The Heat’s recent hot streak hasn’t changed the fact that this will be a crucial summer for the organization, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami won 14 of its last 16 games before the All-Star break to climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff race. But Winderman says team president Pat Riley will have bigger issues than the postseason to consider when he decides what moves to make before Thursday’s trade deadline. The Heat will probably enter the offseason with Chris Bosh‘s salary-cap space reclaimed and with the knowledge that Tyler Johnson‘s cap hit will balloon from $5.9MM next season to $19.2MM in 2018/19. That creates a sense of urgency for a big move this summer. Miami will also have its draft pick this season, although the team appears out of the running for a top choice, but two of the next four Heat first-rounders belong to the Suns from the Goran Dragic trade.
There’s more this morning out of Miami:
- Dragic, who once seemed a likely trade candidate because of his contract and the Heat’s poor record, has become indispensable as a team leader, Winderman writes in a separate piece. With Miami contending for a playoff spot, Dragic’s salary of more than $54MM over the next three seasons doesn’t seem nearly as oppressive. “Winning means something to him,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. “And that’s where you start with leadership, is bringing other people with you to make winning that important. And it’s uncomfortable for the majority of leaders, to take that first step. And that’s where he’s been very open to his growth.”
- The Heat are focused on making the playoffs and are more likely to be buyers than sellers as the deadline approaches, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald asked two Eastern Conference scouts to rate Miami’s roster. They believe Dion Waiters will get offers of $10MM to $12MM per year when he hits free agency this summer, James Johnson is better than anyone believed and will probably get at least $10MM per year as a free agent and Tyler Johnson’s production is warranting the four-year, $50MM offer that the Heat matched last summer.