Miami Heat: Free agency has gotten off to a questionable start for the Heat

March 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley (11) practices before playing against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
March 6, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Avery Bradley (11) practices before playing against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

For the Miami Heat, free agency has gotten off to a questionable start

The Miami Heat is a franchise that has a fantastic track record when it comes to acquiring talent. Whether it be through the draft, free agency, or simply a genius trade, the trio of President Pat Riley, General Manager Andy Elisburg, and team CEO Nick Arison has proven to be scarier than most big threes out there on the court.

It’s for this reason that I’m so hesitant to criticize an organization as functional as Miami. I will preface this by saying that I do indeed have monumental trust in this team doing what’s best for their future, but for the time being, I simply don’t see how the recent moves they’ve made do that.

For starters, let’s go down the list of moves they’ve made in these first few days of free agency: They’ve re-signed Udonis Haslem on a one-year, 2.5 million dollar contract, brought back Goran Dragic on a two-year, 37.4 million dollar contract, re-signed Meyers Leonard to a two-year 20 million dollar contract, and signed two significant new additions to the roster in Mo Harkless (one-year, $3.6 million,) and Avery Bradley (two-year, $11.5 million).

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At a surface level, all of these signings appear harmless. As a matter of fact, they seem pretty solid. Haslem will always be a fan favorite, Dragic proved to be very valuable in last season’s playoffs, Meyers Leonard could give the team some minutes as a good backup center, and Harkless and Bradley are two very good 3-and-D guys. What’s the issue?

The issue comes in the fact that, when analyzing all of these moves, they can best be described as “mediocre,” or “solid,” or “sure! why not?”. Outside of Leonard getting somewhat overpaid, none of these moves are glaringly atrocious. But, these decisions signify Miami’s contentedness with extended mediocrity, with committing to the same core of guys who were seen as lucky to even make it out of the second round last season.

It’s a fact that nobody expected Miami to go on the run that they did last year in the postseason. The primary reason it was so miraculous, however, was the fact that their team didn’t have all that much star power – and it was that very lack of star power that resulted in this team eventually falling short of the championship. We let their loss slide because, in the future, they had the money to go after someone to fix this issue.

Instead, they went after Avery Bradley.

Last year’s Miami squad was looked at as one that had incredible depth and effective role players, as well as a system that helped these role players thrive. This is, of course, is all great, but when your depth in role players is your team’s greatest strength, perhaps acquiring even more with the ample money you have left to spend shouldn’t be the priority.

This is a team obsessed with plugging role players into a system that perfectly suits them, but, eventually, we have to move on from this phase. Given the core that they have now, as well as potential super-teams being built in Milwaukee, Brooklyn, and Philly (teams that have actually been chasing bigger names instead of Mo Harkless,) the Heat look destined to fall to the third or fourth seed in the East instead of dominating the conference.

Miami will still have the financial flexibility to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo next summer, but that’s essentially a pipe dream at this point. Nothing more. They had the money to spend to improve this roster right now, but instead, they went out and more of what they already had.

A team like this doesn’t need an Avery Bradley or Mo Harkless – they need an all-star. If they don’t get that, this team will continue to be looked at as an underdog going into the playoffs when they could’ve been heavy favorites for years to come.

To make things worse, in the midst of their obsession to get as many mediocre talents as they could in the past few days, the team forgot to hold onto Jae Crowder, a man who I consider to be one of the best 3-and-D players in the league. Crowder was an integral part of the Heat’s system, and although they do now have some good replacements to fill in for him and soften the blow, I don’t think any of them will match Jae’s all-around ability to shoot, defend, and seamlessly fit on this team. His loss will be felt in a significant way.

Next. NBA: Early winners and losers of the 2020 offseason. dark

All the hype and excitement we had for this team due to their amount of cap space has now almost completely diminished. I’ll be the last person to count the Heat now, but for the time being, their recent moves perplex me.