It has been a bittersweet start to the season for Heat guard Max Strus, now in his fourth NBA season and third in Miami. The Heat, coming off a year in which they were first in the Eastern Conference, have been disjointed and stand at just 2-4 through six games. But Strus, individually, has put forth a solid performance, averaging 13.3 points (on 46.9% shooting), 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists.
Those numbers all represent career highs and for Strus, an especially productive year would be well-timed. That’s because, after scraping to make it into the NBA after going undrafted out of DePaul in 2019, Strus stands to earn his first major NBA payday when he hits free agency this summer.
He is trying to put that out of his mind, though, as he told Heavy Sports.
“I try to take it one day at a time,” Strus said. “I don’t try to get too far ahead of myself. I just want to play basketball to the best of my ability every game I have. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen in the future, just kind of play my role to the best of my ability, and everything will take care of itself after that. If you get caught up in that stuff, it affects your play so I try not to think about it. I just do my best and put myself in a position for good things to happen.”
Max Strus Took Hard Road to NBA
Strus was originally signed by the Celtics to a two-way deal on draft night, and it appeared he would be headed toward starting his career in Boston. But the team converted his contract into a standard deal, gave his two-way spot to center Tacko Fall and waived Strus in favor of forward Javonte Green.
Strus caught on with the Bulls’ G League team but injured his knee in December 2019. Almost a year later, he landed a contract with the Heat and has been in Miami since.
It’s likely that the Heat will try to keep Strus in place, because he is a versatile wing who can shoot. Finding a trade partner to take on wing shooter Duncan Robinson, who has four years and $75 million left on his deal ($65 million of that is guaranteed), would go a long way toward creating the flexibility to re-sign Strus.
Strus’ Value as a Free Agent Next Summer
Either way, Strus is in line for a big-time raise next summer after making $3.9 million total in his first three seasons (according to Spotrac). He won’t get the kind of contract that Robinson got, but around the league there are varying views of what his value will be.
A comparison could be made to, say, Kevin Huerter of Sacramento, who got four years and $65 million from the Hawks before he was traded, or Gary Harris, who got two years and $26 million from the Magic. But some see Strus as likely to get a midlevel taxpayer deal
“There are definitely some comps out there that could push him up around the standard midlevel ($11 million) but it’s hard to see the market developing that way,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy. “He probably lands a taxpayer (midlevel) deal with a good team because he’s shown he can be that kind of a role player. So, you’re talking about $7 million a year, which is probably a pretty good bargain for a guy who is highly valued, but he can keep building up some value from there.”
It would help, too, if the Heat started winning more games, of course.