Despite the absence of Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat were A-OK in their November 13 road bout with the Jazz. Whether or not he can return to the court against the Thunder on Monday, the team will likely be ready to go then, too, and Heat fans can thank Tyler Herro for that.
Herro’s sophomore mini-slump previously had some questioning what they knew about him and their team. Over a 10-game stretch in March, he put up just 11.3 points per contest while shooting 32% from the floor and 21.6% from deep. Now, though, the sky looks to be the limit for the former late-lottery pick.
Through 13 games in 2021-22, Herro is logging a 22-6-4 line and connecting on 37.4% of his seven three-point attempts per contest. His efforts off the bench have been so great that he is literally setting NBA records for early-year production.
More than that, though, they may have set the table for the 21-year-old to get a monster payday — and perhaps sooner than some may have expected.
Is Herro a Max-Money Guy?
As it stands, Herro will pull down around $4 million this season and closer to $6 million in 2022-23 per his rookie-scale deal with the Heat. If nothing changes between now and then, a qualifying offer from Miami would make him a restricted free agent that summer, giving the team an ability to match any offer sheet he signs.
While that’s a good scenario for the Heat given the way in which he has blown up, it may behoove the team to take care of business before that point.
As it happens, Herro will be eligible for the designated rookie extension this offseason. Such a deal would net him a max-level salary of at least 25% of the cap in his first extension year.
For Herro, that would mean a starting salary of more than $31 million with annual raises pushing the deal to around $181 million over five years beyond his current pact with the Heat.
In the spring, it may have seemed an unlikely scenario, but now? Not so much.
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Miami’s Cap Situation
Right now, only four players on the current roster have contracts extending to the 2023-24 campaign, which would be the first year of Herro’s extension. They are Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson. Given those players’ collective status as the core of the team, though, it’s a massive sum that Miami is committed to.
Specifically, those four players alone are slated to pull down more than $125 million that season.
For their part, Miami will have the ability to go above the cap to re-sign Herro, which makes the massive extension possible under the rules of the CBA. However, the team would then be limited in what it could do to round out the rest of the roster because it would be significantly over the luxury-tax threshold.
That’s where the Heat will have to do some soul searching. After this season, especially if Herro keeps it up, Pat Riley and the rest of the team’s brain trust must decide — is Herro worth it? Not only in terms of the dollars they’ll be doling out to him, but also where their limited roster flexibility would come into play.
Herro is only 21 and, scoring 21.5 points per game, showing the Heat he is the star they thought he could be after his promising rookie year. He’ll have to be paid like a star. If the Heat balk, it could come back to bite them in other ways.