They have missed the playoffs a few times since making the NBA Finals four straight seasons from 2011-14, but one thing that has remained constant is that the Miami Heat are always a tough team to face in the Eastern Conference.
This year, the Heat really proved that they are still championship contenders by claiming the 1-seed in the East during the regular season.
Finishing 53-29, Miami had their best regular season record since the 2013-14 season when they went on to reach the NBA Finals, giving their fans a lot of hope that this could be the year that they finally break through yet again.
While they did make the Finals in the 2020 NBA Bubble, many are quick to write this achievement off because of the circumstance of there being no fans and what not.
Regardless of how you feel about “The Bubble Season,” it still happened and still counts as an appearance in the NBA Finals for the Miami Heat.
Heading into the playoffs this year, Miami looked to be a favorite in the Eastern Conference after blowing past the Atlanta Hawks in the first-round. All year long, injuries had been a problem for the Heat and in the playoffs, injuries began catching up to them.
Kyle Lowry had been dealing with a hamstring issue, P.J. Tucker was constantly banged up and as the playoffs went on and wear and tear began to affect Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and even All-Star wing Jimmy Butler, who had been dealing with on-and-off again pain in his right knee.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat’s injury report continued to grow, as Tyler Herro was forced to miss some time with a groin injury, in addition to those that had already been dealing with injuries, heading into this matchup.
The Heat ultimately fell in seven games to the Boston Celtics, coming up one win short of reaching the NBA Finals for the second time in the last three seasons.
Now, team president Pat Riley and Miami’s front-office will head back to the drawing board trying to figure out how to capitalize on what is looking like a small championship window given all the talent in the Eastern Conference.
Going out and getting both Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker this past offseason did not seem to push this team over the edge in terms of championship talent, so there could be some massive moves and decisions made by the Miami Heat this summer.
What Happened To Duncan Robinson?
Making an impact both in the starting rotation and coming off-the-bench, Duncan Robinson continued to be one of the better three-point shooters in the league this season, ranking tied for seventh in made threes (232) and seventh in three-point field goal attempts (624). On the year, Robinson shot 37.2% from long-range, breaking his streak of back-to-back years eclipsing 40% shooting.
As the regular season went on and injuries began to pile up for the Heat, Robinson’s role began to change and he was placed on the bench in favor of Max Strus being elevated to the starting rotation.
In March, Duncan Robonson started seeing his minutes decline to under 20 minutes per game and in the postseason, he was barely utilized after the Heat’s first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Averaging 13.2 minutes per game and 7.2 points on 42.8% from three-point range in five games against the Hawks, Robinson only played in eight games the rest of the playoffs, averaging 11.6 minutes, 4.6 points and shooting 28.6% from three-point range.
Maybe Robinson’s lack of playing time in the playoffs is because the Heat felt like they had better options defensively, but overall, this is a very concerning sight for Miami given that they signed him to a five-year, $90 million deal ahead of the 2021-22 season.
He is guaranteed around $54.4 million over the next three seasons and then Robinson has an early termination clause in his contract for the 2025-26 season, with his contract for that season accumulating to about $19.9 million.
It is possible that Miami was just riding with the “hot hand” in Max Strus in the playoffs given some of Duncan Robinson’s struggles, but he is going to be the focal talking point for the Heat entering the offseason, especially since there are teams in the league that are looking to upgrade their three-point shooting on the wing.
Over the last three seasons now, Robinson has made the second-most three-pointers out of any player in the entire league with 752 made threes, trailing just Buddy Hield (815) for the league-lead in this span.
There is definitely value to be had with Robinson, which is why trade rumors will be tied to him with Miami potentially looking to make another big move. Do not count out Pat Riley moving assets to bring in another All-Star-like talent in the offseason, especially because the contract situations of Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro allow him to possibly do so.
Tyler Herro Possible Extension
Tyler Herro’s third season in the league was his best season yet, as the former 13th overall pick averaged 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shot 39.9% from three-point range in 66 total regular season games, 56 of which he came off-the-bench in.
