Q: Hey Ira, with the Heat among the final teams standing in two of the last three years, should we question the financial decisions of management to not spend into higher tax territory when the team was so close? It begs the question of whether management thought the team was as good as it actually was. Historically, Pat Riley has indicated a willingness to spend if the team is “close” to a championship. Maybe 2022-23 is that year? – David, Venice.
A: And if such a decision becomes necessary, the Heat will undertake such considerations. The irony is that some view the Heat as having already overspent on the contracts of Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler, and are concerned about potentially the same with Tyler Herro (whose extension would not impact the 2022-23 cap/tax, because it would begin in 2023-24). But when it comes to the luxury tax, there actually are limited pathways to such spending, beyond a blockbuster trade. You generally go into the tax either by re-signing your Bird Rights free agents or utilizing cap exceptions. This offseason, the Heat can move into the tax with a large contract to Victor Oladipo or possibly maxing out Caleb Martin in restricted free agency with the full mid-level exception. So the question is whether either of those moves would dramatically move the bar. Among the advantages of the Heat’s recent approach are the minimal contracts of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Omer Yurtseven that help balance out the ledger on the low end. As a team likely to operate above the salary cap, the Heat’s lone means to add an outside player at an eight-figure salary would be the mid-level exception. But usage of that full exception also would hard cap the team for 2022-23, perhaps limiting options at February’s trading deadline.
Q: Ira, for those who keep saying that Jimmy Butler should develop his 3-point shot more extensively, I say if you really figured out how many three-point plays he creates by drawing fouls I would bet that he averages more three-point plays than 3-pointers by most shooters. And at the same time, also creating foul trouble for the other team. – Brent, Wellington.
A: Good point. Attackers can create as much, or more, havoc with their relentlessness as those with an over-the-top approach. But as some have pointed out, with an increased threat of 3-point accuracy, it also could create additional driving lanes to attack.
Q: What to do with Dewayne Dedmon? Kevon Looney has been a revelation to the Warriors in the Finals, while the Heat had problems resting Bam Adebayo during the Celtics series. Can Omer Yurtseven step up or will the draft provide intriguing prospects? Either way the Heat have several issues to address within the next few weeks. Finding a dependable big may not be click bait, but probably makes the top-ten to do list. – Leonard, Cornelius, N.C.
A: But Pat Riley also was quick to praise Dewayne Dedmon after the season, so I wouldn’t necessarily write off an ending to his Heat tenure. I’m also not exactly sure that Omer Yurtseven fills the description of an energetic big along the lines of what we’ve seen in these NBA Finals from Kevon Looney and Robert Williams. So perhaps the way the Heat go in the draft is for a four-five type.