While the Miami Heat are laser-focused on playing the Milwaukee Bucks during the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, NBA analysts are already making bold predictions for the upcoming free agency market this summer.
On May 18, Bleacher Report‘s Jake Fischer named the Heat as one of the top teams to steal “Sixth Man of the Year” candidate Tim Hardaway Jr. away from the Dallas Mavericks during the offseason.
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In Fischer’s article of “NBA Insiders See These Under-the-Radar Free Agents Getting Huge Paydays,” along with the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and Toronto Raptors, he names the Heat as having “the ability to clear upward of $20-plus million in cap space come August.”
“Only so many players can take up so much cap room,” one veteran cap expert told Bleacher Report. “And some guys are going to get left out. But there will be a few guys who get big numbers that make your eyes pop.” And Hardaway, 29, is one of those players.
While he’s not expected to win the Sixth Man of the Year Award, Fischer points out the guard is “finishing his second straight campaign above 39% shooting from deep– nearly 5 percentage points above likely 6MOY Jordan Clarkson — right in time for free agency.”
“He’s one of the best pure scorers in the league,” a personnel evaluator told Bleacher Report. “He can just move the scoreboard when he gets into the game. I think Dallas is using him in the role that most high-level teams would want to use him, the way that Utah’s weaponized Clarkson off the bench. He could start for a lot of teams, but because he’s a high-usage guy, he’s better off the bench.”
With Victor Oladipo’s NBA Future in Limbo, the Heat Should Be Willing to Shell Out Big Money for His Replacement
Sadly, the Heat’s “test drive” with Victor Oladipo crashed and burned before it really even got started. After being traded to Miami on March 25, the two-time All-Star appeared in just four games with the Heat before re-injuring his knee on April 8. After months of Miami revealing only the vaguest updates on Oladipo’s health status, Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra finally confirmed last week that he’d be out indefinitely.
On May 13, the 29-year-old guard underwent season-ending surgery on his right quadriceps tendon. While the surgery was successful, Oladipo will once again be out for what could be a longer-than-expected period of time.
With Oladipo possibly being unable to play for the bulk of the 2021-2022 NBA season, Fischer reported that Heat may be willing to shell out big money for a new guard if Hardaway doesn’t re-sign with Dallas.
“After thriving alongside Luka Doncic, Hardaway might score that payday from the Mavericks,” Fischer wrote. “But if he does test the open market, keep an eye on the Heat, who have struggled to replace what Jae Crowder brought during their run to the 2020 NBA Finals. Victor Oladipo is no longer a candidate to land such a deal in the wake of his latest injury.”