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How should the Miami Heat manage its offseason?

A year ago, Heat president Pat Riley ended his postseason press conference with a reminder: “We’ll be back.” The statement came after the Heat were swept in the first round by eventual champions Milwaukee Bucks and signaled roster changes were coming.

Miami eventually acquired former All-Star Kyle Lowry, extended Jimmy Butler’s contract and signed PJ Tucker, Victor Oladipo, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. These additions helped the Heat win their most games since the 2013-14 season and secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The successful regular season was finally cut short by Miami’s seven-game loss to Boston in the conference finals.

State of the team: few changes to be expected

The Heat’s front office taught us never to underestimate him. In recent years, Miami has pulled off two messy trades, first bringing in All-Star Jimmy Butler from Philadelphia and then last August, Kyle Lowry from the Raptors, despite the team being under a luxury tax for the 2019 and 2021 seasons.

These acquisitions came after the Heat missed the playoffs in 2019 and were swept in the first round in 2021. The chance to flesh out the Heat’s roster this season likely won’t come through a massive trade, but with their own free agents (notably Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin) and minor adjustments.

The Heat have $135.7 million in guaranteed contracts, with $96 million going to Butler, Lowry and Bam Adebayo. Butler and Adebayo are nearly untouchable in any exchange. Lowry has $58 million remaining on his contract and has struggled to stay on the court this season and has regressed overall. Prior to scoring 18 points and 10 assists in Game 6 against Boston, he had scored just 5.6 points and shot 26.7 percent in the playoffs, missing eight games with an injury. the right hamstring.

Opponents have rounded Lowry on 43.8% of drives this season, the highest percentage of his career since player tracking began in 2013-14. Opponents shot 49.2% with Lowry as the closest defender, also the highest percentage of his career.

The remaining $40 million in salary is made up of the $16.9 million owed to Duncan Robinson, PJ Tucker (if he opts for the club), Tyler Herro and four players on minimum contracts: Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Omer Yurtseven and Haywood Highsmith.

Miami is struggling to muster enough salary to complete a trade. Robinson is guaranteed $65 million over the next four years, and until Game 5 of Boston’s series, he’s been a big part of the playoffs. During the regular season, he scored 20-plus points in 13 games, and the Heat had an offensive efficiency of 115.2. Miami was 12-1 in those games. If Miami is willing to part ways with him to improve the roster or perhaps as part of a salary dump, his contract alone probably isn’t enough. The cost could come down to one of the Heat’s role players (Strus, Vincent and maybe Herro if an All-Star becomes available) and maybe a first-round pick.

Herro is eligible for an extension and a new contract would contain a poison pill restriction, making the point guard almost untransferable during the season. Despite the Heat’s limited budget, they have the resources to keep this team together and improve free agency without trades.

The question will come down to whether the Heat are willing to pay the luxury tax for the first time since the 2019-20 season. For example, the Warriors are considered a repeat tax team because they have paid a penalty in four of the past five seasons. Instead of a $131 million tax bill, Golden State owes $170 million this year.

Tyler Herro, what should the Heat do?

Herro recently received Sixth Man of the Year honors with an average of 20.8 points, but he’s struggled as a starter and been inconsistent in back-to-back playoffs. So what salary does he deserve now? The answer to that question will determine whether Herro and the Heat reach an agreement on a contract extension before the start of the season or whether the point guard enters restricted free agency in 2023.

On the field, there’s no denying the value Herro brings, especially in the fourth quarter. Herro shot 42.3% from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, which ranks him sixth among players to have made more than 100 3-point attempts. Overall, he scored 361 points in the fourth quarter, the 12th-most points in the NBA, while playing the sixth-most total minutes of any player this season. In the playoffs, Herro became the first player in Heat history to score at least 25 points and 5 assists in a game. He did it in Game 1 against Philadelphia.

But Herro struggled in the fourth quarter during the postseason, shooting 28.6 percent from the field and 15 percent from 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. His regular season minutes also dropped from 9.8 to 8.2 in the fourth quarter. Last year, in all four games against the Bucks, he shot 31.6 percent from the field and 3-point shots.

The regular season numbers back up the argument that Herro is more comfortable off the bench than as a starter. In its 10 games as a starter, Miami has gone 5-5.

What does all this mean in terms of a new contract? Herro is not a maximum player like his teammate Bam Adebayo, and if a new deal is reached, it will come with a compromise from both sides.

Along with averaging 20.8 points this season, Herro had 18 games with seven or more rebounds and 22 games with five or more assists. His 20 25-point games this season are the most since Ricky Pierce in 1990-91.

Jeff Schwartz, his agent, should use Jaylen Brown’s four-year, $107 million extension as a comparison. This contract, which started at 23.8 million dollars. Brown averaged 13 points in the season before signing overtime and came off the bench in 49 of 74 games.

Schwartz should also point to the Heat’s ineffective offense in Games 4 and 5 against the Celtics, two losses and games Herro missed with a sprained groin. In those two games, Miami shot 32.6 percent from the field and 20 of 81 from three-pointers.

The Heat are expected to highlight the four-year, $90 million contract that Mikal Bridges signed in Phoenix last October. Bridges finished second in voting for Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-Defense First Team.

The Heat can also use the contracts of Joe Harris, Tim Hardaway Jr, Eric Gordon and Evan Fournier as a point of comparison. Each player signed for four years and for an amount between 72 and 75 million dollars.

If an extension is not concluded, the Heat will face a 2023 offseason with its two main leaders as free agents: Strus and Herro. In 2023, the Heat only have four players (Adebayo, Butler, Lowry and Robinson) under contract but exceed the cap with $126 million in salary.


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