Like most teams, the Miami Heat were searching for ways to bolster their roster in the 2020 NBA offseason. Normally, organizations have months to prepare for this rumor-filled time frame. However, circumstances and proceedings were different this year due to coronavirus protocols and a condensed playoff campaign. The Heat did the best they could, all things considered.
In this piece, we’ll hand out a grade for the Heat’s 2020 offseason.
Miami finished the 2019-20 campaign with a respectable 44-29 overall record, earning a No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. After a fiery run through the first few rounds, the Heat ran into LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals. Injuries crept into Miami’s lineup, and they eventually fell in the series, 4-2.
The Heat had a strong run in the playoffs, and they’ll be looking for a repeat performance in the coming season. Their offseason moves should lead them in that direction.
The Heat’s biggest move of this offseason came when All-Star center Bam Adebayo signed a five-year, $163-million max contract extension. The 23-year-old is coming off a great season in Miami, averaging 15.9 points, 10.2 boards, and 5.1 assists. Without a doubt, the team is thrilled to have their steady rim protector back.
However, signing Bam to a max extension means the Heat will have less cap space to go after a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo next offseason. If Giannis doesn’t sign an extension with Milwaukee this offseason, he’ll be set to hit the market in 2021. It seems that offering Adebayo financial security now took precedent over a future chase of The Greek Freak. Still, the Heat are known for making big moves, so they might still find a way.
Before we dive in on the rest of their player signings and acquisitions, it’s worth noting that Miami brought in Caron Butler to serve as an assistant coach. Avid hoops fans know this name well, as the former No. 10 overall pick played for several teams in the NBA over a 14-year span. Along the way, he became a two-time All-Star and an NBA champion. Now, he’ll look to lend his veteran knowledge to some of the younger players on the Heat’s roster as a coach.
Butler is coming home by joining the Heat, as they are the team that selected him in the first round of the 2002 NBA Draft.
In a move that made Heat-lifers around the globe smile, Udonis Haslem agreed to return to the team for his 18th season. According to NBA.com, only five NBA players have spent a career of that length with one franchise. Dirk Nowitzki spent 21 years with Dallas, Kobe Bryant 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Tim Duncan spent 19 with San Antonio, John Stockton spent 19 with Utah and Reggie Miller spent 18 with Indiana.
Haslem, now 40 years of age, doesn’t see much playing time, but that’s not why he’s there. For reference, the three-time champion appeared in just four games last season. His role with the team is more about veteran leadership and locker room presence. Players that have suited up with UD in the past say he is a truly motivational teammate.
“He’s just an incredible rock of stability and leadership and mentorship,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said during the NBA Finals last month, via NBA.com. “That’s at all levels. It’s not just to our young players. It’s to our veteran players. And he provides just great guidance and mentorship to this head coach as well. I love him.”
As we move on through this grade sheet, we come to Kelly Olynyk, who agreed to opt into the final season of his contract with the Heat ($13.6 million). The Canadian-born big man signed a four-year, $50 million deal with Miami in 2017.
Olynyk isn’t a great defender, but he is a solid scorer from the perimeter. If Bam Adebayo needs a break, Olynyk can come in and provide a much different look to opposing sides.
At this point, it’s not clear how much playing time Olynyk will get in the coming season. He came up big for the Heat in the playoffs after Adebayo went down with an injury, but he was also benched in the latter stages of Miami’s series against the Boston Celtics. Furthermore, the team selected Precious Achiuwa in this year’s draft — another big. More on him later, though.
Goran Dragic has been running the offense in Miami for quite a while, and it looks like that’s a trend that is set to continue. The Dragon re-signed with the Heat earlier this month, agreeing to a two-year, $37.4 million deal.
Prior to suffering an untimely injury in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Dragic was Miami’s leading scorer in the playoffs. He’s been with the Heat since 2015, and most fans of the team are happy to have him back.
The Heat also re-signed big man Meyers Leonard earlier this week. According to reports, his contract will pay him roughly $9 million this season.
“It’s good to have him back,” Heat President Pat Riley said of Leonard, via NBA.com. “He is a prototypical center, a very good one.”
Like a lot of teams around the NBA landscape, the Heat lost some pieces this offseason. Most notably, Jae Crowder, who agreed to the terms of a three-year deal with the Phoenix Suns.
The loss of Crowder is tough, as his hard-working style of play and gritty defense made him a favorite in South Beach. However, the Heat managed to come to an agreement with Maurice Harkless on a one-year deal. This move should help to fill some of the void that was created with Crowder’s departure.
In one of their bigger moves of this offseason, the Heat signed veteran guard Avery Bradley to a two-year, $11.6 million deal, with a team option in his second year.
On its surface, this seems to be a fine acquisition for the Heat, as Bradley is an NBA champion and a two-time All-Defensive Team selection. Furthermore, he’s a consistent shooter from range. With the Lakers last season, the former Texas Longhorns standout shot 36.4 percent from beyond the arc.
“This is a great signing that can help us right away,” team president Pat Riley said in a statement, via hoopsrumors.com. “Being able to add a two-time All-NBA Defensive Team selection who is also a great shooter and fits perfectly with our current philosophy as a multi-positional player. Avery will be a great addition to fortifying our backcourt.”
With the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Heat selected Precious Achiuwa, a 6-foot-9 forward out of the University of Memphis who was the 2019-20 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year.
Most draft analysts were surprised to see Achiuwa fall to 20th overall, so the Heat may have come away with a bit of a steal here.
Achiuwa appeared in 31 games (all starts) during his lone season at Memphis, averaging 15.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and 1.1 steals in 30.5 minutes per night. Notably, he was the nation’s only Division I freshman to average a double-double.
“If you watch him play, he could almost help anybody if you want to get out and pressure and run and open up the floor, that kind of stuff,” Heat president Pat Riley said, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
All things considered, we’re giving Miami a grade of B+ for this offseason — good, but not great. The Heat were close to realizing the ultimate goal last season. Let’s see if these moves are enough to lead the team down the same path and back to the NBA Finals.