It was only a matter of time.
The Brooklyn Nets began 2022 Free Agency in peril; Kyrie Irving reportedly wanted out before he didn’t, soon followed by Kevin Durant’s bombshell trade request that took everyone — yes, everyone — by storm.
That all but shutdown the free agency, for the most part, with teams awaiting to see if and when that franchise-altering domino fell before taking action with the rest of their offseason plans.
Spoiler: It didn’t.
On Tuesday, the team announced that Durant, head coach Steve Nash and owner Joe Tsai will move forward with their partnership and remain together with the time being.
Along with the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, the Miami Heat were very openly one of those teams involved in the Durant sweepstakes. With that situation settled, what are a few things the Heat should be prioritize with less than two months until opening night?
Let’s go over a laundry list below (not in order):
1. Figure out if they want to trade for Donovan Mitchell or not:
At the very beginning of the Heat offseason, I detailed why I think it was unlikely the Heat could complete a trade for Mitchell.
It became less likely with the Rudy Gobert trade — where Danny Ainge and the Utah Jazz extracted five first-round picks (six if you include rookie Walker Kessler) — from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the 7-foot center. Pat Riley and Danny Ainge are also very good friends that always get along...NOT!
That adds another less-than-ideal obstacle to navigate from a negotiation standpoint.
The Heat were rumored to be more in on Durant than Mitchell, so you can’t help but wonder if the tides change in the coming days. But you can’t dismiss how linked Mitchell is to the New York Knicks, the clear frontrunner for him.
The Heat have two tradeable picks (2023, 2028) outright with three swaps (2024, 2027, 2029) that it could theoretically trade. And it would be counterintuitive to wait and feel out the market as training camp nears. Riley probably doesn’t want to lose out on a star player to the Knicks of all teams, so it would be best to figure out that situation sooner rather than later.
2. Extend Tyler Herro?
The ripple effect of not trading for Mitchell? Pivot to possibly extend Tyler Herro.
As long as he’s not extended — he’ll obviously be a (desirable?) trade chip in a bigger deal. Herro’s on an expiring contract for $5.7 million and is set to enter restricted free-agency next offseason if no extension occurs.
The downside of extending him, from Miami’s perspective, would be that it would be much harder to trade Herro — Miami’s most valuable trade asset outside of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. That’s because of the Poison Pill provision, making its task for matching salary in a potential trade (especially if they’re over the luxury tax threshold) all the more difficult until the 2023 offseason.
The aforementioned provision means that if it were to trade Herro before his extension kicks in place (starting in 2023-24), his incoming trade value (financially) to the team he traded to would be his 2023-24 salary figure, while his outgoing figure from Miami’s perspective would be his $5.7 million in 2022-23.
Thus, it would be practically impossible to hypothetically trade him if he was set to make, say, $20-$25 million — a figure he is likely due for the first year of his extension.
If Miami did extend him, it wouldn’t have much — if any — desire to trade him anyways. But if a star player did become available at the deadline or before the new league year began, Miami wouldn’t be able to facilitate much of a trade without parting with one of Butler, Adebayo or Kyle Lowry.
The organization has until Oct. 18 to extend Herro, if they choose to. They can wait out the process, but there’s obvious risk to that.
By extending him now, it would 1.) alleviate any (potential) tension that could arise between the two parties if no extension took place and 2.) prevents Miami from having to match a bigger offer sheet from another team to retain him in restricted free agency.
And extending now for $25 million per could look much better (from the team’s perspective) in future seasons with the impending cap spike with the new TV deal.
3. Navigate final roster spot:
With Udonis Haslem returning for a 20th season, the Heat will now have 14 players on standard contracts with both of its two-way spots taken up — so it will have one more roster spot to work with.
They clearly don’t have to act upon it right away. It might not have to at all because of where it lies with the luxury tax. But exploring options for it is something to at least consider.
Last year, Miami entered the season with one remaining roster spot that was eventually snatched by Caleb Martin, who was converted from a two-way to a standard deal midseason. Could Marcus Garrett and/or Darius Days leverage their play into the final standard contract slot, should it be open? It’s a possibility. That would open up a two-way for Orlando Robinson, Jamaree Bouyea or another player stashed within the Heat organization.
Would Miami sign another player in free agency to that spot for the minimum? While it might not seem very likely at this point, it’s still a possibility. There’s ways to fill it if the brain trust chooses to. What happens with it isn’t super important right now, but it’s something to ponder as the season ages.