As a result of his bench play, Herro was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year and will enter the offseason with just one year left on his rookie deal, making him eligible for an extension.
While he is eligible to be offered a five-year, $186 million deal, the Heat cannot afford this kind of deal given the contracts of Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. Many around the league are expecting the Heat to offer Tyler Herro a lot less money than a max-level contract.
There really is no comparable contract or player on the market right now to Herro, which makes this situation between the Heat and the league’s Sixth Man of the Year very intriguing.
On one hand, he proved to be the best bench scorer in the league this year and the Heat’s second-best scoring option, but on the other hand, is Miami really interested in paying him upwards of nine figures if they are still having doubts about his future?
The Heat love the production of Herro off-the-bench and they do view him as a core member of their roster, however, this front-office is not afraid to move players like Herro or Robinson for proven All-Star talents.
Given the season he just had, it will not be surprising to see Tyler Herro demand a lot of money, similar to what occurred with Duncan Robinson an offseason ago. With the Heat already owing a lot in guaranteed contracts though, a large deal like this may not be feasible for them and they may look to offer Herro something in the ballpark of $50 million to $60 million over three or four years.
The offseason trade market will play a massive role in any potential extension Herro possibly receives from the Miami Heat, especially since players like Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal will be on the Heat’s radar this offseason.
Little To No Room For Moves In Free Agency
As of right now, the Heat are projected to be about $11 million over the salary cap for the 2022-23 season and they are close to $13 million under the tax threshold, leaving them little room to work with in terms of free agency.
Ten players are currently under contract for next season, with Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Haywood Highsmith and Omer Yurtseven all having non-guaranteed clauses in their contracts.
Depth really proved to be key for the Heat this season and heading into the offseason, they are definitely going to be looking to keep the depth they have.
Victor Oladipo may demand a bigger contract and walk elsewhere, but Caleb Martin is someone the team would like to keep, as are veterans Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon if possible.
Keeping Oladipo with their non-taxpayer mid-level exception of $10.3 million is an option for the Heat, but this all depends on what kind of contract the former All-Star guard is seeking in the offseason, especially given that he played well in the playoffs.
Compared to landing Kyle Lowry and P.J. Tucker in free agency a season ago, this offseason will likely be relatively quiet for the Miami Heat when it comes to signing new talent.
The trade market is really the only place where the Heat will be able to add new talent to their roster, as the contracts of Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and even Bam Adebayo in some scenarios are moveable.
The Heat still look like a team that is lacking star power outside of Jimmy Butler, which is why Pat Riley and this front-office will evaluate all of their options in the offseason, leaving everyone but Butler on the table to play around with in mock trade scenarios.
Does Miami Keep Their Draft Pick?
This is something that has been asked time-and-time again in regards to the Heat simply because they are notorious for moving draft picks around.
The Heat have kept and utilized their first-round pick just three times since the 2016 NBA Draft and last offseason, they moved on from 2020 first-round pick Precious Achiuwa to acquire Kyle Lowry.
There is a possibility that the Heat keep their 27th overall selection in this year’s draft to continue adding young depth to their roster, but Miami has been successful in their search for undrafted free agents in the past and this first-round pick could be used in a potential draft night trade for them.
If Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro are to be on the move, it is possible that this first-round pick could be going along with them somewhere in a scenario where the Heat would be landing another All-Star or high-level talent.
Again, players like Bradley Beal and Donovan Mitchell are viewed highly in Miami’s front-office right now, but they could also look to make a move for a different high-level talent that is on a more reasonable contract, allowing the Heat to possibly remain below the tax threshold for the 2022-23 season.
Moving down in the draft a little bit to gather more future assets and draft picks is also advantageous to the Heat, especially since they currently only have eight draft picks through 2028.
Building for the future is not really something Pat Riley and the Heat have in mind right now, as they are looking to get back to the NBA Finals as soon as possible to contend for another title.
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