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Miami Heat 2023 Free Agency: Who stays, who goes?
Let's predict which Heat free agents re-sign, and which depart.
We are now one day until the start of the 2023 NBA Free Agency period!
The Miami Heat are full throttle in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, or whatever it is at this point. Miami projects to be a second-apron team and projects to have $176.6 million in active cap with 10 players on the roster entering the new league year, which begins July 1. Thus, the Heat is not able to sign free agents with their non-taxpayer mid-level ($12.4M) or taxpayer mid-level ($5.0) exceptions or sign anyone via sign-and-trade since that would trigger the $172 million hard cap, which it would not be able to exceed in any circumstance.
But before they deal with the headache of how to improve this roster from the outside, they have to make some interesting in-house personnel decisions on who, and who not to bring back for the 2023-24 season.
Well, technically with the newly-signed CBA, the Heat could’ve already negotiated with their own free agents. But nothing’s become official yet—so let’s predict who that might be!
Victor Oladipo (Note: He already opted in)
2022-23 stats (42 games): 10.7 PPG | 3.0 RPG | 3.5 APG | 1.4 SPG | 39.7 FG% | 33.0 3P% (5.0 3PA) | 51.3 TS% | 10.6 PER
Skinny: Oladipo suffered a knee injury in the preseason that held him out of the start of the regular season and didn’t return until mid-December. This 2022-23 season was rocky for Oladipo, who, unfortunately, suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon in Game 3 of Miami’s opening-round series against Milwaukee. He will be out for the majority, if not all the 2023-24 season. But he could be a valuable piece in its guard rotation if he’s able to return by the season’s end.
Haywood Highsmith (non-guaranteed — $1.9M)
2022-23 stats (54 games): 4.4 PPG | 3.5 RPG | 0.7 SPG | 43.1 FG% | 33.9 3P% (2.0 3PA) | 51.7 TS% | 8.5 PER
Skinny: Highsmith, who signed a three-year deal in March of 2022, is entering the final year of a non-guaranteed deal. His role wasn’t very consistent this season, but was impactful whenever he was on the floor. He used his 7-foot wingspan to disrupt opposing guards and wings, corral (important) rebounds and hunt in passing lanes. The numbers might not pop out because of his uneven role, but Highsmith proved he belongs on an NBA roster. Miami has until July 15 to guarantee his $1.9 million salary for 2023-24.
Verdict: His contract becomes guaranteed; he stays
Restricted Free Agents:
2022-23 stats (31 games): 3.7 PPG | 4.1 RPG | 52.8 FG% | 56.5 TS% | 13.4 PER
Skinny: Robinson joined Miami in Summer League last year before inking a two-way contract ahead of the 2022-23 season. Amid the struggles of Dewayne Dedmon, Robinson was inserted into the rotation and gave quality minutes in an abbreviated sample. Miami extended the qualifying offer to him this week and is expected to be a part of the Heat’s Summer League team, which begins July 3 in the California Classic. The Heat has to decide whether or not to promote him to a standard contract, though they now have the luxury of having three two-way players on their roster, not just two.
Verdict: He stays, (eventually) signs for minimum
2022-23 stats (18 games): 5.4 PPG | 2.9 RPG | 56.1 FG% | 35.0 3P% (1.1 3PA) | 64.7 TS% | 16.5 PER
Skinny: Cain, a springy, rangy wing, also inked a two-way contract after shining in Summer League for the Heat last offseason. Cain’s expected to partake once again in Summer League this year. He was also extended the qualifying offer, thus making him a restricted free agent that Miami expects to re-sign (speculation, no sourcing). I wouldn’t be surprised if he leverages his way to a standard contract if the Heat has at least one open roster spot—perhaps because of, say, a (big) trade or two. I was a big fan of Cain’s athleticism on the glass and how he consistently moved off-ball, and I’m interested to see how he’s come along as a defender and floor spacer in 2023-24.
