The commencement of NBA free agency is less than two weeks away. Pat Riley, along with Andy Elisburg and the rest of the Miami Heat front office have some very tough decisions to make. First, they will need to analyze their own free agents and decide if they are worth hanging onto or letting them walk. The Heat have four different types of free agents this offseason which are player options, unrestricted, restricted, and two-way.
In this article, I will predict Miami Heat free agency decisions, and who I believe will be re-signed or let go.
Miami Heat 2021 Free Agency – Stay or Go?
Unrestricted Free Agents
The Victor Oladipo situation is a very interesting one. Oladipo was acquired by the Miami Heat at last season’s trade deadline from the Houston Rockets. The fit between Oladipo and the Heat seemed almost perfect immediately. Victor provided tremendous point-of-attack defense as well as a three-level scoring threat. However, Oladipo only ended up playing four games for the Heat before once again injuring his knee. Following this injury, Oladipo received season-ending right quadriceps surgery and could possibly be ready to play again in November according to Adrian Wojnarowski. After his multitude of injuries, it is tough to see a team investing large money or multiple years to Victor. It makes sense if Oladipo and the Heat run it back for another year on a low–cost contract.
The Heat acquired Dewayne Dedmon towards the end of the regular season on April 8. Dedmon immediately came in and fixed the Heat’s backup center problem. In 16 games, Dedmon averaged 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds. Dedmon seemed to get along well with his coaches and teammates and repeatedly said that he would love to be back in Miami. It would seem as though the Heat and Dedmon could reach a deal for the veteran minimum.
Like Oladipo, the Heat acquired Nemanja Bjelica at last season’s trade deadline. The plan was to use Bjelica as a stretch big off the bench. However, the fit never worked out and Bjelica was quickly out of the rotation.
Decision: Let Walk
The decision is quite simple with the unquestioned leader and captain of the Miami Heat, Udonis Haslem. If Haslem decides not to retire and return for his 19th year with the franchise, he will be welcomed back with open arms.
Trevor Ariza was acquired on March 17 from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Like Oladipo and Dedmon, Ariza immediately came in and filled a hole on the roster. He was given the starting power forward position and performed very solid. Ariza averaged 9.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and one steal per game. Ariza and Miami will probably look to reunite on a deal around the veteran minimum.
Restricted Free Agents
Kendrick Nunn‘s years in Miami have been nothing short of spectacular. Nunn, 25, has improved from year to year. He went from an undrafted, G-League player to an NBA starting point guard. For his career, he is averaging 15 points 2.9 rebounds, and three assists per game. It would seem that all signs would point to keeping Nunn, right? Well, the situation is much trickier. In the past, the Heat have retained a couple of good but not great players in Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Tyler Johnson. The Heat came to regret the price point for all of those contracts. In my estimation, Nunn will get paid between $13-15 million per year on most likely a four-year deal. It may be in the Heat’s best interest to save that money and pursue a Kyle Lowry-type player instead, one of the toughest Miami Heat free agency decisions.
Decision: Let Walk
Like Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson‘s time in Miami has also been spectacular. He also went from being an undrafted, G-League player to becoming an NBA starter. Robinson has turned himself into one of the most lethal shooters in the entire world. Duncan is a career 42% 3-point shooter on 7.8 attempts. In my estimation, Duncan will receive a contract somewhere between $15-20 million for 3-4 years. The Heat ran a very dribble handoff-centric offense with Robinson included in most actions. With 3-point shooting being such a premium in today’s game, it would be hard to see Miami letting Robinson go.
Miami Heat Free Agency- Team Options
Goran Dragic has been an exceptional player for the Heat since he was acquired from the Phoenix Suns in 2015. Dragic was arguably the Heat’s second or third best player on their finals run from a year ago. However, Goran Dragic began to show some signs of aging last season. His salary for the next season would be $19.4 million if the Heat were to pick up his option. They are likely to do this because if a star player became available, Dragic’s contract would be used to make the financial side of the trade work.
Decision: Option is Picked Up
The situation with Dragic is the same with Andre Iguodala. Iguodala’s salary number is $15 million for next season so if the Heat want to facilitate a trade for a star, the option will need to be picked up.
Decision: Option is Picked Up
Miami Heat Free Agency- Two-Way Players
Max Strus and Gabe Vincent
During last season’s pandemic-filled year, both Max Strus and Gabe Vincent saw a decent amount of game action. Strus is a very good 3-point shooter who has the body frame to develop into a good defender. Vincent, on the other hand, is a very good defender at the point of attack. He was changed his shooting technique over the past season so he has potential in that facet. I believe Miami will tender both of them making them restricted free agents.
Decision: Re-sign Both
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