The Miami Heat’s 2018-19 season will pretty much only be remembered by three simple words: One Last Dance. That’s what the final campaign of Dwyane Wade’s illustrious career came to be known by, and boy, did the legendary 2-guard deliver. Apart from that, it was a pretty disappointing year for the Heat, with the team finishing the season at 39-43 and out of the playoff picture. The big-money deals Miami dolled out to James Johnson and Dion Waiters two summers ago continued to age poorly, with the former falling in and out of the rotation and the latter recovering very slowly from ankle surgery. Aside from Wade’s memorable final season, the only other positives that came out of the year for the Heat was the development of Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow, both of whom looked like your prototypical, high-effort, defensively versatile Miami players. Josh Richardson and Derrick Jones, Miami’s other two young-ish pieces, also had their moments this season, though Richardson did battle inconsistently throughout the later part of the season.
This summer should be a quiet one in Miami, as the team will have no cap space and pretty much will only be waiting on decisions from Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic about whether or not the duo will exercise their player options for 2019-20. Besides that, all the Heat can hope for is that their young core stay healthy this offseason and continue to work hard at improving.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
James Johnson: $15,107,400
Dion Waiters: $13,310,000
Kelly Olynyk: $13,067,885
Justise Winslow: $13,000,000
Josh Richardson: $10,116,576
Bam Adebayo: $3,454,080
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Ryan Anderson: $21,264,637
- Guaranteed for $15,600,000
Derrick Jones: $1,645,357
Yante Maten: $1,416,852
Duncan Robinson: $1,416,852
Kendrick Nunn: $1,416,852
Hassan Whiteside: $27,093,018
Goran Dragic: $19,217,900
They have the second-highest payroll as far as money committed to 2019-20, and considering they missed the playoffs this past season and bring back almost the entirety of that roster (apart from Wade, who was a plus during his time on the floor this year), their top priority their summer needs to be finding some sort of cap relief.
Whether that means finding a taker for the final year of Whiteside’s deal (it’s more plausible now that he’ll be an expiring contract), waiving the final year of Anderson’s contract or something else, Miami’s front office needs to find a way to alleviate some of this financial burden. Apart from that, they don’t have the cap space to be players in free agency unless they’re willing to use their mid-level exception.
There is a rumor floating around, courtesy of The Athletic’s Shams Charania, about Miami being interested in trading for JR Smith so that they’re able to get some future cap relief. Smith’s bad contract is about to enter its final season, but, more importantly than that, it’s only guaranteed for $3.8 million if the enigmatic 2-guard is waived by June 30. If moved for Johnson or Waiters’ deals, that would open up over $15 million in cap space for Miami next summer, which would let the Heat finally be active in free agency, an area the team used to specialize in.
There is some speculation that trading Johnson or Waiters for Smith might cost Miami their 13th overall pick in the upcoming draft. Many wonder whether that’s worth it for the Heat, who should be continuing to build from within rather than getting rid of plus assets just to get out of from under the bad money they created.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Isaiah Thomas: Low-risk, high-reward type of target for Miami. If they can somehow get the Celtics version of Thomas, they would be getting an extremely efficient high-volume scorer for cheap.
Mario Hezonja: Another low-cost, high-upside target for the Heat. Hezonja hasn’t quite figured things out in the NBA, but he still has a good amount of potential thanks to his size, ball-handling and athleticism on the wing. Considering the Heat won’t be in the running for elite free agents, Hezonja is the type of guy they should be going after this summer.
Rodney Hood: Had a solid bounce-back after joining the Portland Trail Blazers. Would help the Heat’s lacking perimeter scoring.
Austin Rivers: A defensive-minded guard who would fit in well as part of Miami’s culture.
Reggie Bullock: Miami missed Wayne Ellington’s shooting after trading him away this season. Bullock would be a like-for-like replacement.
James Ennis: A return to the team that drafted him could make sense for both sides, as Miami would be happy to add his defensive-minded outside game to the lineup.
Wesley Matthews: 3-and-D guard, which the Heat could use.
Justin Holiday: Another 3-and-D option, but a potentially cheaper one.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Kevin Love: The Heat lack a star, and could look to the Cleveland Cavaliers to provide them with one. (Again.) Cleveland’s payroll is way too expensive for a team with that weak of a roster, so they might not be opposed to unloading Love.
Bradley Beal: Miami tends to shoot for the stars when it comes to trades, making a guy like Beal an obvious target. It’ll depend on whether or not the Washington Wizards’ next general manager is open to initiating a full rebuild, something that could make sense considering their payroll and the fact that John Wall will likely miss all of next season.
Mike Conley: He would present a huge upgrade over Dragic, as well as fit in nicely within the Heat’s culture. Since the Memphis Grizzlies appear close to initiating a rebuild, Conley could maybe be had for cheaper than your typical near-All-Star-level ball-handler.
JR Smith: Trading for him would open up immediate and future cap relief for Miami.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
The Heat own their first-round pick this season, which is the No. 13 overall selection.
They do not have a second-round pick.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.