We are just a couple of weeks from the start of NBA training camp and though the Heat seem set with the roster they’ll bring to camp, and with the likely 14 players they’ll have on hand to start the season, don’t rule anything out. That’s the advice of Heavy Sports veteran NBA insider Steve Bulpett.
The Heat have some constraints, to be sure. The team is trying to skirt the league’s luxury tax and is currently right around $160,000 below the mark, meaning it can’t add a 15th player without shooting above the threshold. The Heat has space available, including its $4 million bi-annual exception and $4 million remaining on its midlevel exception.
But it won’t touch those if it means going into the tax. That means moves could be coming for coach Erik Spoelstra’s bunch.
“I’d be surprised if Miami sticks with the 14 it has all the way through,” Bulpett said in a video interview. “I guess it could happen but I don’t see it. I think they need to maintain some flexibility. If they are not going to go over the luxury tax or risk going over the luxury tax, then I don’t see them being—how are they going to contend if they don’t? I don’t think, as currently constituted, Miami has addressed its need for size.”
P.J. Tucker Departure Hurt Heat’s Frontcourt
That lack of size is underscored by the loss of forward P.J. Tucker to Philadelphia, a vacancy the team did not fill upon his departure. Instead, with Tucker out, the team only re-signed Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin, two wing players who are likely to come off the bench.
The Heat passed on the chance to bring back forward Markieff Morris, who spent most of the year injured after a tussle with Nikola Jokic. They also passed on center/forward Montrezl Harrell. Morris went on to sign with the Nets, and Harrell landed in Philadelphia.
As it stands, the Heat’s only legitimate bigs are centers Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven.
“I would not be surprised if Miami makes a move that clears out some space but I think they know that, right now, as currently constituted, they are on the edge of contender-ship. … The Heat have to know it is going to be a tough slog for them with the way it is right now,” Bulpett said. “They’re banking on Victor Oladipo being a lot better coming back from injury, and I would ascribe to that theory. But you’re putting a lot of eggs in Bam Adebayo’s basket and asking their big guys, what they have, to do a lot.”
Duncan Robinson Trade an Answer for the Heat?
The one piece that could solve some problems for the Heat is sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, who is in only the second year of a five-year, $90 million deal. Robinson struggled last season (his true shooting percentage fell from .628 to .573) and was pulled from the rotation, making him extra difficult to move.
But Robinson does have value around the league, and if the Heat can move him while getting back a serviceable big guy and gaining a bit of breathing room under the tax, it’s something Miami must consider—assuming there is a useful roster piece in his place.
“I think most anything is on the table for Miami,” Bulpett said. “They’ve got some—it is hard to move some people. But if they move a Duncan Robinson, I can see them doing that, but it is maybe not what they want to get back in return, maybe what they want is the space. But the question becomes, what’s the corollary move to that? Who else do you have in mind that you’re going to use that space on?”