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.
- Goran Dragic: Five years, $85MM. Signed via Bird rights. Fifth year is a player option.
- Gerald Green: One year, $1.356MM. Signed via minimum salary exception.
- Amar’e Stoudemire: One year, $1.499MM. Signed via minimum salary exception.
- Dwyane Wade: One year, $20MM. Signed via Bird rights.
- Acquired Boston’s 2019 second round pick (top-55 protected) from the Celtics in exchange for Zoran Dragic, Miami’s 2020 second round pick and $1.6MM in cash.
- Acquired Orlando’s 2016 second round pick (top-55 protected) from the Magic in exchange for Shabazz Napier and $1.1MM in cash.
- Justise Winslow (Round 1, 10th overall). Signed via rookie exception to rookie scale contract.
- Josh Richardson (Round 2, 40th overall). Signed via taxpayer mid-level exception for three years, $2.4MM. First year is fully guaranteed; second and third years are non-guaranteed.
- Keith Benson — waived.
- Corey Hawkins — waived.
- Tre Kelley — waived.
- John Lucas III — waived.
- Briante Weber — waived.
- Greg Whittington — waived.
Rookie Contract Option Decisions
The Heat are a popular sleeper pick for a deep postseason run this year in the Eastern Conference despite losing 45 games last season. That’s because they still have one of the top coaches in the league in Erik Spoelstra and they have an improved roster. The Heat chose to remain in win-now mode instead of going through a rebuilding phase. Therefore, with two aging stars in Dwyane Wade (33) and Chris Bosh (30), there is a lot riding on this season.
There is also reason for all the optimism (albeit, even if it is under-the-radar) surrounding the team this season. The team had a sensible offseason. Miami snagged former Duke star Justise Winslow with the 10th overall pick of the draft in June, and the small forward is immensely talented. The best part for the Heat is that they don’t need Winslow to carry them this season at all. Winslow is only 19 and can use this season to grow and learn behind Wade and a batch of other veterans.
The Heat are relying on a strong starting five that features three former All-Stars in Bosh, Wade and Deng. It’s the two other players, however, that are arguably more important: Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Re-signing Dragic was the Heat’s most significant move of the offseason. Dragic, who came at midseason in a trade with the Suns, is a solid point guard with above-average court vision and the deal will look like less of an investment from Miami’s standpoint once the salary cap skyrockets, as expected, in the next few years. In other words, it was a win-win for Miami.
The deal with Wade was similar in that sense. By re-signing its longtime star to a one-year, $20MM arrangement, the Heat didn’t do much to compromise their ability to build in the future. Of course, the Heat would have preferred Wade to opt in on his old contract for 2015/16, which would given Wade a salary of $16.125MM. Wade has been limited by injuries the past few seasons, and he appeared in 62 games for Miami last season, averaging 21.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 31.8 minutes per contest. The X-factor for the Heat this season is whether Wade can stay healthy. Spoelstra will offer Wade rest whenever possible to preserve his body.
With the exception of drafting Winslow and re-signing Dragic, the Heat’s offseason was rather quiet. Miami reportedly met with LaMarcus Aldridge, but the Heat were never viewed as major players in obtaining the All-Star’s services. Miami did not want added luxury tax issues, for that matter. On the flip side, the Heat didn’t have to replace much, either. Michael Beasley, Zoran Dragic, Shabazz Napier and Henry Walker are gone from last year’s team, but none of those players were part of the big picture for Miami. Goran Dragic said he understood the team’s decision of not keeping his brother. The Heat cut ties with Zoran Dragic and Napier in salary-clearing trades.
Miami made some changes to its bench that should help. For one, Josh McRoberts, who was expected to start last year but missed time most of the season with injuries, is part of the veteran reserve group. McRoberts can stretch the floor and knock down jumpers. The Heat’s two other additions were done cheaply with the bench in mind. Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire were added on one-year deals that feature very low-risk and moderate upside. From Miami’s perspective, that the way they had to be. When the Heat signed Stoudemire, they were limited to only their $3.376MM taxpayer’s mid-level exception, and they didn’t even use that with tax penalties looming. Spoelstra was high on both acquisitions when the team made them.
“If you had told me a year ago we would have an opportunity to sign both those players, I would have said that’s not realistic,” Spoelstra said, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “We recruited Amar’e in 2010 and were fans of his game back then. His game has evolved and he has found a niche and a role the last couple of years we definitely can take advantage of. Gerald Green is an explosive player. Those type of game changing players are tough to find in this league.”
The Heat took a flyer on Green hoping they get the 2013/14 version (15.8 points per game with the Suns) instead of last year’s version (11.9 points per game with a poor shooting percentage). So far, Green hasn’t been able to provide much. He was released from the hospital Saturday after a four-day stay for an undisclosed reason. The Heat have not elaborated on Green’s condition.
The presence of Dragic was a major draw for Stoudemire to join Miami as a free agent, according to a recent report. Stoudemire is another injury-prone player on a team that seems to have many, however. The power forward did play well last year, though, in limited time. He had played in only one game so far this season.
Health isn’t the only issue for the Heat this season, though. Mario Chalmers, now the backup point guard to Dragic at the point, has been known for his inconsistency. Chalmers was involved in trade rumors for a good portion of the summer and those whispers have continued into the season. Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com first reported in June that the Heat were shopping Chalmers, as well as Chris Andersen, in an effort to clear the way for a new deal with Wade, though team president Pat Riley denied it. The Heat and Grizzlies have reportedly talked about a potential trade that wound send Chalmers to Memphis. The Heat are in line to pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they finish the season above the $84.74MM tax line, and they’re at about $91.9MM now. Chalmers makes $4.3MM on an expiring contract.
An interesting argument exists that whether or not the Heat had a positive offseason depends largely on their ability to ship out Chalmers and make the other moves necessary to avoid the tax. Regardless, the Heat have positioned themselves to win now with a roster dotted with veteran All-Star-caliber talent. The presence of Winslow also indicates that the Heat have an eye toward the future as well as the present.
Eddie Scarito contributed to this post. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of it.