As we’ve talked about before here, the Miami Heat have four rotation players who will become free agents Oct. 18 — Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr. and Meyers Leonard. But could the Heat find themselves out-bid in trying to re-sign some of those players?
Bleacher Report recently published a list of ambitious 2020 free agent targets for every team. Derrick Jones Jr. is its pick for the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards. The article lists Jae Crowder as the player for the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings. And Goran Dragic is its pick for the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic.
Quick sidebar: in case you wondered, the article had Danilo Gallinari as the “ambitious free agent target” for Miami. The Heat, of course, tried to trade for Gallinari in February. Talks broke down over the Heat’s desire to preserve 2021 cap flexibility and their unwillingness to remove lottery protections from their 2023 first-round pick, which the Oklahoma City Thunder own.
First off, I’d be shocked if Dragic signs with another team. The Heat are expected to offer him a large one-year contract in the range of his $19 million salary for this season. No other team is expected to offer him anything close to that.
But could the Heat’s desire to retain 2021 cap space prevent them from offering multi-year deals to Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr., who could provide wing depth for many teams? Of course, the NBA’s salary cap is expected to decline after the coronavirus-fueled drop in revenues. Many free agents — including those currently on the Heat — could decide to sign one-year deals in the hopes that more money will be available next offseason.
Another factor working in the Heat’s favor is that Jones already said that he wants to be in Miami. So has Crowder. At just 23 years old, Jones may be a more sought-out free agent than Crowder — even with Jones’ struggles shooting beyond the arc. (Crowder will turn 30 next month.)
And of course, how Crowder and Jones perform in the playoffs will affect how other teams view them. If either one of them has particularly good moments, other teams may bring offers that the Heat may not be willing to match.
All things to look out for as the NBA gets ready to resume the season.