Miami Heat's roster coming into focus after latest contract decisions

Orlando Magic v Miami Heat
Orlando Magic v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

With Josh Richardson opting into his contract, the Miami Heat are beginning to get clarity on their roster as free agency begins.

According to the Miami Herald, Richardson has picked up the $3.1 million player option in his contract for next season to remain with the Heat. The organization is awaiting decisions from Kevin Love ($4 million player option) and Thomas Bryant ($2.8 million) and an official word from Caleb Martin ($7.1 million).

They have until 5 p.m. Saturday to decide whether to return to the Heat or become unrestricted free agents.

Martin is expected to decline his player option and become a free agent, where he will have the opportunity to sign a more lucrative, long-term contract.

The Miami Heat will have most of their roster sorted out by the time free agency begins, but there are still some big decisions left for the front office to make.

The Heat enter Saturday with 11 players under contract:

  • Bam Adebayo
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Tyler Herro
  • Terry Rozier
  • Jaime Jaquez Jr.
  • Duncan Robinson
  • Josh Richardson
  • Nikola Jovic
  • Orlando Robinson
  • Kel'el Ware
  • Pelle Larsson

Love opting into his contract, as expected, would make that 12. What Bryant decides to do, after the Heat used the 15th pick in the draft on another center in Kel’el Ware, is more of a question. Bryant is a positive presence in the locker room but was inconsistent in his first year in Miami. If he doesn’t think he’ll get much opportunity next season, he could opt out and seek playing time elsewhere.

The Heat also announced Friday that they have extended qualifying offers to Cole Swider and Alondes Williams, making them restricted free agents. The Heat will have an opportunity to match any outside offers. Both finished last season on two-way contracts and could compete for a two-way or standard roster spot next season. Swider and Williams are expected to participate on the Heat’s Summer League team.

[Related: Heat working on running it back next season after Jimmy Butler's decision]

Meanwhile, Jamal Cain, who has been on one of Miami’s two-ways the last two seasons, is not expected back. He was only eligible for a qualifying offer at the veteran minimum on a standard contract. With the Heat declining to extend that offer, Cain will become an unrestricted free agent.

The Heat only have one two-way spot left after agreeing to two-way deals with a pair of undrafted free agents: Florida guard Zyon Pullin and Arizona forward Keshad Johnson.

Because of their position as a luxury tax team, the Heat will be limited to offering veteran minimum contracts to free agents this summer to fill out the roster.

One other player whose future is uncertain? Forward Haywood Highsmith. The Heat and Highsmith reportedly were in touch on a new contract but no deal has been reached. Because they hold his Bird rights, the Heat could bring Highsmith back next season at a deal higher than the minimum, but doing so could create a salary-cap crunch that Miami would need to sort out.