Miami Heat: What is Kelly Olynyk going to do with his player option?

Kelly Olynyk #9 of the Miami Heat is defended by Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Kelly Olynyk #9 of the Miami Heat is defended by Lauri Markkanen #24 of the Chicago Bulls. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Now an integral part of the Miami Heat core, Kelly Olynyk has a decision to make regarding free agency in the form of a player option.

As Miami Heat or NBA fans and executives look to the upcoming offseason, could the Miami Heat and Kelly Olynyk be headed separate ways?

The Heat have a number of free agency decisions to mull over this offseason. But that all starts with Kelly Olynyk. The 29-year old forward has become a vital piece of the team’s core after just three seasons in South Beach.

On the way, he’s got a $12.3 player option for the 2020-2021 season.

Coming off of a season where he averaged 7.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, Olynyk could very well brave the waters of free agency and test his market value.

This offseason doesn’t feature too many “splash” level free agents and even after the hit the cap has taken amid the coronavirus pandemic, Olynyk could still see a nice pay raise.

But on the other hand, Miami is a top-10 team in the NBA. They’ve got a legitimate chance at making a run next season behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Could the Heat forward ultimately decide to remain in a situation suited for success?

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The teams that have serious cap space this offseason (New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies, Atlanta Hawks) aren’t necessarily capable of making the same postseason promises as Miami.

But Olynyk did just turn 29. This one year could be the difference-maker in his value on what he’s hoping will be one last significant contract. The forward no doubt has some thinking to do and the Heat front office will be sitting idly by until then.

With hopes of this offseason serving as a precursor to the “whale hunting” they plan on doing next summer, Miami has to approach this free agency strategically. They’ve already been linked to guys like Danilo Gallinari, who’ll be commanding a strong contract.

Yet it all starts and very well could end, with Kelly Olynyk. If he exercises his player option to remain with the Miami Heat for the 2020-2021 season, things suddenly get a lot less interesting.

But if he doesn’t–and enters free agency–well, Miami will immediately become a large player. An extra $12-million and change to have in this free agency market is an incredible asset.

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Smart money says Kelly Olynyk will take his $12.3 million and give it another go in free agency next summer. But if he doesn’t, the Miami Heat will suddenly face a much wider berth of options.