It’s no secret: Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are targeting the 2021 offseason to add one more superstar to the roster, via free agency or trade. The Heat have the flexibility to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo — if he decides to leave Milwaukee — or any of the other stars who could be available.
This offseason, don’t expect big changes in Miami.
“I think we’ll stay the course with our picks, stay the course with our young players,” Pat Riley said Friday in a Zoom session with the media. “We have decisions to make, obviously, with player contracts and free agents, and really do a deep dive into this season, myself and [coach Erik Spoelstra] and Andy [Elisburg] about how good we really are right now…flexibility with draft picks, free agency is coming next…and my thinking really hasn’t changed.
“But when I say next thing, if there’s a next thing that presents itself that can really take us to maybe another level talent-wise, then I’m open to it.”
That next thing — someone to pair with team leader Jimmy Butler — either comes at the next trade deadline (whenever that is) or the following offseason. Until then, the focus will be on keeping cap space but also “taking care of our own,” something Riley said a few times.
The big financial decision for Miami this offseason will be Goran Dragic, who is a free agent. The Heat are expected to offer him a big one-year contract ($20 million?), a move that would keep together the core of the roster that reached the NBA Finals, without messing with their 2021 cap space.
Bam Adebayo is up for a contract extension, and the All-Star is at the heart of the Heat’s future goals. He deserves a max extension (25% of the salary cap, starting in 2021). However, Riley may want to convince him to wait a year for that offer to preserve that 2021 cap space (if he signs that extension this summer it is on the books for 2021, but that same extension could be signed after any moves in 2021 and the Heat would maintain flexibility).
“I really don’t want to get into any kind of discussions at this point about [an Adebayo extension,” Riley said. “I think all the hypotheticals out there about what people think is going to happen, that’s what they are. You all know our numbers. You know what the situation is, the free agents in ‘20 and ‘21. So when it comes to our players, we want to take care of them, and especially the ones that we really value.
“We value Bam Adebayo. He’s an All-Star. And he’s young. And he’s great. And we’re going to do what’s in his best interest. That is what I think we have to do.”
The Heat’s other free agents are Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr., Meyers Leonard, Udonis Haslem, and Solomon Hill. Miami was Bird rights and can keep those players, the Heat just want to do it without cutting into the 2021 plan. Miami could go with one-year deals for these players as well.
Riley talked about flexibility, that the Heat want to be able to move whatever direction the free agency and trade winds blow. It’s a difficult balancing act to bring back a team that made the NBA Finals while maintaining that flexibility, but if any team can walk that line it’s Riley and the Heat.