Heat

Miami’s Spending Spree Seems Like a Success

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After their spending spree, the Miami Heat’s 2021 outlook seems much better than 2020’s.

Miami added three guys that fit the culture like a glove, brought back most of their own, and let the inferior players that would fall out of the rotation walk. What does each new face bring and what does each re-signing mean?

Free-Agent Signings

Miami did what they needed to do. They went out and got the best available player. They also signed two key role players that could serve as vital additions down the line. All three newcomers have at least one thing in common: a Finals win.

Kyle Lowry: 3-year, $85M deal

Finally, Kyle Lowry is headed to South Beach.

The longtime Toronto Raptor comes down to the 305 on a deal that pays him $28.3M per year on average. Lowry was reportedly almost traded to Miami at the deadline, though the Raps supposedly demanded Tyler Herro in return, which blew up the conversation. Pat Riley handled this situation tremendously, inking Lowry and keeping their best trade asset in Herro.

The Heat checked the box of their top need in this offseason– a true point guard. No disrespect to Goran Dragic, but he became more of a scoring guard in his later years. The Heat’s primary ball-handler and playmaker was Jimmy Butler. When Jimmy was off the court, the offense would often stagnate and look lost.

With Lowry at the helm, Miami can make a true title push. The Villanova product averaged 17.2 points and 7.3 assists per game last year. His pick-and-roll game is only going to elevate Bam Adebayo‘s rolling prowess. Lowry’s ball-handling skills will allow Jimmy to conserve more energy since he won’t be exerting all of his stamina at point guard. Duncan Robinson will have many more open shots since he won’t be doing dribble hand-offs with Bam as often.

Additionally, Lowry’s defense is something the Heat haven’t seen in a long time and it is a skill that will allow them to go toe-to-toe with the East’s best.

Kyle Lowry is a great leader and an exceptional defender. As a point guard, he will bring important skills to run the offense, score the ball and defend with the very best.” – Pat Riley

PJ Tucker: 2-year, $15M deal

After Lowry, P.J. Tucker is the next-best addition for Miami. When one thinks about Tucker’s game, he is known as a tough, gritty defender that can knock down the corner three with the best of them. This fits seamlessly in Miami’s system. His defensive versatility is next to none. For that price tag, it is one of the better value signings in all of free agency.

Tucker was a vital piece in the Milwaukee Bucks’ title run. Against the Nets, Tucker picked up the assignment of guarding the league’s most lethal scorer in Kevin Durant, spending just over 59 minutes of game time on him. In that time frame, KD shot 45.5% from the field– a drop from his season average of 53.4%.

He was instrumental in shutting down the Point God as well. In the Finals, Tucker held Chris Paul to 21.4% from the field. He is one of few players in the NBA that can have zero points but be one of the most impactful players on the court.

Tuck has #HeatCulture written all over him.

P.J. Tucker is the perfect addition to this team. He brings both shooting and most importantly, the ability to defend a lot of perimeter players… We love his versatility in order to put a defensive team on the court, where all five guys can defend, while also having enough shooting and scoring to win games.” – Pat Riley

https://twitter.com/NBAonTNT/status/1401324280621584384?s=20

Markieff Morris: 1-year, $1.7M deal

An under-the-radar signing, Markieff Morris too sets up to be a playoff role player. His floor-spreading qualities provides the team what they covet: an all-around shooter that can play between Bam and Jimmy. Though Tucker is the favorite to start at the four, it can just as easily be Morris.

He was a key player in the Lakers’ 2020 playoff run, including a 19-point game in Game 3 of the 2020 Finals. His versatility gives the Heat some extra size, shooting and defense, something they lacked last year with Trevor Ariza in that role.

The 6’9 forward averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds per game on 40/31/72 splits last season. In games where Morris logged at least 23 minutes, he averaged 11.7 points per game. When given minutes, he’s likely to produce. Ariza averaged 28 minutes per game last season– time easily absorbed by Morris.

Regardless, the Heat will rely on Morris to be a stretch four that can defend and grab rebounds.

Markieff Morris has been a player that we’ve followed closely for a number of years. He can play multiple positions, shoot the three, defend and post-up. To be able to add him to our nucleus was a big move. I want to thank Markieff for coming to Miami.” – Pat Riley

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1381069116686143490?s=20

Re-Signings

Miami went out and nabbed two of the top free agents and a reliable role player, but that wasn’t all they did. They emphasized re-signing most of their guys and made some incredible value signings that look like absolute steals.

