Former All-Star Namechecked as Heat’s ‘Biggest Flight Risk’

Pat Riley Heat

Getty Miami Heat president Pat Riley addresses the media during Jimmy Butler's introductory press conference in 2019.

After adding Kevin Love and Cody Zeller to the mix, the Miami Heat‘s roster is essentially set for the stretch run. And despite their middling position in the Eastern Conference standings, the Heat have to feel like they have an oppportunity to make some real postseason noise amid the signings.

The team’s future is far less certain, though, with difficult financial decisions looming this summer. In a feature examining each NBA team’s “biggest flight risks,” Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes noted that “the luxury tax pain for keeping even one [of the Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo triumvirate] would be substantial.”

He’s not wrong, either. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson recently observed that Oladipo’s $9.5 million opt-in and Strus re-upping for, say, $7 million in 2023-24 would net Miami a $50 million luxury tax bill, even if all other free agents are replaced with minimum-salary signings.

With that being the case, the Heat may have to let a good player or two walk this offseason. And one player in particular may actually be motivated to take off in search of a better deal.

B/R: Victor Oladipo Could Look for Other Teams to Show Him the Money

Victor Oladipo 26 PTS OFF THE BENCH! Full Highlights vs Suns 🔥Miami Heat vs Phoenix Suns – Full Game Highlights | January 6, 2023 | 2022-23 NBA Season NBA X CREATOR MERCH DROP! CHECK IT OUT – 📌 Follow HoH Instagram: 📌 Follow HoH TikTok: #HouseofHighlights #NBA2023-01-07T05:44:02Z

Regarding the Heat’s biggest flight risk, Hughes ultimately settled on the two-time All-Star, Oladipo, citing his place in the league hierarchy and a greater need to secure himself in light of ongoing injury concerns.

Wrote Hughes:

In the end, Strus and Vincent have firmer ties to Miami, a team that tends to keep the players with #HeatCulture experience. Oladipo has the broader name recognition, highest level of past performance and, given his injury history, perhaps the most incentive to opt out and lock down the richest deal offered.

Although that definitely stands to reason, one could also look at Oladipo’s track record and come to the conclusion that he should opt in and collect the guaranteed money he already has coming to him. In the end, the best course of action will likely be determined by how well he holds up through the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign and what the feel on his market is.

Per Spotrac, Oladipo — who’s averaging 11.2 points, 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals through 26 appearances this season — has until June 29 to make the call on staying in South Beach or testing the waters of free agency.

Fans Continue to Rave Over the Kevin Love Addition

Bringing Love on board may have burned the Heat’s bi-annual exception and hard-capped them, but fans are still voicing their approval for the move on social media. In response to various Love-centric posts on Tuesday, fans again came out of the woodwork to express their excitement about the signing.

“This is a quality move. This team desperately needs efficient play and size,” tweeted one fan. “Pat Riley was NEVER sacrificing the next decade to get cooked for all of Miami’s assets in a trade for some big name casuals love who doesn’t make Miami a bona fide title threat.”

“He said CULTURE. He really knows what to say,” commented another supporter.

“People are out of their mind if they don’t think he’s gonna get a big roll on this team,” tweeted a third fan. “[He’s 34 years old and] hasn’t had much to look forward to in 4 years. He’s gonna come in here rejuvenated…”

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