After a rather uneventful offseason, the Miami Heat have capped their preseason roster at 20 players with the return of Udonis Haslem.
This past season, the Miami Heat finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 53-29 and were one game shy of their seventh NBA Finals appearance. Going into the offseason it was expected that the Heat would try to retain their core pieces and make minor improvements to the roster. Maybe even create cap space to chase after big-name players like Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine.
Those expectations flew out the window when NBA All-Stars such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell became available for trade. As of this writing, Durant, Irving, and Mitchell are still on their respective teams and the Heat seem content with the roster they have created.
With no more notable moves expected from Miami and the season quickly approaching, let’s review the Heat’s offseason.
Heat 2022 NBA offseason grades
A trade never materialized for the Heat, even though the team was linked to numerous trade rumors. Durant’s trade request and subsequent naming of Miami as one of his preferred destinations subjected the Heat to tons of rumors.
Established players such as Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson were rumored to be on the trade block.
While the Heat went the entire offseason without making a trade, it does not mean the Heat will stand pat for long. The guard-heavy roster is awkwardly constructed and trade could come sooner rather than later. Especially, if Jimmy Butler has to play serious minutes at power forward.
The Heat drafted Serbian forward Nikola Jovic 27th overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. The 19-year-old stands at 6-feet-10-inches and 223 lbs.
Jovic is a “point forward” who can score on the inside and on the outside. He has also flashed his playmaking chops on several occasions. His ability to play on the perimeter and spread the floor makes him the perfect complement to Adebayo, who relies on generating his production in the paint.
Being the only draftee on the Heat’s Summer League roster, it was expected that Jovic would have the green light. Unfortunately, his performance left much to be desired.
In four games, Jovic averaged 8.5 points, five rebounds, and 0.5 assists in 19.9 minutes per game. He also shot 41.9% from the field, including 42.9% from three. His best performance was a 25-point outing against the Golden State Warriors.
Miami has one of the best player development staff in the league. They are known for taking undrafted rookies and G-League players and turning them into competent NBA role players. Despite a rough summer league, a player with Jovic’s upside is sure to benefit from that tutelage.
The NBA stripped Miami of their lone second-round pick due to tampering violations during the 2021 free agency period.
Free Agency: C
The Heat started the 2022 NBA Free Agency period by losing starting power forward P.J. Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat reportedly offered Tucker a three-year, $26.5 million deal. The 76ers offered him more money and the opportunity to reunite with James Harden and Daryl Morey.
While Tucker only averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, his departure is a massive blow to the Heat.
Tucker fiercely guarded all five positions and routinely took on the opposing team’s best perimeter player. He perfectly embodied the Heat’s culture.
Pat Riley and company did not bother to bring in outside help to replace Tucker’s production and are instead relying on in-house options.
The most notable moves were resigning forward Caleb Martin and guard Victor Oladipo. Last season, Martin had a breakout season averaging 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in 22.9 minutes per game. Barring any last-minute moves, he will likely replace Tucker in the starting lineup.
After signing with the Heat in 2021, Oladipo has experienced a career resurgence in Miami. Last season, Oladipo averaged 12.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in 21.6 minutes per game. He will now compete with Herro, Robinson, and Max Strus for a spot in the starting lineup.
The Heat also resigned center Dewayne Dedmon to remain that high-energy big man off the bench.
The most influential move of the offseason has to be the return of Haslem. Haslem will be entering his 20th and final season, all with Miami. He has played sparingly over the last seven seasons but remains a key piece in the Heat’s locker room.
Miami’s offseason this year could be summed up in one word: Meh. The Heat retained most of the roster that helped them reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years but failed to make any noticeable improvements.
Losing Tucker to an Eastern Conference rival could come back to bite them. On the other hand, not gutting their roster for a shot at Durant or Mitchell could be a blessing in disguise.
Jovic could be the key to a bright future for the Heat but the trio of Butler, Adebayo, and Herro need more help. The way the roster is presently constructed is conducive to a trade. Do not be surprised to see someone like Robinson or Herro be moved for an established star.