The Miami Heat enter an offseason, one I believe is the most important offseason they’ve had in some time. Just a couple of years ago, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James all were free agents, but I feel this offseason has more riding on what this Heat team will look like in the upcoming 2016-17 season. The Heat, I believe, will no longer lurk in the middle of the pack after this summer. The Heat will either be one of the two more dominant teams in the Eastern Conference, or they’ll give the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets company at the bottom of the food chain. It all depends on this offseason, and if you’re like me, I want to see the big market Miami team to thrive, and here’s how they’re going to do that.
Task 1: Re-sign Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade is aging and just turned 34 years old this past January, but it is essential that Wade returns to the Miami Heat. His days of averaging 25-26 points are essentially over, and his minutes on the floor have continued to slowly decrease since the 2012-13 season, the year he won his third championship. With all of this, Dwyane Wade is the heart and soul of the Miami Heat franchise. Does he need to be paid 25 million? Absolutely not! If Miami can re-sign Dwyane Wade for about 10-12 million a year early on in the free agency period, that will set the tone for the rest of the offseason. This will provide veteran leadership in the locker room, and this will be a great leverage point in re-signing other free agents this offseason.
Task 2: Make a move on Kevin Durant
The likelihood of Kevin Durant signing in Miami, especially after the success Oklahoma City has experienced this postseason, is looking dimmer and dimmer by the day. However, I’d be heavily disappointed if Pat Riley doesn’t try to get into the sweepstakes. If you sign Durant and lure him into the East, it instantly becomes Cleveland and Miami at the top of the Eastern Conference, James versus Durant. Re-signing Dwyane Wade first and for just a small amount may be able to grab Kevin Durant to a team he feels will stand a chance of reaching the NBA Finals, especially siding with a man like Wade, who has some expertise when it comes to pursuing gold.
Task 3: Fix Dragic’s Contract
Goran Dragic was signed to a 5-year, $85 million contract last summer, and at the time, it was a smart business move by Pat Riley and it had to be done. The Heat needed to see what the team would look like with Dragic and Bosh in the lineup together, and it looked fine. However, I’m sure Miami did not expect to have other priorities this offseason. With this being a do-or-die offseason for Miami, considering they’re without a draft selection, they need salary cap to make some moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if an aging and slower Dragic is asked to restructure his contract or that Miami would begin shopping the 30-year-old point guard.
Task 4: Re-sign Hassan Whiteside
Hassan Whiteside has had to scratch and claw for his opportunity in the NBA, and he has boomed with the Miami Heat in the last year and he is looking to compensate for his early years by getting himself a massive contract, perhaps one in the 15-20 million dollar range, maybe Whiteside even demands the maximum amount. For the four years LeBron was in Miami, the team lacked two things. They lacked a significant point guard who can distribute the ball, which was okay with veterans Wade and James being able to handle the ball. The Heat also couldn’t find a center to set the tone, crash the boards, and protect the innocent baby known as the rim, but Miami found that in Hassan Whiteside since LeBron’s departure. Whiteside was a huge asset to this team placing as the 3rd seed in the East, but his demands should be cut off at a certain limit, perhaps 16-18 million a year. Whiteside’s return to Miami will depend on the first two. I’m sure Wade’s return will help Whiteside lean towards coming back, but if he wants the big contract, he won’t be taking money off Durant’s table. I believe the Heat would pursue Durant first and if they lose out on Whiteside, oh well, but he would be a massive loss to this Heat squad.
Task 5: Sign a 3-point Shooter
Coming into this past season, one fear of mine was our lack of 3-point shooting. Unfortunately for Miami, my fears were rational, and the Heat were one of the bottom five teams in 3-point shooting. The Heat averaged around six 3-pointers made per game this year, and this was a contributing factor in their opening series against the Hornets, the reason it got dragged out to seven games and likely cost the Heat a chance at the Eastern Conference Finals. The game has developed into a 3-point focused 48 minutes and no Heat player could average two 3-pointers a game, and the team leader was Luol Deng, who isn’t under contract for next year, nor will he likely be apart of the Heat roster moving forward. Josh Richardson built on something towards the end of the season, but we can’t rely on one 3-point shooter who could hit a sophomore slump. Miami’s choices in free agency are slim, but a few notable names the Heat could talk to are Chandler Parsons, Kent Bazemore, and Kevin Martin. It’ll be interesting to see if the Heat address their 3-point deficiencies from last season in free agency.
If Pat Riley and the Miami Heat is able to swing three or four of these in free agency, a task they’ve used to build their team for years, then they’ll be on their way to a joyful season next year. If not, and we can’t put Wade, Durant, or Whiteside in a Miami uniform, then get ready for the dark ages of the Miami Heat. Fortunately, we have Pat Riley in our front office, who has the reputation of being relentless in free agency and being a basketball genius.
One thing’s for sure. This will be a VERY interesting summer!