The Miami Heat are still hoping to convince the Portland Trail Blazers that they should help Damian Lillard land in his preferred destination. Currently, Portland doesn’t seem inclined to send him to Miami, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweeted.
Meanwhile, as of early this week, Portland was still showing no interest in doing a deal with Heat, who visit Blazers in late Feb. in what is reportedly Portland's only national TV game. To me, Lillard has much of leverage based on how messy he's willing to make this (unknown) https://t.co/y3cxhIbI2A
— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) August 17, 2023
NBA Rumors: Heat’s Erik Spoelstra Happy With Roster, Little To Do
Miami hasn’t done much this offseason, as they hoped to have a deal done for Lillard by now. Through the first month of free agency, the Heat had 15 players under contract, including two with two-way deals. Their biggest moves were trading Max Strus and Victor Oladipo to free up some money for Lillard and re-signing Kevin Love. They also lost Gabe Vincent to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.
However, the Heat decided last week that they couldn’t wait any longer to complete their roster. Last Friday (August 11), Miami officially announced the signing of free agents Drew Peterson, Alondes Williams, Justin Champagnie, Caleb Daniels, and Cole Swider to Exhibit 10 training camp deals. Jamal Cain also finally signed his qualifying offer to return to the team on a two-way contract that day.
Adding those six players gives Miami 21 players, the maximum a team can take to training camp.
While Miami is still hopeful of landing Lillard at some point, head coach Erik Spoelstra is content with the Heat’s offseason and ready to move forward with the roster as it is. Spoelstra, who is with Team USA in Abu Dhabi preparing for the FIBA World Cup, spoke to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on NBA Today on Thursday.
“We had most of our work done. We’re bringing back the majority of our players and that’s a luxury in this league. Things are so transient, things are moving fast. It seems like it’s moving faster now than even four, five, six years ago. We feel great about our group.”
“We feel great about our group. We made some nice additions, we feel. Josh Richardson, getting another family member back into our program. Thomas Bryant, who we’ve been a big fan of. And [Jaime] Jaquez as our draft pick. We’re excited. He’s a guy you can plug and play right now. He’s a little bit older and he has a great deal of experience. So we’re adding those guys to our mix and bringing everybody back. Tyler [Herro]is healthy, Jimmy [Butler] and Bam [Adebayo], that’s a great core. So we’re excited about it.”
Heat’s Training Camp Roster
PG – Kyle Lowry, Jamarea Bouyea (2-way), Alondes Williams (TC)
SG- Tyler Herro, Jason Richardson, Jaime Jacquez, Dru Smith (2-way), Caleb Daniels (TC)
SF – Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson, Jamal Cain (2-way), Justin Champaignie (TC), Cole Swider (TC), Drew Peterson (TC)
C- Bam Adebayo, Thomas Bryant, Orlando Robinson
2-way: Players on two-way deals
TC: Players on training camp contracts
As indicated above, despite having a full training camp roster, Miami still has things to figure out. The Heat only have 13 players on standard contracts, one below the league minimum. Robinson’s $1.8 million contract is only partially guaranteed.
Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald noted that a new NBA rule states that teams can have fewer than 14 standard contract players for no more than 28 total days or 14 consecutive days at a time.
Miami does have a pretty versatile roster. In addition to figuring out, who will take the 14th spot and potentially the 15th spot on the roster, the Heat needs to settle on a starter at power forward. Love and Martin are the two leading candidates for the job.
The following is what Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sentinel about the Heat’s power forward situation.
“It possibly could wind up like during the playoffs, where it’s situational, with Kevin Love starting against bigger front lines and Caleb Martin starting against small-ball alignments.”
“But Erik Spoelstra has shown during the regular season that lineup continuity is the preference. Still, several factors could come into play.
“Foremost, if Jimmy Butler misses the expected 20 or so games, then Caleb could be the option to start at small forward (if it’s not Josh Richardson). And I also could envision Spoelstra toying with Love as his backup center, which could reduce the chance of Kevin starting. Still lots of moving parts, and lots of time before a decision is needed. Heck, Haywood Highsmith could potentially also enter the equation at power forward.”
Miami also could use a veteran backup point guard.
Miami Has Options For Final Roster Spot
While Miami has to carry 14 players on its roster, it is unlikely that the Heat will carry a full 15 to start the season. Teams like to keep an open spot to add players down the road. Not maintaining a full roster allows them not to have to cut a player if they decide to add someone, which is highly beneficial, especially if there is a major injury.
Everything could change if the Heat can bring Lillard in before the season. If that happens, the Heat’s entire roster will change, as there have been rumors that the Blazers may want to include Jusuf Nurkic in any trade.
But for now, let’s assume the Heat will have their current roster.
In that case, Cain, Smith, Swider, and Champagnie are the most likely players to earn the 14th spot. All have NBA experience. When Swider agreed to a training camp invite, Chiang tweeted that he would have a chance to compete for a two-way spot or a place on the 15-man roster.
Cole Swider agreed to sign an Exhibit 10 contract with the Heat, according to a source. He'll have a chance to compete for a two-way contract or possibly a spot on the 15-man roster in camp.
— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) August 6, 2023
In his article, Chiang also said that free agents Christian Wood and Kelly Oubre Jr. are candidates for the final spot. Wood, who the Los Angeles Lakers are also pursuing, makes the most sense of all the options. Wood has said that he would love to join Miami. However, the Heat are currently only able to offer Wood around the veteran minimum.