3 Changes the Miami Heat Need To Make Before the 2021 Season

Published 10/13/2020, 9:32 AM EDT
The Miami Heat applaud as they receive the Eastern Conference Championship trophy after defeating the Boston Celtics in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


The Miami Heat experienced bitter disappointment in the NBA Finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. While the performance was not what Heat fans wanted, the South Beach loyal have cause for optimism. They have a bright young core of players, mixed with grizzled veterans, and a fiery leader in the form of the Jimmy Butler. Getting out of the East, however, will not be as easy next season, as teams like the Celtics, Raptor and Bucks will want to avenge their performances.

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Along with that, the Brooklyn Nets will be a power-house contender, with the return of Kevin Durant to full fitness. But Miami can use this postseason to improve themselves and come back even stronger for the 2021 season. In order to do so, they first need to do the following things
 

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#1: Let Goran Dragić Go

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Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) reacts against the Boston Celtics
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Given the numbers Dragić put up in much of the postseason, this seems like a bad move. Averaging about 19.1 points a game with 44% FG, the numbers suggest that the Heat should offer him an improved deal immediately. But the fact of the matter is Dragić is 34 years old and has seen much of his athleticism dwindle due to age. He is no longer the force that he once used to be, despite what his off-season record suggests.
Additionally, ‘The Dragon’s’ presence will be detrimental in the long run to Tyler Herro. The rookie sensation proved himself to be one of the slept-on gems of the 2019 Draft class and will merit more minutes next season. While Herro is originally a shooting-guard, the point-guard abilities and plays he exhibited in the postseason cannot go unnoticed. With Dragić’s departure, Herro is free to take over the point-guard duties for the Heat, and the franchise clears out valuable cap space. Yet, that does leave a gap in the shooting-guard position for the Heat. Well….
 

#2: Trade for Bradley Beal

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Dec 26, 2019; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
While most Heat fans have heard rumblings about a trade for Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal would be the better option for the South Beach franchise. While both would cost the same in terms of wages, Bradley Beal is a year younger and hasn’t had the injury problems that Oladipo has. Additionally, given the fallout of the Paul George trade from a few years ago, the Pacers are usually reluctant to let go of their star player.
A realistic trade for Beal could see Andre Iguodala, Kelly Olynyk, and either Kendrick Nunn or Duncan Robinson go to the Washington Wizards with a 2020 1st Round Draft pick. Adding Beal, an All-Star level player to the team, alongside Butler and Bam Adebayo would allow for a new Heat Big-3 after Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. Beal’s attitude problems and the Wizards’ overreliance on him make this deal difficult, but the aforementioned pieces should allow Miami to get their guy. But Beal shouldn’t be the only superstar the Heat should be eying.
 

#3: Make preparations for Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks against Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo during the second half of game two of the second round. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Riley promised Butler that he would pair him with another All-Star when he convinced him to sign with Miami. But he never kept that number limited to 1. By forgoing Dragić, and trading away Olynyk, Robinson/Nunn, and Iguodala, the Heat will clear close to $35-36 Million in cap space. The addition of Beal would see about $28-29 Million taken from that. Add to this that the Heat are projected to have a $125 Million max cap space in the 2021-2022 season.  By the end of the off-season, Pat Riley needs to come up with a plan that allows the Heat to sign 2-time League-MVP Giannis Antetokounpo in free agency.
Adding Giannis while retaining his core group of players (including Beal) would be a major coup for Riley. But for that, the planning and preparation need to be done way in advance. A plan to lure Giannis is crucial, who has stated his desire to stay in Milwaukee if it could help him win an NBA Title. There should also be a contingency plan with a backup option should Giannis turn them down. If the Heat can sign Giannis and pair him with Butler, Adebayo, Herro, and Beal, they would be set to dominate the Eastern Conference, the whole of NBA.

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Heat Dynasty?

These moves could see the Miami Heat become a juggernaut in the NBA once again, not just next year, but for the foreseeable future. The 2021 NBA season could be the start of a new Heat dynasty if they make the right moves. Team Construction is a tricky business, and no one would know that better than Pat Riley and the Miami Heat. They need to be sharp, smart, and economical.
Can the Heat create a new dynasty in the next few years? What should they expect in the 2021 season?

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1019 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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