This is a crucial offseason for the Miami Heat, a team with very little wiggle room because of their payroll. One mistake could set them back and stop them from taking that next step on their way to winning a championship.
Despite Miami’s surprising run to the Finals, it needed more to get the job done. The Jimmy Butler era has been a success: two finals appearances in four years. But still no rings, and winning a championship has been the stated goal of Butler, Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and the Heat organization.
Building a championship roster is, obviously, easier said than done. But here are three mistakes the Heat cannot afford to make this offseason.
1. Leave the offseason without a new star player
If Miami doesn’t get a co-star for Butler and Bam Adebayo, then this off-season will be a disaster. Miami needs to get a three-level scorer and, since Bradley Beal was traded to the Suns, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is the name most-often linked to the Heat.
The time is now for Miami to make a deal. Lillard should be Miami’s No. 1 option. He is what Miami is missing. The two-man game with Lillard and Adebayo is a match made in basketball heaven and would lessen the load on Butler offensively. Of course, Lillard has to first request a trade from Portland. The Heat, and many other organizations, are monitoring what’s going on in Portland. If a trade request from Lillard doesn’t materialize, the Heat might have to look elsewhere. Maybe Chicago’s Zach Lavine?
2. Stay small
If we learned anything in the NBA Finals, it’s that the Heat are too small. The midseason additions of Kevin Love and Cody Zeller were a quick and effective solution to Miami’s size problem when they were on the East side of the playoff bracket, but Denver’s size — with Nikola Jokic, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. — was overwhelming.
Already the East has gotten more difficult. The Celtics recently acquired 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porziņģis to help protect the rim, early reports out of Philadelphia are positive when it comes to new head coach Nick Nurse, who might be able to unlock Joel Embiid and the 76ers, and the Bucks behind Giannis Antetokounmpo should maintain their spot near the top of the conference.
The Heat need shooting and size in the front court next to Adebayo. Atlanta’s John Collins could be a good option and would bring a needed jolt of athleticism and floor spacing. The Adebayo and Collins high-low game would be exciting.
3. Run it back (again)
Yes, the Heat ran it back last season after being one shot away from the Finals, then got to the Finals. But they needed a historic shooting turnaround in the postseason, and the key midseason addition of Love (often credited for bringing a new, needed voice to the locker room), to do it. With rivals in the East getting better, it would be a mistake for the Heat to run back this core for a third straight season.
Miami is in “win now” mode, and everyone but Butler and Adebayo should be on the table if it means improving this roster. Already, the likes of Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo have been involved in trade rumors this summer. Max Strus and Gabe Vincent are free agents and might not return.
The Heat have mostly been linked to stars, but if that doesn’t happen they still need to make some changes on the margins. Size, shooting and athleticism are all areas of need. Not addressing these issues would result in a disaster of an offseason.
The time is now for the Heat to cash in their assets and add more talent to a team that is too often left on the doorstep of winning a championship.