop that option and sign a new one plus one contract (perhaps with a small raise) would probably be in his best interest. As good as Tucker was last season, he’s 37 years old and could soon start showing real signs of decline, so this could be his last chance to sign a contract beyond the bare minimum.

If the Heat re-sign Tucker at the same price as his option and keep their first round pick, they still have about $13 million in breathing space below the luxury tax line to fill the three or four remaining slots on the roster. .

Victor Oladipo and Martin are candidates to come back and fill a couple of those spots on the roster, but negotiating a new deal with Martin could be tricky since Miami only owns his Non-Bird rights. That means the Heat won’t be able to offer him more than about $2.25 million in 2022-23 unless they want to move to mid-range elimination to increase their offer. Miami may decide that using some mid-range elimination to re-sign Martin is the best way to maximize the value of the MLE, but if the team has mid-range money earmarked for an outside purpose, Martin is unlikely to return.

Since the Heat have the rights to Bird Oladipo, they have more flexibility to offer him a promotion. Whether or not he returns will depend on how much interest he gets from rival suitors and perhaps how willing Miami is to go on tax, depending on what other steps are taken.


The situation with the salary cap

Note. Our salary cap numbers are based on the league’s latest forecast ($122M) for 2022/23.

Guaranteed salary

Player Options

Command Options

Non-guaranteed wages

Restricted free agents

Bilateral free agents

Draft Pick

  • 27th overall pick ($2,209,920)
  • Total: $2,209,920

Players eligible for renewal

Note. These are players who are either already eligible for an extension or will become eligible before the start of the 2022/23 season.

  • Tyler Herro (novice scale)

Unlimited free agents / other restrictions

Off-season forecast

If we assume the Heat keep all of their players on non-guaranteed contracts, they will be worth around $126 million for nine players, so they will definitely go over the limit. This will leave them about $23 million of wiggle room below their projected $149 million tax line for the remaining five or six places on the list.

If Tucker and/or Oladipo return and the Heat use most of their mid-level elimination, that wiggle room will quickly disappear, but the club certainly has the flexibility to not pay tax if that is a top priority.

Exceptions to restrictions available

  • Middle-Level Exception: $10,349,000 6
  • Twice a year exception: $4,050,000 6
  • Trade exception: $1,782,621

Footnotes

  1. Strus’ salary will be fully guaranteed after June 29th.
  2. Vincent’s salary will be fully guaranteed after June 29th.
  3. Yurtseven’s salary will be fully guaranteed after June 29.
  4. Highsmith’s salary will be partially guaranteed of $50,000 on July 1, with that partial guarantee increasing to $400,000 after the first game of the regular season.
  5. The caps for Mickey and Wade remain in the Heat books from previous seasons because they weren’t discarded. They cannot be used in a sign and trade deal.
  6. These are predicted values. If Heat approaches or crosses the tax line, they may not have access to the full mid-tier exemption and/or biennial exemption and will instead be limited to the mid-tier taxpayer exemption ($6,392,000).

Salary and ceiling information from basketball insiders as well as RealGM was used to create this post.

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