Miami Heat offseason mailbag: Jimmy Butler's options this summer

Do the Miami Heat need to resolve the Jimmy Butler situation sooner rather than later? And what position will Bam Adebayo play next season?
Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Three
Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Three / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Welcome to the Miami Heat offseason mailbag! Every week, I’ll jump on here and try my best to answer your questions and provide some explanations during what should be an eventful summer. Let’s do it.

As always, thanks to everyone who sent in questions on X. It’s also where you can send future mailbag questions.

Both sides have made their stance in potential negotiations public. Pat Riley used his end-of-season press conference to let Jimmy Butler know that he’d rather have a conversation about a new contract next summer. Butler has made it known that he wants a max contract extension (two years worth $113 million after this upcoming season) with the Heat or whoever will pay him, and he wants it now.

This is about as far apart as two parties can get, but that’s also part of negotiating. My question is whether Riley will entertain a contract negotiation at all. There are no reports of an upcoming meeting and there’s no rule that says they have to have one. Who calls the other first? Is Butler, at the end of the day, willing to take less than the max to stay in Miami?

Both sides could actually be incentivized to wait.

From the Heat’s perspective, they could be more willing to pay Butler the max extension if they can first land a superstar talent to pair with him. If they were to trade for, let’s say, Donovan Mitchell, it makes more sense to overpay Butler now to field a team that can win a championship.

But if they can't land that star, then the Heat could decide that a team that has been in the play-in tournament for two straight seasons and didn’t make a major upgrade isn’t worth the expensive payroll.

For Butler, it helps to wait and see if the Heat make that needle-moving addition before making his decision. He’ll also want to see what happens with Paul George. If George spurns the 76ers and returns to the Clippers, then Philadelphia is reportedly expected to make an offer for Butler. That gives Butler more leverage over the Heat.

Teams can legally negotiate contract extensions starting the day after the Finals end, but I don’t expect Butler’s situation will be resolved that quickly. I think it takes a while.

Bam Adebayo is also extension eligible this summer, although there’s less of a rush to get it done and it could make more sense for him to negotiate an extension next summer. Either way, the Heat view Bam as a fixture of the franchise and Bam has no plans of playing anywhere else.

Adebayo is 26 and entering his prime. He’s a three-time All-Star and will compete for Team USA for the second time this summer. The Olympics is where a lot of recruiting is done and fans hope Bam can recruit the Heat’s next star… but whose to say other stars won’t be recruiting Bam to leave Miami and play for their teams?

Bam wants to win and the Heat want to win, and there’s no reason for either to question their future together. It's not time to worry, but the Heat can’t take Bam for granted.

I’m less fixated on the position than I am the skillset – and I suspect the Heat are too.

The one thing the Heat need next to Bam is shooting. Period. Even with Bam experimenting with his 3-point shot last season he’s far from being respected as an outside shooter who can create space with the threat of his jumper.

Nikola Jovic shooting 40% from 3 is a big reason why he ended the season as the starting power forward.

Beyond 3-point shooting, the Heat could use size, rebounding and shot-blocking. That skillset is consistent with a center. If the Heat had a Myles Turner or Brook Lopez on the roster, then Bam could theoretically slide down to the 4.

But the Heat also need offensive firepower and space for Bam and Butler to attack the paint, and a bigger wing could be a more dynamic player than a lumbering 7-footer.

I think the Heat will look at both options and go with a deal that makes sense. The marketplace could dictate what position Bam is playing next season more than Miami’s preference (if they have one).

Are we sure the Heat are averse to building through the draft? 

Take a look at the core rotation players from last season: Terry Rozier (acquired via trade), Tyler Herro (draft), Jimmy Butler (trade), Nikola Jovic (draft), Bam Adebayo (draft), Duncan Robinson (two-way development), Caleb Martin (two-way development), Haywood Highsmith (two-way development), Jaime Jaquez Jr. (draft), Josh Richardson (free agent after being drafted and developed by the Heat) and Kevin Love (free agent).

Of those 11 rotation players, eight came directly from the draft or the Heat’s development pipeline. Quietly, the Heat have already become a team built through the draft.

Riley and the Heat have acknowledged that, to build depth under the current salary cap structure, teams need to find contributors through the draft. 

On the agenda in order of priority:

  1. Trade for a star
  2. Keep Jimmy Butler
  3. Re-sign one of Caleb Martin or Haywood Highsmith
  4. Add depth at the forward and center positions