Duncan Robinson: 5-year, $90M deal

Re-signing Duncan Robinson was a move essential for Miami’s continued success. Nobody is more instrumental to a team with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo as its two main players than a sniper like Robinson. He has all the tools to go toe to toe with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson as the best shooters in the league.

Some may say Duncan is overpaid, but this is completely false. Players like Joe Harris ($17M), Davis Bertans ($16M) Ricky Rubio ($17M), Bojan Bogdanovic ($18M), Eric Gordon ($18M) and Eric Bledsoe ($18M) all lie in the same price range.

This is not to bring any of these players down, but comparatively, however, Duncan’s contract can seem like a bit of a bargain. Furthermore, role players are starting to cost a lot more. $18M per year is a great price for a specialist and one of the best at what he does.

Additionally, the league has evolved into the three-ball being king. Players of Duncan’s skill and shooting caliber don’t grow on trees. In fact, Dunc has the second-highest 3P% in NBA history for those that attempt at least 5 3-pointers per game: 42.3%, just one percent behind Steph. Fans should be ecstatic to have the host of the Long-Shot Podcast back in Miami for the foreseeable future.

“Duncan is the epitome of everybody who’s ever had a dream about being a great NBA player… I have never been around a player who worked as hard, fastidiously working on what he needed to do in order to improve his game. Not just his shooting, but his overall game. Having Duncan back was very critical for us.” – Pat Riley

The Heat are paying a specialist whose game has only continued to improve and become more well-rounded. Now, he won’t be relied on to lead the offense and be a primary scorer from dribble handoffs with Bam. There will be less pressure on him this year.

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1378532171359588354?s=20

Victor Oladipo: 1-year, $1.7M deal

Possibly the best low-risk, high-reward signing in all of free agency, Victor Oladipo is also returning to Miami. Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Dipo took this deal with the hope that he can regain some of his value by 2022’s free agency. With his contract, Miami still retains his Bird rights. If Dipo goes back into his old form, the Heat will have a chance to go over the cap to re-sign him again.

Vic is rehabbing his season-ending knee injury and is expected to return anywhere from January-March of 2022 and hit the playoffs at full strength. Yes, injuries have hindered his career over the past few years, but let’s not forget who he is. Dipo is a two-time All-Star and has an All-NBA Third Team and All-NBA All Defensive First-Team selections.

At his best, he’s one of the premier two-way players in the game.

In four games with the Heat last season, Vic averaged 12 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals on 37/23/67 splits per game. As we quickly learned, Dipo had been struggling with an injury before his trade to Miami, which explains the low splits. Regardless, he is expected to fully recover and be ready for a title run in Miami.

“We really like Victor’s versatility and how he impacts the game in multiple ways. His speed skill set fits perfectly into the core we have built.” – Pat Riley

Max Strus: 2-year, $3.5M deal

The Strus is loose! One half of the Heat’s G-League gem duo from last season, Max Strus showed the league that what he was capable of. This is yet another low-risk, high-reward ink at $1.75M/year.

This contract is a bit reminiscent of Duncan’s initial deal, and Strus has a great opportunity to play legit minutes this season. As of now, the DePaul product slots in as the backup SF behind Jimmy. When given extended playtime last season, Strus produced, dropping 13.5 points per game in games where he logged at least 19 minutes.

After signing his new deal, Strus posted 27 points (8/16 FG, 5/11 3PT) in his first appearance for the Heat in Summer League. If this is any indication of what he is to produce in the regular season, the 25-year-old will be getting real minutes at the NBA level.

Only time will tell if Miami got another steal, but he seems to be on that trajectory.

“As one of our young developing players, Max proved he can be very productive for us. He stepped up when needed last season and produced. His shooting and overall game is going to help our team immensely.” – Pat Riley

https://twitter.com/BleacherReport/status/1360061389591642116?s=20

Gabe Vincent: 2-year, $3.5M deal

Like Strus, the Nigerian national was thrown into the fire on numerous occasions last season due to COVID protocols within the organization. Though he has been streaky, he is capable of producing when needed. Last season, Nnamdi averaged 11.9 points per game in his seven starts, including performances of 24 and 21 points.

Vincent is also known for his perimeter defense, as mentioned by Riley. The 25-year-old will get a chance to earn rotational minutes until Oladipo returns from injury.

