Can Tyler Herro lead Heat, avoid trade block this offseason?

If Tyler Herro leads the Miami Heat past the No.1 seed Boston Celtics to a deep run, he can potentially save himself from being traded this offseason. The question is: can he?
Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Play-In Tournament
Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat - Play-In Tournament / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Tyler Herro’s 24-point, 10-rebound and nine-assist performance last Friday night did more than help the Miami Heat escape the play-in tournament. It gave Heat Nation the confidence that this team is capable of staging another miraculous playoff run. “We want Boston,” Kaseya Center roared in unison during the waning moments of the 112-91 win over the Bulls.

Those boisterous chants made it easy to forget that no No. 8 seed has toppled the No. 1 seed in back-to-back years. Or how the Heat will be without star Jimmy Butler for their upcoming series with the Boston Celtics. 

But if Herro dazzles as he did Friday, he could lead Miami to a deep postseason run which saves Miami from having to go star-shopping this summer. More importantly for Herro, he can prevent himself from being on the trade block once again.

“I love this position, honestly, a lot of people didn’t think we were going to win tonight,” Herro said after Friday’s win. “I feel like we are better when our backs are against the wall anyways.”

But if Herro can’t step up and Miami is walloped by Boston, the Heat’s front office will have added pressure to trade for someone to pair with Butler.

By injuring himself against Philadelphia, Butler revealed his basketball mortality. Though some of his best basketball has come past the age of 30, the end of Butler’s career is coming – sooner rather than later. After all, he’ll enter next season at the age of 35. Outside of Lebron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, no 35-year-old has helped lead an NBA franchise to a championship since 1976.

And let’s be honest here. Butler is good, but nowhere near the caliber of James or Abdul-Jabbar. 

Miami can relate. The roster is peppered with strong rotation pieces and Bam Adebayo, a three-time All-Star and one of the league’s prime defenders. But this roster just isn’t capable of winning a championship.

One problem: Miami doesn’t have cap space to splurge on difference-makers this offseason. For the 2024-25 season, Miami currently has the sixth-highest luxury tax payroll ($182,298,756). This means Miami will have to make a trade to capitalize on Butler’s constantly shrinking championship window. One potential trade candidate is the Cleveland Cavaliers Donovan Mitchell.

"That (Mitchell situation) is very real,” an anonymous team executive recently told Josh Robbins and Sam Amick of The Athletic. “Teams will definitely clear out a bunch of (assets) for him. We'll see. But if they face Boston in the second round, they'll probably lose. And yeah, that doesn't bode well (for his future in Cleveland)."

Doesn’t “bode well” for Cleveland’s future, but quite the contrary for Miami’s. Though Mitchell played in 55 games this year, he made the All-Star team, averaged 26.6 points and a career-high 6.1 assists. Last year, he finished sixth in MVP Voting.

Plus, Mitchell provides Miami that crucial second option so if Butler struggles – or goes down – their season isn’t decimated. But creating space for Mitchell likely means trading promising youngsters like Nikola Jovic or Jaime Jaquez Jr., draft picks and Herro.

Few could blame Miami for wanting to do it. Prospective teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers would be foolish to not take Herro seriously. In the 2023-24 regular season, Herro averaged 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists. And, yes, he only played 42 games. But in eight games since returning from a foot injury, Herro averaged 23.3 points proving that his injury isn’t a cause for concern.

Simultaneously, few would blame Herro if he’s upset. This could be the third summer he’s spent wondering if he’ll play in Miami or be flung somewhere else in North America. All because the Heat think he’s good enough to be traded for a star but not good enough to be a star in Miami himself.

Two summers ago, it was for Mitchell – yes, that Mitchell – or Kevin Durant. Then last summer it was for Damian Lilliard. But Portland shooed Herro away, deciding that he didn’t align with their needs.

"I didn't want to go to Portland, so I'm glad Portland didn't want me," Herro told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman last fall.

Therein lies why performing well now is vital for Herro’s headspace: Beyond mulling over the unknown, he could save himself the energy of having to avoid chatter about his on-court value.

Despite boasting a Sixth Man of the Year and just averaging 20.1 points, Herro was lambasted.

“Are you out of your minds, Heat Nation? No, Tyler Herro and three first-round picks is not a good deal for Portland,” wrote The Athletic’s David Aldridge. “Like, I’ll trade you my ’09 Camaro with shot brakes and three bald spares to you for your ’22 Benz with 253 miles on it. What? Sounds fair!"

That’s why this upcoming playoffs is so imperative. By showing that he’s far more than a one-way scorer, Herro can shut up any and all doubters this offseason. Because they will be coming. Especially, if it comes after an underwhelming playoff performance a year after the Miami Heat ascended from eighth seed to NBA Finals runner-ups without him.

Here we are a year later. 

The Heat are once again facing the No. 1 seed in the first round. Only difference now is that they’re without Butler and premier scorer Terry Rozier (neck) has been ruled out for the first two games. Plus, they’re facing a historically dominant Boston Celtics squad.

And, one year later, Herro is having to play his way off the trade block.

“I want to get myself to a place where I’m not thinking about if I’m getting traded every summer,” Herro told The Ringer’s Wes Goldberg in October.

Well, Herro, here’s your chance.