Heat Starter Bolsters Case for Big-Time Free Agent Payday: Exec

Max Strus Heat-Knicks

Getty Miami Heat wing Max Strus reacts during a playoff game against the New York Knicks.

The Miami Heat continue to hold the favor of the basketball gods, having rocked the postseason picture once again with a series-altering Game 1 upset on Wednesday. This time, it was the Boston Celtics who found themselves gobsmacked by Erik Spoelstra‘s squad, losing the opener of the East Finals, 123-116, at TD Garden.

And while Jimmy Butler stole the headlines by outdueling Jayson Tatum, the win was secured through a team effort by the ballers of Biscayne; six Heat players finished with 15-plus points in the contest.

That’s a group that includes fourth-year wing Max Strus who, after a ho-hum regular season, has gotten a new lease on life during the postseason. He has been so productive, in fact, that the 27-year-old may have altered his forthcoming free agency in a lucrative way.

Wrote Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney: “His recent play has resurrected his reputation somewhat around the league. That is good news for him because he will be a free agent this summer, and he was not making an especially compelling case for himself.”

Heat’s Max Strus in a Position to Boost His Bottom Line in a Significant Way

Through 12 playoff games, Strus is averaging 11.3 points and 3.5 rebounds nightly while connecting on 38.6% of his three-point attempts. Against the Cs, he scored 15 points, snagged three boards and logged a plus-15 on that stat sheet’s plus/minus column.

Thanks to those efforts, one league exec can envision the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent pulling down even more money than previously anticipated once he hits the open market.

“It does not happen much that guys get paid off playoff runs, like it used to 20 years ago,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “But what he is doing is making a point to the Heat that they should bring him back. They are looking at some pretty big tax problems, and that makes it tough. But he has been showing how valuable he is to what they do.”

Deveney broke down the possibilities as follows:

If the Heat were to give Strus a three-year deal in the $25 million range, with the first season starting around $8 million, the team would wind up giving out about $24 million total for that first year. If Strus gets something more like three years and $35 million, that could get to $40 million.

Getting Kyle Lowry’s $30 million off the books after next season would mitigate that starting in 2024, though.

It would be expensive but surely the Heat do not want to lose Strus. It could come back to haunt them.

Bam Adebayo Makes an Appearance on Game 2 Injury Report

Fans watching the league’s official injury reports on Thursday were likely given pause — at least momentarily — when they saw Bam Adebayo’s name listed among the walking wounded. Alas, his availability for Game 2 isn’t currently in doubt.

Adebayo, who contributed 20 points, eight boards and five dimes to the Heat’s Game 1 victory, is currently listed as available despite the lingering discomfort in his right shoulder. So, too, is his backup Cody Zeller with his nasal fracture. Fellow big man Omer Yurtseven (nose contusion), meanwhile, is listed as questionable.

Long-termers Tyler Herro (broken hand) and Victor Oladipo (patellar tendon rupture) remain out.

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