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Heat decision looms on Winslow

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Winslow could become a restricted free agent next year.

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Justise Winslow, the Miami Heat’s 2015 first-round pick, will be a restricted free agent next year. The Heat could avoid that if they offer Winslow an extension before the start of this season, provided Winslow accepts the offer. Miami did so with Josh Richardson last year.

According to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the Heat haven’t told Winslow whether they will make an offer this off-season. Jackson also said that Pat Riley hasn’t offered the former Duke player in any trades.

Allowing Winslow to enter restricted free agency comes with risks, even though Miami will have the opportunity to match any offers. For one, the Heat could commit a lot of money to Winslow that they regret later. Miami matched a four-year, $50 million Brooklyn Nets offer for Tyler Johnson in 2016. Two years later, that decision looks like a mistake.

Jackson cites a rival general manager who said that he could see Winslow getting a contract starting at $9 million or so. Would Miami want to spend long-term money on Winslow, preventing them from having cap space in 2020 to sign a star free agent?

Of course, if the Heat commit to tanking in the hopes of drafting their franchise player, signing Winslow to a long-term deal wouldn’t be as much of an issue. That’s how the Heat got Dwyane Wade. Riley has failed in his last two attempts to sign star free agents — Kevin Durant in 2016, Gordon Hayward last year. Miami has three pretty good young players in Winslow, Richardson and Bam Adebayo. They’re missing a superstar, and they need to find a way to get one — whether by trade, the draft or free agency.