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State of the Heat: Looking forward to where the Heat will be a year from now

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The summer of 2014 won't be one that Heat fans will be favored to remember. So what position will the Heat be 12 months from now. Hot Hot Hoops joins SB Nation NBA for a Theme Day: 12 months from now.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It's been no secret that in the wake of LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers that President Pat Riley has aimed his sights on the summer of 2016 while maintaining a competitor in the Eastern Conference. Shortly after LeBron announced his decision to leave, it took a max deal to keep Chris Bosh around. But what happened next were a string and series of contracts that made it clear: the Heat will be major players in the free agency of 2016.

So when SB Nation NBA wanted to promote a new Theme Day around the idea of 12 months from now, it had us scratching our heads a bit. Why? Because it seems as though things are in place for a 2 year plan before another revamping of the roster.

So what will position will the Heat be in a year from now? Let's take a look at what the summer of 2015 will bring.

Under Roster:
Chris Bosh ($22.19m), Dwyane Wade ($16.12m [player option]), Luol Deng ($10.15m [player option]), Josh McRoberts ($5.54m), Chris Andersen ($5m), Mario Chalmers ($4.3m), Norris Cole ($3.2m), Udonis Haslem ($2.85m), Danny Granger ($2.1m [player option]), Shawne Williams ($1.35m [non-guaranteed]), Shabazz Napier ($1.29m), James Ennis ($845k [non-guaranteed], Tyler Johnson (contract unknown).

7 guaranteed contracts, 3 player options contracts, 3 non-guaranteed contracts.

Free Agents:
Justin Hamilton (restricted), Reggie Williams

Other:
The Heat do not own their 2015 First Round draft pick unless it is in the top 10.

So...

As with any prediction a year in advance, a lot of the decisions and direction of the future could very easily be altered by the success or failure of what happens in these next 12 months. And by clearly looking at the roster, it seems as though the Heat could easily bring back a similar roster for the following season.

So I've decided to paint the picture of the future of the Heat a year from now dependent on the answers to the following questions:

How good will Luol Deng be?
This is extremely important in both ways. Luol Deng is 29 years old and a terrific basketball player. It's no secret that he "settled" for his contract with the Heat. Pat Riley got him for exactly how much and how long he wanted. Deng was looking for upwards of $12 million per season. Here's the deal: if Luol Deng plays really really well, say 19 PPG, he could easily opt-out, seek more money and longer term deal somewhere else. Depending on how successful Deng is, the Heat could lose him (or sacrifice their 2016 dreams), or he could be just good enough to earn what he makes.

This could shape the state of the Heat 12 months from now depending on what Luol Deng wants to do with his future. I can almost guarantee you that Pat Riley would sacrifice a year to keep his 2016 plans alive - either finding a 1 year deal guy (not easy), or splitting that money among others. If Deng stays that year, the Heat remain relevant, competitive and in play for 2016 as planned.

What kind of free agents can Bosh and Wade attract?
There's no longer the lure of playing with the King, but Wade and Bosh helped attract Luol Deng -- and they are a good enough duo to keep Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers around. The Heat will be under the luxury tax and will get an exemption to spend even if Luol Deng doesn't opt-out. What kind of talent will want to play with them?

I think it's largely dependent on how they perform this year. Does Wade still have it? Is Bosh capable of being a number one option? Do the youthful players pan out to be contributors? The Heat need to be good because the lure of Chicago, Cleveland, and even Washington are going to be there. Winning is important. And with the Indiana Pacers slated to have a rough year, Miami must capitalize.

Here's some names on the FA list next year: Jeff Green, Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan, Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudemire, Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Rudy Gay, and plenty others. What can the Heat afford, and would any of these guys makes sense? This could change the future of the team.

Will Pat Riley do something special?
Much can change, but at this point, it's hard to predict that the Heat will be in any different position a year from now. It seems their sights are set on 2016, and barring a major shake-up from Riley that will be his plan. A year from now, hopefully the Heat are satisfied with their effort in the NBA Playoffs, and are looking to make a few roster tweaks to be more competitive the following season.

We're not going to be satisfied with anything that doesn't come close to winning the championship. That's what we're about. -Pat Riley

It would be unrealistic to expect the Heat to return to the NBA Finals again, and it would also be unrealistic to expect the Heat to make a splash in the roster a year from now. But, we have learned to never underestimate and count out Pat Riley. He's the one who suddenly traded away Eddie Jones from a team that went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005 to bring in Jason Williams, Antoine Walker and James Posey. If Riley seems the right play, he will pull the trigger.

And if he does, he will be more of a legend than he already is today.

The future may not be as special as the last 4 years were here in Miami, but that doesn't mean it can't be bright, exciting, and relevant. Probably more than anything, a year from now we will have a much better evaluation of whether LeBron James made the right decision to leave the 4-time Eastern Conference Champions to rejoin his hometown team.

Until then, we can only speculate.

For reals...
12 months from now, the sting of losing a 4-time MVP may be gone, but the effects of his departure will not.

12 months from now, Dwyane Wade will either have rejuvenated his career or buried the Heat with his deterioration.

12 months from now, Chris Bosh will be a top 5 paid player in the NBA.

12 months from now, the Heat will no longer be paying Mike Miller! Hey, that's good news!

For fun...
12 months from now, it's possible that Chris Andersen's beard will be to his bellybutton.

12 months from now, the Pacers still haven't beaten the Heat in the playoffs.

12 months from now, Luol Deng will be proficient at yelling at Mario Chalmers.

12 months from now, Wade's LiNings might be sold in stores.