The Miami Heat made a surprising run to the 2022-23 NBA Finals after sneaking into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat finished with the conference’s seventh-best record at 44-38 but fell to the Atlanta Hawks in the first play-in game. The Heat then defeated the Chicago Bulls to secure the final spot.
2023-24 NBA Power Rankings Offseason Edition: No. 13 Miami Heat
Miami went on a fantastic playoff run. Miami dispatched an ailing Milwaukee Bucks squad 4-1 in the opening round and eliminated the New York Knicks in round two. The Heat jumped out to a 3-0 series lead on the Celtics, but the C’s were able to extend the series to seven games. They ended up being overmatched in the NBA Finals by the World Champion Denver Nuggets (4-1).
2023 NBA Eastern Conference MVP Jimmy Butler propelled the Heat’s playoff run. In 22 postseason games, Butler produced 26.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.9 steals. He registered a shooting slash line of .468/.359/.806. Bam Adebayo also had a solid postseason. Meanwhile, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and Kyle Lowry had their moments. The Heat lost Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo to injuries in their first-round series against the Bucks.
Miami’s roster is going to look different in 2023-24 and could be unrecognizable if the Heat can pry Damian Lillard away from the Portland Trail Blazers. The Heat lost Vincent in free agency. They traded Strus to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Miami did re-sign Kevin Love and restricted free agent Orlando Robinson. The Heat also brought in free agents Thomas Bryant and Josh Richardson. The Heat selected Jaime Jaquez Jr. with the No. 18 overall pick.
Miami recently signed five players to Exhibit 10 contracts to give the Heat a full training camp roster of 21 players.
Miami Summer League
The Heat went 4-3 during summer league action, with two games in Sacramento and five in Las Vegas. However, several players put together a strong summer league campaign.
Robinson, who played on a two-way contract, was the most impressive of the bunch. The first-team All-2K24 selection was highly efficient and fantastic on the glass. But more impressively, Robinson showed off a newfound shooting stroke from behind the arc, making 8 0f 21 shots from deep. Overall, the 23-year-old power forward compiled one double-double and averaged 20.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.6 steals.
Other Notable Performances
Jamaree Bouyea, who appeared in five games for the Heat, enters his second straight season on a two-way deal. The 24-year-old is a true point guard capable of running an offense and getting after it on the defensive end. He averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.4 steals in five appearances.
Jamal Cain is also back with the organization on another two-way deal. The 24-year-old forward had hoped to earn a standard contract after appearing in 18 contests for the Heat last season. Cain had a nice summer session with 15.5 points and 4.8 rebounds with a shooting slash line of .515/.381/.882.
Another player on a two-way contract, Dru Smith, also had a good summer session. The 6-foot-3 combo guard is a scorer who appeared in 15 games combined for Miami and Brooklyn. Smith struggled offensively, but he was fantastic on the defensive end, recording 2.6 steals a game.
Meanwhile, the Heat’s two recent first-round picks had their moments during the summer league; they were average at best. Nikola Jovic, who appeared in 15 early games for the Heat last season, showed an impressive ability to run the floor and finish through contact in four games. But the 2021 first-round pick struggled shooting the ball overall and with turnovers.
Jaquez had a solid first game in the California Summer League but wasn’t as good in game two before getting injured. Jaquez did shoot it well from beyond the arc, making four of nine.
Best Offseason Move: Re-signing Kevin Love
While Jaquez was a great draft pick for the Heat as he fits the type of player Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley like, re-signing Love was essential. This move will prove more critical if the trade for Lillard goes through. The Heat inked Love to a two-year, $7.8 million contract this summer with a player option for next year.
Love was a late addition to the Heat after being bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 35-year-old forward is coming off the lowest-scoring and worst-shooting season of his career. However, he was still a force on the glass and has improved defensively in his later years.
In 21 games for Miami, with 17 starts, Love averaged 7.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists over 20 minutes. Love drained 1.4 treys with a shooting slash line of .388/.297/.632. Love and Martin are expected to split time at power forward this year.
Worst Offseason Move: Not Applicable
This is a hard question. The Heat was hamstrung in two ways this summer. They didn’t have much flexibility in cap space, with Butler, Adabayo, Lowry, Herro, and Robinson accounting for over $152 million in salary. Therefore, the Heat couldn’t afford to keep Vincent or Strus.
I could say not trading Lowry or Robinson was also a bad decision. But the Heat needs a partner to make a trade work, and neither player has any value – though Lowry’s expiring contract does have some appeal. Plus, at least one of those two players may be part of the potential Lillard trade.
What’s Next: Trading For Lillard
Miami has put all its eggs this season in the Lillard basket. If the Heat can’t work out a deal, they may be destined to take a step backward.
Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald believes the trade talk between the Heat and Trail Blazers could heat up as training camp gets closer.
“There really has been no reason for the Trail Blazers to rush into a deal, but soon there will be. Training camps around the NBA open on Oct. 3. That date will at least create some sense of urgency for Portland to find a deal in order to avoid Lillard, arguably the greatest player in Trail Blazers history, coming into camp and making the situation even messier than it already is.”
Whether the Lillard trade goes through or not, Miami has work to do with their roster. The Heat currently have 13 players on standard contracts, one fewer than the league minimum. Point guard and power forward are the Heat’s biggest areas of need.