Burning Qs: What if the Heat keep Tyler Herro?

Apr 1, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) shoots against Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock (25) during the first quarter at Miami-Dade Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2023; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) shoots against Dallas Mavericks forward Reggie Bullock (25) during the first quarter at Miami-Dade Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports /

Welcome to another “Burning Questions” Miami Heat mailbag!

As always, you can submit your questions to me on Twitter/Threads @wcgoldberg or email them to wcgoldberg@gmail.com. Alright, fire away!

If they can keep Herro, that’s the move. Regardless of fit, positional need, etc., you keep the better player/asset every time. The non-Herro package is likely built around sending out both of Miami’s most recent first-round picks, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic. As tantalizing as Jovic is and promising Jaquez might be, Herro is a proven 20-point per game scorer. Having him to go along with Damian Lillard might look clunky at first, but you can never have enough scoring in today’s NBA and the Heat would be betting on Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Erik Spoelstra’s schemes to be enough to carry them on defense.

There are two ways to counter a lack of size in the NBA: Get more size, or space the floor enough to make the opponent take size off the court. Having Lillard — the league’s most threatening 3-point shooter outside of San Francisco — in Miami forces opponents to adjust. It would have made Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis have to come out and defend beyond the 3-point line instead of camping near the basket where they could defend the rim and gobble up rebounds. I agree with you that the Heat do need to address the size issue, but the biggest need was always scoring. Getting Lillard is a great way to (directly and indirectly) address both.

I think Duncan Robinson’s playoff performance did wonders for his confidence. After shooting 36% from 3-point range over the last two regular seasons, Robinson made 44% of his 3s in the postseason. He also flashed some driving and playmaking skills and, most importantly, stayed on the court because he limited his fouling. Whether he’s on the Heat next season or not, Robinson should get closer to his 40% 3-point shooting clip and start to look more like the player that signed the five-year, $90 million extension a couple of years ago.

OK, so without Lillard, I’d go:

PG: Tyler Herro
SG: Josh Richardson
SF: Jimmy Butler
PF: Christian Wood*
C: Bam Adebayo

(With Kyle Lowry, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Thomas Bryant/Orlando Robinson playing nightly roles off the bench.)

Why would I start Herro and Richardson without a true point guard? Because Miami’s offense operates better with Adebayo facilitating at the top of the square, and this lineup provides enough playmaking (Butler can also run the offense) with optimal spacing and enough defense. Herro and Adebayo have a burgeoning two-man game that I think the Heat should lean into more if Herro remains in Miami, and Richardson is a perfect plug-and-play, 3-and-D guard to slot alongside him.

Signing Wood at a minimum is a worthwhile gamble. He can space the floor from the corners, create his own offense and grab rebounds. His defensive limitations and tunnel-vision on offense are concerning, but Spoelstra should be able to get more out of him.

There’s enough shooting, size and defensive versatility to make this one of the more balanced five-man groups in the league.

Here’s the issue: Butler is 33. If the Heat want to maximize his window, they have maybe this summer and next to find him an elite co-star. If the Lillard thing falls through, I’d imagine the Heat would spend the rest of the year looking for alternatives.

Could they circle back to James Harden if his situation isn’t resolved in Philadelphia? Somewhat relatedly, would the Clippers explore breaking up Paul George and Kawhi Leonard? Does something give with Joel Embiid? Could the Cavs look to trade Donovan Mitchell before he’s up for an extension? The Heat would have about a calendar year to explore all of these kind of options.

If nothing materialized by then, maybe they could go the other way: Trade Butler to a contender for whatever they can get and begin a rebuild around Adebayo, Herro, Jaquez, Jovic and others. But a lot has to go wrong between now and then for that to fully be on the table.

Next. Best remaining free agents. dark