While the Miami Heat have been linked to nearly every free agent or disgruntled superstar possibly looking for a fresh start next season, before they add new players, the franchise must first decide which of their own players they can afford to keep.
Only five Heat players contractually agreed to return for the 2021-22 NBA season, which means Miami’s front office has a lot of hard decisions to make. On July 30, it was announced that the Heat extended qualifying offers to Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Max Strus, and Gabe Vincent.
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As expected, Miami extended $4.7 million qualifying offers to Robinson and Nunn, officially making them both restricted free agents, which means the Heat will have the opportunity to match any offer extended to either player from other teams.
The offers extended to Strus and Vincent, Miami’s two-way players from last season, could mean they return as two-way players next season, or “the Heat will be forced to match standard contract offers they recieved as restricted free agents,” Miami Herald‘s Anthony Chiang reported.
While the two-way player offers were much smaller than those of Robinson and Nunn, Vincent’s offer was slightly higher than the one extended to Strus. Chiang explained:
Since Vincent spent the past two seasons as a two-way contract player with the Heat, his qualifying offer is for a standard NBA contract at the minimum salary and comes with an $84,000 guarantee. Strus’ qualifying offer is for another two-way deal with a $50,000 guarantee. But both offers could still result in them playing under two-way contracts with the Heat next season.
Miami Must Decided What to Do With Goran Dragic & Andre Iguodala’s Contacts By 5 p.m. on Sunday
While the qualifying offers to Nunn, 25 and Robinson, 27 were expected, it’s not totally clear what Miami plans to do with the team options of Goran Dragic ($19.4 million) and Andre Iguodala ($15 million). The Heat must announce decision by 5 p.m. ET on August 1.
With the goal of nabbing a third big name to play alongside the core superstar duo of Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, there’s little chance Miami can afford to keep both Iguodala and Dragic at their opt-in price.
The Heat are already on the hook for $72.6 million for the five players whose salaries are already guaranteed for next season: Butler ($36 million), Adebayo ($28.1 million), Tyler Herro ($4 million), Precious Achiuwa ($2.7 million) and KZ Okpala ($1.8 million).
Robinson & Nunn May Still Be on the Move
Just because the Heat extended qualifying offers to Nunn and Robinson, doesn’t mean they will remain in Miami. “Robinson is expected to receive a free-agent contract that starts at least at three times the value the qualifying offer, with Nunn expected to field offers that start at least at twice his qualifying offer,” Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman reported.
With such massive pay bumps, Robinson is looking to make between $15 and $20 million a year, and Nunn, around $11.5 million, it’s unlikely the Heat can afford to keep both of them. It’s largely expected for Miami to prioritize Robinson, as he’s developed into one of the league’s best three-point shooters.
While Nunn has also become a formidable power on offense, he could receive outside offers that price him out of Miami’s range, especially if the Heat are able nab Kyle Lowry, who’s looking for a three-year $90 million contract at age 35, Bradley Beal, Chris Paul, or Kawhi Leonard.
The Athletic‘s John Hollinger surmised, “Miami’s guard presents an interesting case because his cap hold is only [$4.7 million], thus giving the Heat a fairly strong incentive to use the rest of their cap room and then re-sign Kendrick Nunn.
“On the other hand, one of the Heat’s primary targets is likely Lowry, and it would seemingly make little sense to pay Nunn starter-level money to be his caddy; using cap space and then paying both Nunn and Duncan Robinson (who has the same low cap hold) could also vault Miami into the luxury tax.”