Putting all of your eggs into one basket is never a smart idea. Coming into this off-season, it was clear that the Miami Heat along with half of the NBA was going to go after former MVP Kevin Durant, however only one team could bring his talent into their organization. If you have been under a rock, that team is the Golden State Warriors as KD announced his signing to the Bay Area in the Player’s Tribune this morning. Where do the Heat turn their focus to now?
First off, the Miami Heat managed to resign the budding star that is center Hassan Whiteside to a four year deal worth $98 million. Whiteside was a candidate for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award in the 2015-16 season when he nearly averaged four blocks per game, anchoring one of the league’s best defenses. With him returning, that gives them a place to start when thinking about next year.
Now the focus turns to twelve year veteran, Dwyane Wade, as he is the next domino to fall in the NBA’s free agency period. There have been reports that the two biggest threats to sign Wade away from Miami are the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks. Other teams that have been brought up have been the defending NBA champion, Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks, and Chicago Bulls.
Wade had one of his best seasons in a few years last season, playing in 74 games which is a season-high since 2010. He struggled remaining consistent at times, which resulted in a low scoring average for his standards at 19 points per game, but was able to show his all-star caliber play in the playoffs with magnificent performances in the two series that Miami played in, specifically the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Toronto Raptors when it seemed like Wade was the only player trying to reach an ECF bid. He put up back-to-back thirty point performances, in which the team won one and last the other, but in the process showed teams what he is capable of, which is probably why many teams have contacted him this summer.
It is essential that the Miami Heat throw everything they can at their former top five pick, if they want to remain somewhat competitive in the Eastern conference. Wade tweeted something out after the Durant signing that has me questioning what his intentions are.
This could mean many different things. Was it a slight at Durant? Maybe even at Pat Riley? Or it could be a hint at him joining up with best friend Lebron James?
If Wade does decide to take his talents elsewhere, the Miami Heat suddenly become very thin at the shooting guard and small forward positions, even more than they are now with starter Luol Deng and big-time contributor in the second half of the season Joe Johnson leaving to get their money. Deng signed a four year deal worth $72M to become the veteran presence in the Los Angeles Lakers locker room while Joe Johnson is headed for Salt Lake City to the Utah Jazz on a two year deal for $22M. To make matters worse, the Heat front office must decide how much young guard Tyler Johnson is worth to them as he signed an offer sheet worth $50M with the Brooklyn Nets for four years, so the Heat can either match their offer or let him walk.
With everything that has occurred, along with they do not match Tyler Johnson, the Heat’s roster is as follows (of course would need to be filled out):
PG: Goran Dragic, Briante Weber
SG: Josh Richardson
SF: Justise Winslow
PF: Chris Bosh (IF he can play), Josh McRoberts
C: Hassan Whiteside
That lineup is not as bad as it may seem, but the best they could be is probably the eight seed in the East, which is not ideal. Now you see how much Wade, as old as he may be, is important to this team. The Miami Heat could also bring back veterans Amare Stoudemire, Gerald Green, and Udonis Haslem to fill out the roster around other possible free agent signings.
There are still plenty of free agents out there for the Heat to pursue, and could create some cap space if they find a suitor for guard Goran Dragic, who signed a five year deal for $85M last off-season.
At best, I see the Miami Heat being able to be around the middle of the pack in the Eastern conference again (essentially the same roster), but could be in a much worse situation if Bosh is unable to play, Wade signs elsewhere, and their number one offensive option is Hassan Whiteside. If that ends up being the case, look out for the Heat in the lottery next year and a possible Pat Riley retirement.