The Miami Heat, coming off a 2022-23 season in which they made it all the way to the NBA Finals, could not overcome the major injury woes that they experienced into the playoffs. Not only was major trade deadline acquisition Terry Rozier III unable to suit up, the Heat's best player, Jimmy Butler, also missed the entirety of the Heat's six-game series defeat in the first round at the hands of the Boston Celtics due to an MCL sprain, an unfortunate injury he sustained in the 7/8 play-in tournament game.

While Butler's injury is through no fault of his own, the Heat star did not end the season on the best of notes with regards to his relationship with team president Pat Riley. Butler's trolling on social media didn't sit well with Riley, who urged the Heat forward to keep his mouth shut since he wasn't on the court.

The timing of this remark from Riley definitely raised some eyebrows. At the conclusion of the 2024-25 season, Jimmy Butler could enter free agency in search of one last big payday. He has a player option worth $52 million for the 2025-26 season, but he'll be 36 years old by the time that campaign begins. If he plays at an All-Star-level for next year, he could definitely earn another huge deal before his retirement.

However, even though Butler is reportedly angling for a contract extension, the Heat appear to be hesitant to put such an offer on the table — and for justifiable reason. It's not quite clear just for how long Butler can play at a high level. Nonetheless, there might be a few teams that would be willing to splash the cash on Butler since he's an established name who performs well in the playoffs.

If Butler and the Heat fail to see eye-to-eye, there could be a chance, no matter how unlikely, that the 34-year old star could be on his way out of South Beach this offseason. Should that happen, these are some of the best trades the Heat must consider.

Jimmy Butler gets sent to the Big Easy

Heat receive: Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., 2025 LAL first-round pick

Pelicans receive: Jimmy Butler

There may be wholesale changes coming for the New Orleans Pelicans after another disappointing season in which they finished as the eight-seed in the Western Conference after looking like they were in the driver's seat to take the four-seed in March. The Pelicans' season went downhill fast after Zion Williamson suffered an injury in the play-in game against the Los Angeles Lakers, and they simply were not able to recover en route to a first-round exit against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Now, Brandon Ingram is in the final year of his deal, and he appears to be on his way out of New Orleans, especially with sharpshooter Trey Murphy up for a huge rookie scale extension this offseason. Ingram's name has been heavily mentioned in trade rumors, and in this scenario, the Heat could take a chance on him and bring out an even greater level out of the former All-Star as the de facto Jimmy Butler replacement.

Ingram is nine years younger than Jimmy Butler, and he's been averaging 23-6-5 since arriving on the Pelicans team via the Anthony Davis trade. He'll only be 27 years of age at the start of next season, so he should still have plenty of productive years, making this very much worthwhile for the Heat, especially since they'll be receiving a potential lottery pick for 2025 in the Los Angeles Lakers' first-round selection.

For the Pelicans, giving up on Brandon Ingram could be a huge mistake. But if they don't want to pay him, they might as well get a potentially huge upgrade on him in Jimmy Butler to boost their hopes of mounting a deep playoff run for 2025. Butler is a locker-room leader who will rally this Pelicans team and show up for them when it matters the most, health permitting.

Rockets land Jimmy Buckets from the Heat to help their rebuild take off

Heat receive: Dillon Brooks, Jock Landale, Cam Whitmore, Tari Eason, 2024 BKN first-round pick (#3)

Rockets receive: Jimmy Butler

This return for Jimmy Butler may seem light at first glance. Butler is the heart of a team that is a threat to make it out of the Eastern Conference year-in, year-out, and to trade him for players who don't even come close to approximating his impact will certainly hurt their chances of competing for the Larry O'Brien trophy in 2025.

But in terms of a return with an eye towards the future, it will be difficult for the Heat to find a trade partner that is aiming to make a win-now trade while having the young talent and draft capital to pique their interest. The Rockets certainly fit that bill.

This is a team that reportedly put Jalen Green, as well as a few first-round picks, on the table in exchange for Mikal Bridges. While Bridges is a talented player who'll be making $25 million less than Butler will for next season, he doesn't quite push the Rockets team forward as much as Butler would in terms of vying for a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.

Butler is one of the strongest ceiling-raisers in today's NBA, as he seems to find a way to leave an imprint of his identity on the teams he plays for. For a Rockets team that's trying to build a winning culture under head coach Ime Udoka, Butler is as perfect of a fit of a superstar as there is as a do-it-all wing who would complement the likes of Fred VanVleet, Jalen Green, and Alperen Sengun quite well. The huge is risk, of course, is that Butler is getting old, but that is a risk the Rockets simply may have to take.

For the Heat, they'll be getting an athletic young players in Cam Whitmore; despite falling in the 2023 NBA Draft, Whitmore showed that he could become an All-Star-level scorer under the right tutelage. The Heat should have the infrastructure to bring out the best in him. Meanwhile, Tari Eason simply feels like he's destined to play for the Heat.

For good measure, the Heat will also be receiving Dillon Brooks, one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, as well as the third overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft. This year's draft class may not be the best, but they could still draft someone who could be a long-term pro in Donovan Clingan, Matas Buzelis, Reed Sheppard, or Stephon Castle to further set themselves up for a better future.