As the first week of NBA free agency comes to a close, the Miami Heat appear to be in a holding pattern. While P.J. Tucker left to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Heat have made moves only to retain the bulk of their roster, re-signing Victor Oladipo, Dewayne Dedmon and Caleb Martin.
After Miami was named as one of the top suitors to land Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant and was called the “most likely” landing spot for Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, the Heat’s offseason moves feel anti-climatic.
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Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes gave Miami a C- grade for their free agency decisions thus far. “From where we sit, the Heat are worse today than they were when the offseason began,” Hughes wrote. After losing Tucker, the Heat “didn’t make any significant additions beyond No. 27 pick Nikola Jovic. While continued development from Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo could offset the departure of its starting power forward, we’re only grading Miami on its transactions.”
However, key details concerning two of the players the Heat re-signed “may be a clue to another move down the road,” Hughes wrote.
Oladipo’s contract was initially reported to be a one-year, $11 million contract when it was announced last week, but those terms have since changed. “It’s now going to be two-year deal with smaller salary this season and player option in second year,” Chiang tweeted on Wednesday. “Less money gives Heat more room to avoid luxury tax and potential hard cap.”
Winderman noted of the changes regarding the two-time All-Star’s contract, “This means Oladipo no longer can block a trade once he becomes trade eligible on Jan. 15. On a one-year deal, he would have had veto rights.”
Between Oladipo’s restructured deal and Dedmon’s two-year, $9 million contract, which is “a little more than you’d like to pay for a backup 5 who won’t play a major role in the postseason,” Hughes noted, “the Heat are now equipped with more matching salary for trade purposes. If Miami ends up landing Durant, we’ll have to reevaluate. For now, the Heat have to deal with a low mark for doing little to improve their odds of advancing past last year’s conference finals level.”
Martin’s Contract Also Makes Him Available for a Possible Trade
While Oladipo and Dedmon can be included in a trade package starting on January 15, the Heat’s prudence in re-signing Martin, whose three-year $20.5 million contract is fully guaranteed, could serve as another clue Heat president Pat Riley is cooking up something big.
Miami’s quickness in re-signing the restricted free agent means they can also trade him starting December 15. Chiang explained, “When teams match offer sheets with RFAs, that player can’t be traded without their consent for the rest of the NBA calendar year. But since the Heat didn’t need to match an offer sheet to keep Caleb Martin, this doesn’t apply.”
The Heat Won’t Be Able to Afford a 15th Player Unless a Major Trade Takes Place
As of Friday, July 8, the Heat barely has enough room to sign a 14th player, which will ostensibly go to longtime team captain Udonis Haslem, should he return for his 20th NBA season. Haslem would sign another veteran’s minimum ($1.8 million), which keeps Miami from hitting the luxury tax.
According to Spotrac.com, the Heat have approximately $148 million on their active roster cap, which means their just over $2 million from the luxury tax threshold for the 2022-23 NBA season, which is $150.3 million, per The Athletic).
Overall, time and patience may benefit the Heat especially when it comes to Durant. While the 12-time All-Star’s reported requirements for a Heat trade may put Miami out of the running, it’s ultimately the Nets who decide his fate.
If the drama in Brooklyn continues to get worse, by January, the Heat will have three more trade pieces at their disposal. “It appears the market is sluggish to develop as teams reevaluate their rosters after the draft and the early stages of free agency,” Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels noted of the Durant sweepstakes on Tuesday. “The action should pick up as training camp moves closer, though.”
As for Mitchell, while it appears he’ll be staying in Utah for now, he may have a change of heart after playing a few months without Rudy Gobert and Royce O’Neal, both of whom were traded last week.
Yahoo! Sports’ NBA Insider Chris Haynes said on Friday’s episode of his podcast that the Heat are continuing to monitor the Mitchell situation in Utah, and believes the 25-year-old guard will be available “at some point.”