- Miami Heat President Pat Riley says that the Heat plan to bring back the same team next season.
- Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Myers Leonard, Solomon Hill, and Derrick Jones Jr. are free agents this offseason.
- All-Star big man Bam Adebayo is also eligible for an extension during the upcoming season.
The Godfather says that he has a good idea of what he wants his team to look like next season. With the league’s future plans still undetermined, Miami Heat President Pat Riley says that his priority is to “take care of the players” that they have.
No team can make a firm plan yet. The league has yet to decide when next season starts. The financial details of the 2020-21 season like the salary cap and luxury tax lines are still expected to change. But despite those, Riley says that the Heat are clear on some matters like keeping free agent to be Goran Dragic and the extension eligible Bam Adebayo as well as key rotation players who will join the market during free agency.
Said Riley during his annual end-of-season media availability interview:
Pat Riley’s offseason thoughts on Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic: https://t.co/aMiM5vUxSJ
— Shandel Richardson (@ShandelRich) October 23, 2020
Starting point guard Goran Dragic is on top of Miami’s free agent list. The 34-year old Slovenian had an excellent season coming off the Heat bench. Dragic averaged 16.2 points and 5.1 assists per game while shooting 44.1% from the floor and 36.7% from behind the three-point region during the regular season. Dragic was even better in the playoffs as he reclaimed his starting job and averaged 21.1 points per game, behind only Jimmy Butler’s 21.8 PPG scoring.
For sure, Dragic will have suitors in free agency, especially after how good he was during the postseason. However, he’s a guy who has played six seasons with the Heat and his game has fit so well with Coach Erik Spoelstra’s system that he can shine whether he starts or not. But while Riley looks certain to “take care” of Dragic, the team has other key veteran players who could poached from the team.
Three-and-D forward Jae Crowder leads that group of Heat players. Crowder has been an x-factor for the Heat with his defense and three-point sniping. Likewise, Myers Leonard, Solomon Hill, and Derrick Jones Jr. are also free agents while Kelly Olynyk has a player option worth $12M which he is expected to pick up.
? MIAMI IS IN THE FINALS ?
The Heat advance to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014! pic.twitter.com/DVPRlMypaO
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) September 28, 2020
The Heat were the biggest surprise of the 2019-20 NBA season. Miami went from missing the 2019 playoffs to going all the way to the NBA Finals where they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
They finished the regular season with 44-29 record, 5th in the Eastern Conference. Miami took out the East’s top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round and then outlasted the 3rd seeded Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. They became the 4th lowest seeded team to make the NBA Finals and the first 5th seed to do so.
But just as when the Heat were looking for one more surprise, they lost starters Adebayo and Dragic to injuries. Although both would eventually return later in the series, the Lakers had taken a commanding lead and never looked back. Jimmy Butler carried the load for Miami and he had two super human games in the Finals but in the end, the absence of Adebayo and Dragic spelled the difference for the Heat.
Force To Be Reckoned With
Despite losing the Finals, Miami established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the future. Jimmy Butler has become a full-fledged superstar who can be a go-to-guy in the playoffs. Miami’s pair of young shooters in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson will be a big part of Miami’s future. If they successfully re-sign at least Adebayo, Dragic, and Crowder, this team will be a force to be reckoned with again next season.
Interestingly, the sportsbooks don’t think too highly on the Heat. According to SportsBetting.ag, Miami has the fourth-best odds to win the Eastern Conference at +450. The oddsmakers have placed the Milwaukee Bucks (+375), Boston Celtics (+425), and even the Brooklyn Nets (+425) higher than the Heat in their latest oddsboard.
As far as winning the 2021 NBA title is concerned, Miami is one of the three Eastern Conference teams who are in the Top 6 in the oddsboard. Miami though, is at the bottom of that 6-team list at +1400. But given how they defied the odds during the 2019-20 season, it won’t be a surprise to see the Heat return to the Finals. They just have to make sure to get their key pieces back next season.