After getting swept in the first round of the playoffs, the Miami Heat are in the market for a serious rebuild. Considering only five players are contractually guaranteed to return next season, and the need to obtain an All-Star in free agency, Miami faces a financial dilemma when it comes to keeping two of their top up-and-comers.
Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson become restricted free agents this summer, and with both of them due for a massive pay bump, it’s hard to envision a way for the Heat to keep both players on their roster while also adding a big name such as Bradley Beal should he become available.
Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley predicts that if Heat have to choose between retaining Robinson or Nunn, the latter will be let go.
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“In the past, the Heat have effectively rolled over their cap space by bringing a lot of their players back on short-term contracts,” Buckley wrote. “That option probably isn’t available for restricted free agents Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, who should both rank favorably among the best young players on the market.”
“Robinson and Nunn are each in line for major pay raises, and given the Heat’s need for an external upgrade, they may not want to pay both,” Buckley continued. “Robinson’s lethal long-range shooting means more to this roster than Nunn’s scoring, so Miami might pay up for the former and try to find a cheaper replacement for the latter.”
Nunn, 25, who started in 44 games for the Heat this season while averaging 14.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists during the regular season, is one of Miami’s undrafted success stories, and he’s expected to net contract offers in the $15 million range this summer.
Nunn Expected to Get Offers from Pacers, Knicks & More
If the Heat don’t retain Nunn, Bleacher Report‘s Grant Hughes says the 26-year-old guard won’t have trouble finding a new home in the NBA.
Hughes reported that the Indiana Pacers should focus on stealing Nunn away. “Nunn is more of a combo guard, which would work just fine with [Malcolm] Brogdon, [Caris] LeVert and TJ Warren all capable of orchestrating the offense,” Hughes wrote. “Ideally a backup, Nunn’s comfort on and off the ball would make it easy to blend him into starter-led groups when not running the second unit. At 14.6 points per game on 59.6% true shooting with the Miami Heat in 2020-21, Nunn validated his status as a quality rotation scorer at the guard spot.”
SNY‘s NBA Insider Ian Begley recently reported that the New York Knicks are interested in acquiring the Oakland alum. Of course, this is all speculative on the premise Nunn doesn’t remain in South Beach.
“We like both of them,” Heat president Pat Riley said during his annual postseason press conference, “and we’ll see what happens with them when it comes to the market.”