Free Agent No. 2: Wesley Matthews, Wing
For this reunion we are going back: not to Philly, not to Minnesota, not even to Chicago. We are going back even further, to when Jimmy Butler was a sophomore for the Marquette Eagles. He played a small role as a high-energy defender, while the team was led by Wesley Matthews.
Matthews hit the NBA two seasons before Butler, first signing with the Utah Jazz as an undrafted free agent. He has played for seven different teams since then, including against Butler and the Heat in this season’s playoffs. He is a strong wing who can be a reserve option on the Heat and will certainly be available for the minimum.
Free Agent No. 1: Jae Crowder, Power Forward
We can double-dip to draw the connecting lines between Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder, as they were not only teammates on the 2019-20 Miami Heat but also on the 2010-11 Marquette Golden Eagles. Together, Crowder and Butler were starters on the Heat team in the Bubble that made it all the way to the NBA Finals. Could Crowder help them repeat their success?
Crowder has the defensive versatility to defend multiple positions, but he is best deployed as a stretch-4 at this point in his career. He had a shaky end to the season in Milwaukee, but his greater track record suggests he can still contribute as a defender and good-enough shooter.
Crowder had the best year of his career playing with the Heat and could try to recapture the magic on a small deal. That makes him the top player on our list for the Heat to pursue with their limited assets this summer.