Building A Contender: How Miami Heat Should Approach Free Agency?

Commentary5 months ago4 min readJohn Jablonka

It’s almost free agency time! One of the most fun, exciting times for NBA fans — potential blockbuster trades, big-time free agents changing teams, and so many decisions that your team can make.

Or it could be all teams keeping their free agents and the biggest transaction is someone one on a mid-level exception.

And I feel like it could go either way with the Miami Heat. It’s hard to predict what Pat Riley and the front office will do because they have shown time and time again that they can make things happen out of nothing.

It’s quite easy to say the Heat were one shot away from making the finals despite dealing with a bunch of injuries, so they shouldn’t make any drastic changes, right?

Well, a team that’s contending should always make whatever changes that will improve their chances of winning a ring. That could mean a lot of things, though.

So, here are some of my thoughts on some things the Heat need to address.

It was clear from the playoffs what the Heat needed to improve on. They needed someone who can create for themselves on all three levels and be able to create for others. They also needed some wing depth.

Jimmy Butler needed someone to help with the scoring load because, in the conference finals, it was all Butler doing Butler things. But there shouldn’t be a time where you need him to have these performances to even be in the game.

To be honest, before the playoffs and throughout the season, I thought Tyler Herro was going to take care of that scoring load. I thought he was going to replace what Goran Dragic provided in the bubble. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for whatever reason.

And with Kyle Lowry not being fully healthy, Victor Oladipo still getting back to 100 percent, and the rest of the roster won’t create for themselves like that.

So, one of the main needs is getting a bucket and we all know the regular two names: Bradley Beal and Donovan Mitchell. It’s a tradition now where Beal ends up in some rumors that he may leave the Washington Wizards.

Surprisingly, in the last couple of days, there were many rumors and reports regarding Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant potentially getting moved.

These are the type of players that you should, within reason, do anything to get them. Pairing any of those scoring guards with a duo like Butler and Bam Adebayo raises the floor and the ceiling of this team.

Fast forward a couple of days later and these caliber players are becoming less and less likely to get, even by Riley’s standard. Though, I can never rule anything out as long as the Heat have Riley and Andy Elisburg working their magic.

But if those moves aren’t there, the Heat need to pivot to still improve their chances to win. At the time of writing, it has been reported that PJ Tucker could be going to the Philadelphia 76ers and Victor Oladipo may not be coming back. Those are two key holes that the Heat would need to fill.

Even if you ignore those big names, the Heat still have options that could make this team better.

The biggest need is obviously additional scoring alongside Butler. The offense without Butler was horrendous — per Cleaning the Glass, the Heat had a 98.9 offensive rating with Butler off the court.

But they can still make some noise even if they don’t exactly address that. They could run it back with the same core with slight improvements.

There is still a chance that Duncan Robinson could get you a quality 4. Or there could be some good mid-level guys like Otto Porter Jr, and Kyle Anderson. And the Heat also have the bi-annual exception.

There are moves to be made to improve around the margins and maybe that’s all that they need.

When thinking about this team going forward, I think about Butler’s window. The time to win is now and they were damn close to making the finals despite all the circumstances.

There will hopefully be some internal improvements to Herro, Adebayo, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus. You still have Butler who’s arguably a top 10 player. Although Lowry is going to be a year older, it’s still likely he will be effective.

And now you add players like:

  • Kyle Kuzma
  • TJ Warren
  • Garry Harris
  • Harrison Barnes
  • Mo Bamba
  • Marcus Morris Sr
  • Otto Porter Jr
  • Kyle Anderson

Also, hopefully, I’ll try to go through some of those guys’ film and see how they would fit in Miami.

These are quality wings and are realistic to get. So, I think the Heat are in a pretty good position to improve the team even if both Tucker and Oladipo leave — though I’d really prefer if Oladipo stayed.

Now, we just have to wait and have Riley and Andy work their magic to make this team a contender again.