The Miami Heat are ahead of schedule. Just last offseason, Miami was without Jimmy Butler and was attached to bad contracts such as Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson. With virtually zero cap space, Pat Riley pulled off the unthinkable: Aquire a franchise player in Jimmy Butler, in a massive four-team deal that sent Whiteside to Portland, Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, and Maurice Harkless and a first-round pick to the Clippers. Meyers Leonard came to South Beach as part of the deal as well.
Near the trade deadline last season, Miami acquired former Finals MVP, Andre Igoudala, Jae Crowder, and Soloman Hill in a three-team deal that involved the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves. Memphis landed Justice Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson, as they cut Waiters, and shipped Johnson to Minnesota for Gorgui Dieng.
The Miami Heat, thanks to those two huge moves made the NBA finals as a 5th seed, as they beat T.J. Warren, Victor Oladipo, and the Pacers in four games in round one, back to back MVP, and the reigning DPOY in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in five games, and spoiled a Celtics versus Lakers Finals matchup, as they took care of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and the Celtics in six games to reach the Finals.
In the Finals, Miami had injuries to key players such as Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo. Jimmy Butler had a triple-double in game three without both of his best teammates, as he tallied 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists, which led to the un-probable win. In game five, he had another triple-double that led to a win, as he had 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Understaffed, out of gas, and going up against two of the top five players currently in the league today, the Heat lost the series in game six.
Which leads us to why you clicked on this article, what should Miami do going forward? The Heat is sitting pretty, as they have a top ten player in the game today, in Jimmy Butler, young studs such as Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and in the summer of 2021, they have a max slot opening up, where they can land a top free agent like Antetokounmpo, whos set to hit the market at that time.
But what about this season? What are moves Miami can make to reach the finals again next season? Can they improve, and still have room to go big whale hunting in 2021? Here’s my take on what the Heat could do this offseason that could bring them back to the finals, and set them up for success beyond next season.
First off, let’s explain some league-wide salary cap things before we get started. The salary cap for the 2020-21 NBA season is projected to rise to 115 million, after being at 109.1 million last season. The 115 million is just one shy of the projected 116 million. Miami will want to sign players to one-year deals to keep their flexibility in 21′, and if they so wish to be an over the cap team, they can resign Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and even Meyers Leonard and Derrick Jones Jr. if they want.
Step one for the Miami Heat this offseason is resigning Dragic and Jae Crowder to one-year deals that are good enough to lure them back. Dragic made 19,217,900 dollars last season. In my opinion, a deal no less than 20 million is not only what the Dragon deserves, but it’s what it will take to attract him to come back on a one year deal. Goran will have long term contract offers, but he loves Miami, and both parties want him back. A one year deal worth 20 million, which is the most he’s made in a year since being in the league, with last years 19.2 million dollar figure the highest salary he had attached to his five year, 85 million dollar contract before hitting the open market.
Crowder has also come out and said he wants to stay in Miami. He made just 7,815,533 dollars last season, as a one year deal worth about 10 million dollars should be enough of a pay raise for him to ignore all other offers he will receive, and come back and play for the team he wants to play for.
Step two for Miami in my opinion is to trade for Victor Oladipo. He has recently come out and said he wants to win, values success over money, and as the writing is on the wall, he wants out of Indiana. To come out of the deal with a young asset, or an extra pick in the pocket, Oladipo could pull the Anthony Davis card, and publically state that he won’t resign with the team; and request a trade, with of course a shortlist of teams he would like to be traded to, which will obviously have Miami.
Even in that situation, New Orleans didn’t panic and made sure they got the right amount of value for AD, and I expect the Pacers to do the same with Oladipo. A trade for Oladipo would cost, Kelly Olynyk (Who has a player option, but won’t opt out of 12 million dollars), Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and a lottery-protected 2022 1st round draft pick. Miami will land Doug McDermott in the deal along with Oladipo. Both players Indiana is sending to Miami is on just one-year deals.
Step three this offseason is signing the big man of Demarcus Cousins and making sure to resign Meyers Leonard, both to one-year deals. Boogie Cousins was in talks with Miami last season, before deciding to join the Lakers on a 3.5 million dollar deal. A one year “prove it” deal worth four million, which is more than what he made last season, and the interest he already had in Miami, added with an added wrinkle of the Heat being a championship-contending team now, should be enough to land the big man.
Meyers Leonard has accepted Heat culture potentially more than anyone Miami added last season, as he was a huge piece of the puzzle in the regular season when he was a starter, and even still on the bench when his minutes went down in the playoffs. Coming off of a four year, 41 million dollar contract, where his lowest salary was 9,213,483 dollars, and his highest salary was 11,286,517 dollars, a one year deal, worth somewhere in the middle of that at 9.5 million dollars should be enough for Leonard to stay in Miami, compete for a title, and be embedded in the culture.
After all of those moves, tradenba.com has Miami’s salary at just 767 thousand dollars under the tax. Since I was using baseline contracts with a clean 20 million, 10 million, 9.5 million, and four million straight up (which won’t happen) let’s assume all of those moves above makes Miami an over the cap team, but there’s still one more move to make, as Miami has a Mid-level cap exception available to them, that’s worth a little over 9 million dollars. What’s a mid-level exception? An “MLE” is a way teams over the cap can sign free agents from other teams, for more than the minimum salary.
So, which Mid-level exception player should Miami target, for their last move of the offseason (besides the draft)? I’m proposing a one year, nine million dollar deal to land shooting guard, Wesley Matthews, who made just 2,564,753 dollars last season, who has a player option to make 100 thousand more dollars next season but will probably decline it to try to make more money. An MLE deal is a huge pay raise for him, as he’d leave Milwaukee to take the money and still compete for a ring that puts things over the top for him. It would be a no brainer in my opinion.
So, there you have it. Miami signs five players to really solid one-year deals, with four of them being more annually than what they received last season, besides Meyers Leonard. They then trade three players such as Olynyk, Nunn, Robinson, along with a draft pick for the services of Victor Oladipo, and Doug McDermott, in a deal that I believe is the MAX the Pacers could get, with Miami potentially keeping Robinson depending on how Oladipo handles the situation. Fair, to more than fair one-year contracts, and a really good trade for Indiana.
Miami’s core roster now looks like this:
- PG: Goran Dragic
- SG: Victor Oladipo
- SF: Jimmy Butler
- PF: Jae Crowder
- C: Bam Adebayo
- PG: Tyler Herro
- SF: Andre Igoudala
- C: Meyers Leonard
- C: Demarcus Cousins
- SG: Wesley Matthews
- SF: Doug McDermott
- SF: KZ Okpala
What do you guys think? Is Heat Nation happy with this? Does these set of moves make Miami contenders for the title again next season? Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.