BY RYAN MERARD
Exceeding expectations for many National Basketball Association (NBA) fans, the Miami Heat thrived as the underdog of the Orlando bubble and fought hard throughout the playoffs to reach the Finals. Even if they lost in a six-game series to the opposing Los Angeles Lakers , making the Finals during unusual circumstances should still be considered a major achievement for this franchise.
Now, it’s the offseason and the Heat have put themselves in the position to make major moves in hopes to better their team, or perhaps wait things out and run it back with the same team next season. Miami has vital players like Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder, who are unrestricted free agents, as well as valuable assets they can use to trade for other stars.
For the Heat, it should be a priority to resign Dragic. He ranked second for the Heat in scoring in the playoffs with 19 points per game, falling three points behind Jimmy Butler’s 22 points per game. Despite the fact that he is 34-years-old and coming off a torn plantar fascia that he suffered in the Finals, his skillset is not dependent on athleticism, so his production to the team is not likely to take a huge downfall. If anything, having him come off the bench as a sixth man can still be huge for the team.
In terms of trades and available free agents in this offseason, the Heat has an extremely wide range of options. One area that the Heat can improve on is their interior presence on the floor, as Bam Adebayo is the only big man that can consistently provide that on both ends. Once he leaves the court, the other big men being Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk do not supply as much rim protection and it has shown at times during the season.
In terms of trades and available free agents in this offseason, the Heat has an extremely wide range of options.
If a move had to happen right now, a potential trade target for the offseason could be LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge is a versatile big man who just came off a strong season averaging 19 points per game. Even with old age, he tends to stay healthy all throughout the season and he could be a great aide for Adebayo when it comes to holding down the paint.
The young core, which has had some remarkable moments in their postseason run, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo, should be almost untouchable during this offseason.They both can provide surges of energy when they are on the court and both impact the team in various ways. Over time, they will only continue to get better and could certainly become the centerpieces of this franchise in a few years.
The Miami Heat has shown signs of a future full of promise and a championship is soon to come. They are just in need of another star that will give them an edge over the star-studded teams of the western conference, such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers. Even with the value gained by their players through their most recent playoff run, it would be best to play the waiting game and set themselves up for greater opportunities in 2021.
Free agents for this offseason are not as notable as other players that may be available in the following year. For example, superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo becomes a free agent entering the 2022 season and Miami has been a significant contender for him. Antetokounmpo is a two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) that can give a load of scoring, rebounding and defense. Making a quick signing this year could prevent the Heat from being able to pursue Antetokounmpo as the max slot in cap space that would otherwise likely be taken up.
The Miami Heat has shown signs of a future full of promise and a championship is soon to come.
Other popular names in the offseason include Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Victor Oladipo and more. Signing all of their current free agents for numbers similar to their past contracts should be a priority for the Heat. This would allow them to keep the max slot they have open in their cap space, making it easier to attract superstars in the 2021 offseason.
Running it back with the same team gives the franchise another year to get better and build even more chemistry. Beautiful scenery in South Beach and a team that is destined to win would be hard for free agents to turn down, and once Miami is able to get that missing piece, another Larry O’ Brien trophy will soon be added to their franchise history.
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