After taking steps to maximize roster flexibility over the past 18 months, the Heat will likely need it as they try to rebuild in the wake of a first-round sweep, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider account). Jimmy Butler ($36MM), Bam Adebayo ($28.1MM), Tyler Herro ($4MM), Precious Achiuwa ($2.7MM), and KZ Okpala ($1.8MM) are the only players with guaranteed contracts for next season, but Miami can choose to operate above or below the cap depending on its other roster decisions.
The Heat have been prioritizing cap space for this summer, originally hoping to take advantage of a stellar free agent class that included Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George and LeBron James. That route has lost some luster with those players all agreeing to extensions, but Miami’s cap room will still be an asset.
The team could have about $21MM available, Marks notes, or $27MM if it doesn’t make qualifying offers to Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, which would cut their cap holds from $4.7MM to $1.7MM each. However, Marks adds that the Heat would only consider that route if they’re assured that both players will re-sign after their cap space is exhausted. Miami would also have to decline team options on Andre Iguodala and Goran Dragic by the Aug. 1 deadline and renounce its rights to Trevor Ariza and Victor Oladipo.
The other choice is operating over the cap, which means keeping or trading some of the veterans, but it also risks cutting into potential cap space for 2022/23.
There’s more from Miami:
- The Heat are coming up on an important decision regarding Butler, who will be eligible for a four-year extension worth $181MM, Marks adds in the same story. Butler was outstanding during the regular season, but wasn’t as effective in the playoffs, and Miami will have to determine whether he’s worth that investment with his 32nd birthday coming up in September.
- There may not be a realistic Plan B for team president Pat Riley now that Antetokounmpo has committed to Milwaukee, contends Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. The two-time MVP dismantled Miami in the playoffs and showed why he would have been such a great addition. Winderman suggests the alternative is to hope Kawhi Leonard becomes available if the Clippers lose in the first round or to possibly make another run at Kyle Lowry.
- Butler said after today’s game that he will consider playing in the Olympics, but isn’t close to making a decision, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Butler won a gold medal at the 2016 Games.