With the July 1 start of free agency inching closer, the Heat have the flexibility they need to go after big names.
But does Heat president Pat Riley still have the cachet it takes to catch the eye of the “whales”? We answer that question and more in this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag.
@tlost21: Does Pat Riley still have the cachet to get into the room with these big-name free agents? It seems like we’re always a long shot.
Anthony Chiang: Yes. The Heat are still relevant and Pat Riley’s legendary aura is still alive. Need proof? Miami is in the game for big-name free agents almost every offseason. Do the Heat land a “whale” every summer? No. But Miami consistently finds itself in the conversation. The story behind the Big Three has been told a million times. But even after the Big Three, Pat got a meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge in 2015 even though the Heat weren’t thought of as a real player for him. And last offseason, the Heat were one of six teams to meet with Kevin Durant. That trend seems like it will continue this summer, as Miami has already been mentioned as one of the teams expected to be involved in the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes. ESPN NBA reporter Marc Stein tweeted Friday morning, “Free Agency Scuttle: Volume is rising on the whispers that the team worrying Utah in Gordon Hayward’s free agency is Miami as much as Boston.” As long as Pat and the Heat are getting meetings with these big-name free agents, his cachet is still a real thing.
@jordanmaleyy: What should expectations be for Justise Winslow next season?
Anthony Chiang: The expectations for Justise should be simple … to be a better player than he was last season. It’s important to remember Justise is 21 years old and has played in just 109 NBA games, including the playoffs. It seems like he’s almost done with his rehab from shoulder surgery and Rodney McGruder has been impressed by what he’s seen from Justise in the offseason.
“I was watching him today and I was like, ‘You better watch out. Justise looks good,'” McGruder said Tuesday. “‘He looks really good.”
There’s still plenty of room for Justise to grow, and that’s exciting for the Heat.