4. Contemplate its frontcourt rotation:
One of Miami’s first moves this offseason was re-signing Dewayne Dedmon to a two-year deal worth approximately $9 million.
Identical to where it was a year ago, Miami’s rotation at center will be Bam Adebayo with Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven behind him off the bench. Though it’s fair to question whether Yurtseven will overtake Dedmon’s spot in the rotation.
Dedmon averaged 6.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season; Yurtseven averaged 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. Both were two of Miami’s top rebounders, but were both played off the floor in certain situations. The former suffered a knee injury in December and wasn’t as impactful thereafter, while the latter was relishing his first NBA action.
Yurtseven took advantage of the opportunities presented to him, especially when both Dedmon and Adebayo were out due to injury. The 24-year-old improved his playmaking, screening, drop defense and interior scoring the more he got reps, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets more run this year.
Nevertheless, how the frontcourt rotation — as well as the rest of the rotation — is configured will be something to monitor before and throughout 2022-23.
5. Uh....who starts at the 4?
Speaking of frontcourt rotations — that leads me to my next point: Who’s the starting 4?
Just like I screamed into the clouds multiple times during the season: P.J. Tucker was invaluable to this organization.
From a chemistry and team-building standpoint, his departure stings. It opens up a gaping hole at the starting power forward spot that needs to be filled — who will step up to the plate?
Miami’s top in-house options are Caleb Martin and Jimmy Butler, assuming the latter starts with Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Max Strus/Duncan Robinson manning the other three guard/wing spots. Going back to point No. 3 — Miami could re-sign a temporary 4 (i.e. Markieff Morris) to start or toggle between Butler, Martin, Haywood Highsmith or Nikola Jovic.
Either way, the Heat will likely be hunting for one on the trade market and have that issue solved by the trade deadline. But for who, and at what cost? That’s to be determined, but the organization needs to (and ultimately will) have a plan by Oct. 19.
6. Figure out the reasoning for Jimmy Butler’s extensions:
Okay, silliness aside, nothing about this should be prioritized or discussed about at all. But it wouldn’t be a true 2022 offseason Heat discussion without even mentioning Jimmy’s extensions, right?
No, no, not a contract extension.
But hair extensions.
Jimmy Butler with the extensions— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 27, 2022
(via @Cbrickley603) pic.twitter.com/ZtgqnKuJBD
Jimmy Butler's hair transformation— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) July 28, 2022
(via @jimmybutler/ IG) pic.twitter.com/kUuRhLwT4A
I won’t lie, they don’t look as bad as people initially made it out to be, at least to me. It just came by surprise — but, hey, Jimmy does what Jimmy wants! Good for him! I wonder if he carries this new look into the season.
P.S. The fact that this was one of the biggest Heat-related stories this offseason was a direct indictment of how bad and boring this offseason has been so far. That’s all.
P.P.S. Is he trying to have a similar hairstyle to Jae Crowder now that he might be the starting 4? If so, mission successful!
7. Internally develop!
Last, but certainly not least: Barring a trade, the Heat are going to be...wait for it....RUNNING IT BACK™!!
That’s the consequence of what’s taken forth this offseason. It can still improve the team. But the Heat lingered for so long in the Durant-Mitchell-Irving sweepstakes because it clearly didn’t want to run it back. It wanted to nab the big fish. But it didn’t.
That’s where internally developing becomes even more important. I don’t need to second-guess whether or not this organization is good at harnessing and developing talent from within. I also don’t need to point out that every team and player needs to improve leaguewide each offseason.
But, nevertheless, it’s even more important with this crop if they’re choosing to...wait for it....RUN IT BACK™!!
The Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Sixers, Raptors and, believe or not, Nets improved their roster around the edges. Miami didn’t, at least not externally. To remain a contender, it’s paramount that each individual player from Kyle Lowry (from a conditioning perspective) to Oladipo to Herro to Yurtseven to Days need to improve internally.
Likewise, it’s important for them to improve collectively as a unit. Its big three — Lowry, Adebayo and Butler — played just 44 of their 100 possible games (reg. season + playoffs) in 2021-22. Oladipo played in 23 combined games. It makes winning 53 games and securing the top-seed in the deeper conference all the more impressive, and even a bigger testament to how good of a coaching job Erik Spoelstra did.
It’s impossible to predict what will happen in an 82-game regular season. But if Miami wants to remain a contender with its current roster, internal growth becomes very important.
And there might not be an organization that manufactures that more than the Heat and that #HEATCulture™.