The Miami Heat have largely stood pat this off-season. Subtract P.J. Tucker and add 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, and Miami is bringing their roster from last season to this one. In a July episode of The Lowe Post, Jorge Sedano said that the Heat like their team and are willing to head into training camp without finding a replacement for P.J. Tucker.
After a trip to the 2020 NBA Finals, the Heat signed Moe Harkless and Avery Bradley and lost Jae Crowder, but otherwise made no changes. Harkless and Bradley both proved to be non-factors and were traded by the deadline. And Victor Oladipo’s season-ending injury in just his fourth game with the Heat dashed any hopes of competing in the playoffs.
Are the Heat headed for another disappointing season after failing to make any upgrades?
As I’ve said before, it’s puzzling that Miami apparently had no backup plan for the power forward position if and when P.J. Tucker left in free agency. Maybe Haywood Highsmith will exceed expectations and emerge into a player who can soak up minutes in the regular season. Darius Days, one of the Heat players on a two-way contract this season, has modeled his game after Tucker. Maybe he’ll be the latest diamond in the rough.
But Miami is counting a lot on unproven players to deliver. Max Strus and Gabe Vincent were great last season, but they both struggled their first year with the Heat in 2020-21. It’s possible that Highsmith and Days are both one year away from becoming quality rotation players on a good NBA team.
Of course, the Heat’s issues at the power forward won’t be as significant if Oladipo and Kyle Lowry improve this year. But the Heat also hoped for internal improvement two years ago — from Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn. That didn't pan out.
As they did in 2021, Miami should be ready to make trades if the season doesn’t go according to plan. Hopefully they’d work out better this time.