Mailbag: With no cap space or draft picks, can the Heat really improve this offseason?

Andy Elisburg, Pat Riley and Nick Arison celebrated the Miami Heat’s championship in 2013 (Getty Images)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com.

Ajith, Miami: The Heat are capped out, have a bunch of bad contracts and don’t have a draft pick. How does anybody expect Miami to improve this summer?

Anthony Chiang: It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. But don’t ever count out the Heat, especially with Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg working to improve the roster behind the scenes. The fact is they are facing some big obstacles, though. Miami has 11 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due $120 million. That puts the Heat way above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line. This does not include re-signing Wayne Ellington or bringing back Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, a sequence of moves that will put the Heat over the tax line if other salary can’t be shed. With all of that being said, the only way Miami can really improve its roster this offseason is through trades. Without cap space, the free agency path is out. Without a pick, the draft path is out. That leaves the Heat looking to make a deal. What attractive assets does Miami have to include in a deal? Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and a 2019 first-round pick are the Heat’s top trade assets entering the summer. The question is, will that be enough to land an All-Star caliber player or will these assets just be used as sweeteners to dumb a few of their bad contracts?

@mcLoveHer: Can Phoenix trade our pick back to us?

Anthony Chiang: Nice try. The Heat currently don’t have a pick in this year’s June 21 draft. Miami’s 2018 first-round selection belongs to the Suns — the first of two first-round picks owed from the 2015 acquisition of Dragic. The Heat also still owe the Suns an unprotected 2021 first-round pick to complete that transaction. The good news is the 2021 first-round pick is now the only future first-round selection the Heat have committed elsewhere.

[Heat president Pat Riley explains why he’s not ‘a draft pick guy’]

[List of familiar faces on Phoenix Suns just got longer for Goran Dragic after coaching hire]

[What is next in the evolution of Heat’s Justise Winslow?]

[Dwyane Wade surprises Waffle House hero James Shaw Jr. during Ellen Show]

[What are the Heat’s chances of acquiring Kawhi Leonard this summer?]

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