Offseason In Review: Miami Heat

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees, and more will be covered, as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.

Signings

Extensions

  • None

Trades

  • Acquired 2014 pick No. 24 from the Hornets in exchange for 2014 pick No. 26, 2014 pick No. 55, Miami’s 2019 second-round pick and cash.

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • Shabazz Napier (Round 1, 24th overall). Signed via rookie scale exception to rookie scale contract.
  • James Ennis (2013, Round 2, 50th overall). Signed via cap room for three years, $2.333MM. Second and third years are non-guaranteed.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

  • None

When you lose a player who is arguably the best in the world, it’s not exactly a great start to an offseason. But that is the reality that the Heat had to deal with in the wake of LeBron James returning his talents to Cleveland. But alas, life must go on, and there are few folks around the league outside of Miami who feel sorry for the Heat. All things considered, team president Pat Riley managed to recover adroitly from the blow that LeBron’s decision struck, and Riley was able to land a number of useful new pieces while keeping a large part of the team’s core in place.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Miami HeatMiami’s most significant move of the summer was re-signing Chris Bosh to a five-year, $118,705,300 maximum-salary deal. The Rockets heavily courted Bosh, and Houston went as far as to deal away Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in order to clear enough cap space to allow the team sign him. But in the end, Bosh stayed true to his word that he would return to South Beach, and the fact that the Heat were able to offer a fifth year didn’t hurt their recruitment efforts, either.

Now Bosh will get the opportunity to remind the league of his years with the Raptors when he was that franchise’s No. 1 option and averaged more than 22 points per game for five consecutive seasons. None of the “Big Three” sacrificed their games for the betterment of the Heat as much as Bosh did, and Bosh was suitably rewarded with his new deal. The 30-year-old forward has lived up to his end of the bargain thus far, averaging 24.2 PPG and 11 rebounds per game through the team’s first five contests.

Riley also re-signed franchise icon Dwyane Wade this summer, though I’m not as bullish on this deal as I am on Bosh’s, since Wade hasn’t appeared in more than 70 games in a season since the 2010/11 campaign, and he isn’t close to being the dominant force that he was during his prime. The $15MM that Miami will pay Wade this season isn’t a problem, but next season’s $16.125MM player option could hamstring Miami’s efforts to acquire another upper-tier player.

Also re-signing with Miami this summer were Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, and Chris Andersen.  All three are valuable role players for the franchise, though I feel that the team overpaid for Chalmers, who had a brutal postseason last year, and with first-round pick Shabazz Napier showing enormous potential, having Chalmers and his $4.3MM salary on the books for next year could be unnecessary. As for Haslem and Andersen, both are valuable rotation pieces who bring an enormous amount of energy and tireless work ethic to the court, but both are over 34 years old and have had numerous injury issues the past few seasons. The frequency of injuries usually doesn’t abate as players age, and that’s especially true with big men. Their salaries aren’t excessive, but fully guaranteeing the second years for both could end up being problematic.

Miami already has $41,185,835 in guaranteed salary committed for 2015/16, plus another $28,447,077 in player options, totaling $69,632,912. With the injury risks for Wade, Haslem, Andersen, and the oft-injured Danny Granger, whom Riley signed on the cheap this summer, Miami could be looking at a large chunk of its salary cap sitting behind the bench in street clothes for long stretches over the next two years. The team will probably enter next summer without cap space, and depending on what it wants to do with Norris Cole, who went without a rookie scale extension and is poised for restricted free agency, perhaps close enough to the tax threshold to keep it from using the full mid-level exception. With LeBron gone, so likely are the days when veterans would be willing to take pay cuts to come to South Beach in return for a shot at a ring.

The team made a pair of other important moves during the offseason, chief among them the signing of Luol Deng. Much of LeBron’s numbers will have to be made up by aggregation, but it’s not only on the offensive side where Deng can help the team compensate for James’ departure. It is Deng’s defense and fiery demeanor that will benefit the team the most. Deng, who has a player option, may only stay in Miami for a season, depending on how strong a year he has, and how he feels about the direction of the team, but he is an excellent addition nonetheless.

I’m not particularly fond of the deal the Heat gave to Josh McRoberts, however. This signing was made prior to LeBron announcing his free agent destination, and a large part of me feels that if Riley had known he wouldn’t have James next season, he wouldn’t have done this deal. McRoberts would have been an excellent rotation piece on a contending team fronted by James, but as a starter who will be counted on for more than just spreading the floor, a four-year, $22,652,350 deal seems like a gross overpay for a 28-year-old forward who has career averages of 5.7 PPG and 4.1 RPG. The Hornets made a much wiser signing to replace the departed McRoberts with Marvin Williams, who has significantly better career numbers and has been more consistent over the course of his time in the league.

The Heat made the best of a trying situation this offseason, though a number of the deals they made could come back to haunt them next season. Riley proved his worth as an executive once again in being able to field a competitive team in spite of having been spurned by James. Miami is also lucky to reside in the Eastern Conference, so the team should factor into the playoff picture this year. Still, it’s next season when the Heat will truly feel the weight of the salary cap pressing down upon them, and absence of LeBron will begin to sting more sharply.

Photo courtesy of USA Today. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post. Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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