Verdict: Re-read Orlando Robinson’s
2022-23 stats (9 games): 4.4 PPG | 2.6 RPG | 59.3 FG% | 42.9 3P% | 67.5 TS% | 16.7 PER
Skinny: Yurtseven, who signed on the final day of the regular season in 2020-21, has not been extended the qualifying offer yet. If he’s not extended the offer, he will become an unrestricted free agent. The 7-footer only appeared in nine games for the Heat this season after missing the first 4-5 months with ankle surgery, stemming from an injury he suffered at the start of the preseason. Yurtseven’s shown flashes of an impactful backup big because of his size, scoring ability inside of 15 feet and activity on the glass while even flashing brief playmaking chops from the mid-to-high post. Yurtseven wants playing time regardless of where he goes, and I’m not sure that will be with Miami.
Verdict: He leaves in FA
Unrestricted Free Agents:
2022-23 stats (21 games): 7.7 PPG | 5.7 RPG | 1.9 APG | 38.8 FG% | 29.7 3P% (4.8 3PA) | 53.5 TS% | 12.3 PER
Skinny: Love joined the Heat midseason on the prorated bi-annual exception after getting bought by the Cleveland Cavaliers in mid-February. He was an impactful locker room presence and appears to be well-liked—dare I say, Loved?—within the organization. Love wasn’t the most efficient player, nor was he the best defender, but helped Miami size up when it needed to in the postseason. He also threw beautiful outlet passes and was a good screener and connector offensively. The Heat don’t have Love’s bird rights, so he’s eligible to re-sign for a max starting salary of $3.7 million (without dipping into any exception, which it really can’t). Unless a team’s willing to offer their NTMLE ($12.4M) or TPMLE ($5M), I foresee Love returning to Miami on an inexpensive contract.
Verdict: 2-year, $7.7 million deal with Heat
2022-23 stats (80 games): 11.5 PPG | 3.2 RPG | 2.1 APG | 41.0 FG% | 35.0 3P% | 55.7 TS% | 10.8 PER
Skinny: Among the Heat’s seven free agents, Strus has had the most smoke surrounding him regarding his potential departure. Teams with cap space—such as the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers—could throw money beyond the MLE to nab Strus; it was reported by NBA insider Marc Stein Wednesday that the Pacers could be gearing up to offer him a three-year, $48 million deal. Despite his poor Finals performance, Strus has netted 37.1 percent of his 3-pointers on 6.2 long-range attempts in his three seasons with Miami, developing into one of its most important shooters in recent memory. Go get that bag, Max!
Verdict: Considering the hat might already be with the bag, he signs with Indiana for similar money.
2022-23 stats (68 games): 9.4 PPG | 2.1 APG | 0.9 SPG | 40.2 FG% | 33.4 3P% | 53.3 TS% | 9.0 PER
Skinny: Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported Wednesday that Miami and Vincent have a mutual interest in a return. Miami has bird rights with Vincent (and Strus), so they could theoretically re-sign him to any amount. But given where it’s at in the tax, I expect the 6-foot-3 guard to get around $10-15M annually for at least 2-3 years with a possible option year. Vincent might be an inconsistent threat from beyond the arc, but his in-between scoring punch and point-of-attack defense are crucial, especially since he’s supplementing any production lost by an aging Kyle Lowry.
Verdict: 3-year, $39 million deal with Heat
2022-23 stats (15 games): 6.5 PPG | 4.3 RPG | 62.7 FG% | 33.9 3P% | 65.9 TS% | 16.4 PER
Skinny: Zeller, along with Love, joined Miami in late February in the buyout market. His productivity behind Adebayo remained steady in the regular season, albeit a small sample, before it came crashing down in the postseason when Zeller drastically underperformed. I’ve seen Miami’s brass hand out weirder contracts to centers (i.e. Hassan Whiteside, Meyers Leonard and Dedmon last offseason), but with the new CBA, nobody should expect Zeller to make more the minimum if the Heat decides to re-up with him. But I don’t expect the two to partner together anymore anyways.
Verdict: He leaves in FA