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Should the Heat have signed T.J. Warren?

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald raised the possibility.

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Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Three Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald wrote about the Miami Heat’s decision to keep their roster intact after failing to trade for Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell yesterday — of course, with the exception of letting P.J. Tucker walk so as to avoid the hard cap.

And Jackson raises an intriguing possibility if “Miami had a mulligan.” He said if the Heat had known they weren’t going to trade for Durant, they could have offered the full $4.1 million bi-annual exception — or a bit less — to T.J. Warren, who signed with the Brooklyn Nets on a minimum, $2.9 million deal.

Yes, that same T.J. Warren who jawed with Jimmy Butler during a January 2020 game. And while Warren has essentially not played since the Bubble with a foot injury — when Butler and the Heat swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round — Jackson notes that he has the size and muscular physique to play power forward.

The Heat could have signed both Warren and Caleb Martin with two different exceptions and stayed under the tax line by signing Dewayne Dedmon to a minimum deal instead of offering him a $4.7 million salary for this season, Jackson said. Or Miami could have offered Dedmon that contract he signed, be hard-capped but have a better roster than they do now.

I found the Dedmon contract odd. The backup center played well to start last season, even filling it admirably as a starter when Bam Adebayo suffered his thumb injury that required surgery. But he appeared to run out of gas as the 82-game season wore on. He then became a fringe rotation player in the playoffs, with Tucker at times playing as the backup five.

Why, then, offer him a two-year deal starting at $4.7 million? It could be that the Heat overpaid Dedmon so that he becomes more usable in a trade. The Heat signed Meyers Leonard to a $9.4 million salary for the 2020-21 season after he lost his rotation spot during Miami’s run to the Finals in the Bubble. The Heat then used his salary to trade for Trevor Ariza.

It’s one thing to go into the season without a clear answer at the power forward. If the Heat don’t address this issue by the trade deadline, yes, it’s clear they should’ve signed Warren.