Despite narrowly missing the Playoffs for the 2016-2017 season, the Miami Heat looked like one of the strongest contenders in the East. The Heat could come back with a strong resurgence in the next season, barring the right offseason moves. Pat Riley is known for his negotiating prowess and the veteran coach-turned-president will want to give his organization all the pieces they need to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money.
The first step for any team in the offseason is deciding which players to retain. The current Heat roster put up an endearing season performance, especially given the fact that the team lost franchise player Dwayne Wade, so Coach Erik Spoelstra will be keen to have the same group of guys going into next season. Hassan Whiteside showcased another dominant season-performance, ending the season as the league’s best rebounder (he led the league in blocked shots in the previous season). Whiteside’s offensive presence was felt as well with an average of 17 PPG. Starting PG Goran Dragic led the team in points with 20 PPG. Dion Waiters enjoyed a breakout season with the Heat, most notably defeating the Golden State Warriors with a buzzer-beater three. The organization will want to retain Waiters, and he seems to feel the same way.
Now, the Heat already have some players under contract, including Whiteside ($23.8 million), Dragic ($17 million), Tyler Johnson ($5.8 million), Josh McRoberts ($6 million) and Justice Winslow ($1.9 million). Chris Bosh and the Heat finally reached an agreement for them to part ways. Bosh, once an integral part of the team, hasn’t played due to blood clots in his lungs. Bosh took up a large chunk of the team’s cap space, so his leaving frees up some cap space that they can use to sign another star player. Willie Reed, who played backup to Whiteside at center, is another player whose status is a bit of a question mark. Reed could exercise a player option that would see him come back, but it is unclear if he will.
The one thing the Heat need is another star player. With Bosh’s cap space cleared up, they could move for such stars like Utah’s Gordon Hayward or Indiana’s Paul George. A player of Hayward or George’s caliber, paired with the team’s already strong depth, could elevate the Heat to where they need to be to become serious contenders. The Heat’s decisions regarding player retention will certainly affect the odds and betting lines coming into the new season, driving bettors to pay close attention to how this plays out and how the legitimate sports betting destinations respond to it.
Players have most of the summer to decide whether they want to opt in or out of their contracts (if they have the option to do so), so free agency takes time. Once the Heat tie up their free agents, they will be available to target a big name. They will likely have enough cap space to offer a max deal ($30-35 million) for one player, but not much after that. Suffice it to say, the team managed to hit .500 for the season as is, so it looks like they only need one more piece. Their disappointment on missing the Playoff due to a tiebreaker will be enough to see them come back with a vengeance.