During his Olympic run, Vincent was a key reason Nigeria took down Team USA in a pre-tournament exhibition match. He led Nigeria with 21 points on 6/8 from deep. Every shot he made was a three-ball. His numbers underwhelmed when Olympic play sprung into action –6.0 points per game — but his skill sets remain at the ready.

“Gabe has proven to us that he is more than just a point guard. He’s a two-way guard that can run the offense, make threes and pretty much defend any guard in this league… It’s good to have him as part of our young core of players that we feel blend perfectly with our veterans.” – Pat Riley

Omer Yurtseven: 2-year, $3.5M deal

Miami’s low-key signing before the season ended, Omer Yurtseven looked good in his lone season in the G-League with the Oklahoma City Blue, averaging 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per contest. The Heat inked him to an extremely team-friendly deal that will allow him to prove himself just like the other recent undrafted steals that have signed with Miami.

In two Summer League games, Yurtseven averaged 26.0 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. His incredible performances tantalize what he is capable of and offer the thought of a reserve role in this upcoming season. Yurtseven’s skillset is exactly what you want next to Bam– a floor-spacing rim protector that would allow Bam to play at power forward.

“Ӧmer is one of Adam Simon’s (V.P., Basketball Operations/Assistant GM) great finds for our club. He will be a great developmental center/power forward to play alongside Bam, and has shown his willingness to commit to the work needed to get to the next level.” – Pat Riley

https://twitter.com/NBA/status/1422741798032744449?s=20

Dewayne Dedmon: 1-year, $1.7M deal

The seven-foot big man was an under-the-radar addition for the Heat last season. Many knew he would provide big minutes to a team lacking size and rebounding ability, but nobody could’ve expected the impact he would have in the first-round series against Milwaukee. Dedmon was, without question, Miami’s best player in the Game 2 loss, leading the Heat with 19 points (8/11 FG) and nine boards– a bright spot in a dark series for Miami.

Going into 2021-22, Dedmon should have a bigger role as the Heat’s backup five and will be called upon when the Heat play against teams with size. This was a great signing considering the lack of available — serviceable — seven-footers in free agency.

In 16 regular-season games for Miami in 2021, Dedmon averaged 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in just over 13 minutes per game.

“We love Dewayne and his aggressive attitude at the center position. He’s a great screener, rebounder and can stretch the floor. He came in after missing most of the season and had a tremendous impact for us… His veteran presence and physicality are going to help anchor our defense and with a whole year under his belt, he will be even better.” – Pat Riley

https://twitter.com/MiamiHEAT/status/1387604432158920708?s=20

Free-Agent Departures

Goran Dragic: Traded to TOR (Lowry S&T)

Precious Achiuwa: Traded to TOR (Lowry S&T)

Kendrick Nunn: Signed with LAL on 2-year, $10M deal

Trevor Ariza: Signed with LAL on 1-year, $1.7M deal

Nemanja Bjelica: Signed with GSW on 1-year, $1.7M deal

Andre Iguodala: Signed with GSW on 1-year, $1.7M deal

Making The Best of a Failed Gamble

In the past, Miami had made different plans for what 2021’s free agency was going to be. They wanted to get a top 10-15 player in the league. In an effort to keep that dream alive, they kept their cap clear in 2020 and made no long-term agreements with anyone.

They made this decision because they assumed that Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Bradley Beal and others would be available. Unfortunately, most of these players signed extensions in 2020 to bypass free agency in 2021.

In summation, the Heat’s gamble failed.

Right when it was looking down, the Heat ended up making the best of it. It’s easy to be critical of Pat Riley‘s moves, but free agency was a success this summer. Despite distributing tons of money, Riley has compiled a team that can compete for an Eastern Conference title. If the Heat win a championship, nobody will care about the salaries.

Putting the best team on the floor is what matters, and that is what they did.

Miami now has a core of four players that will be around for at least the next three seasons. Jimmy ($46M), Bam ($33M), Lowry ($30M) and Robinson ($18M) will be costing the Heat $127M per year on average.

Rotation Prediction

The Heat still have one roster spot remaining, and there’s two ways they can handle it.

If they trust Herro and Dipo as reserve guards, a 3&D wing like Wesley Matthews could fit nicely. If they don’t, potential veteran point-guard options include Jeff Teague and Avery Bradley.

After their spending spree, Miami goes into the 2021/2022 season with — when at full strength — a rotation of:

A sweep may have swept them under the NBA landscape rug, but the Heat are due to return to the league’s upper echelon very soon.

Follow us on Twitter @HeatLead for the latest Heat news and insight. 

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