Following some hard stretches over the first six-ish weeks of the 2022-23 NBA campaign, it’s objectively good to be repping the Miami Heat at the moment. With Monday’s double-digit win over the LA Clippers, Jimmy Butler and Co. have moved up to seventh place in the East standings at 20-18, only a handful of games outside the middle of the playoff bracket.
It’s a massive sea change compared to where the club was just a few, short weeks ago. That said, the Heat are still nowhere near the place fans expected them to be after finishing a few points short of a Finals berth last season. And some continue to question the current roster’s long-term viability.
“They could come to a point where they want to blow it up,” an Eastern Conference GM recently told Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney in addressing the team’s direction. “They are not there at this point, obviously, but you can imagine it.”
Even as the exec broached the subject, though, he maintained that there are some serious deterrents to rebuilding.
GM Says Jimmy Butler Makes a Total Rebuild Difficult to Pull Off
Frist and foremost, the GM is of the belief that Jimmy Buckets’ presence could prevent a full-on rebuild from happening, even if the team does decide on a change in direction. And it has as much (or more) to do with the financials involved than Butler’s on-court ability.
“The problem is, that extension they gave Butler [in 2020]. You start there, and there is no way you’re going to move him. I love a lot about Jimmy’s game but he is 33 and he can’t shoot the 3, and he is on the books for three more years at almost $150 million,” the GM said.
“Try going to an owner saying, we’re going to be paying a 35-year-old $50 million.”
With Butler’s name likely not part of the equation, team president Pat Riley would have to utilize the team’s other big ballers if he really wanted to shake things up. And, well…
“If you keep Butler, where do you go to blow it up? They’ve been trying to move Duncan Robinson and that has gone nowhere. They’ve been willing to move [Kyle] Lowry but who wants to pay him $30 million? And they’re not trading Bam. So, maybe they try to trade [Tyler] Herro next year but that is not going to be a case where you’re blowing up anything.”
Victor Oladipo Rediscovering His Aggressiveness
To say that Victor Oladipo’s season so far hasn’t followed the desired script would be an understatement. When the former All-Star signed a two-year, $18.2 million deal to remain with the Heat over the summer, there was hope that he would come back healthy and ready to contribute in a key role for head coach Erik Spoelstra.
Instead, he didn’t make his season debut until December 6 and it took him a multitude of games to establish a level of consistency. Over the last two contests, though, the 30-year-old has flashed reminders of the baller he once was. Against the Utah Jazz on New Year’s Eve, for example, he scored a season-high 23 points while adding five boards, five assists, three steals and a block.
His recent offensive results have largely been the byproduct of his increased aggressiveness, which is perhaps best exemplified by the progression in his driving stats. Via John Jablonka: