Time for another Miami Heat mailbag
If you were not able to ask a question this time, send them along for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From Ken, Stuart: Have the playoffs told us anything more about how far away the Heat are?
The Heat had a short stay in the playoffs, being bounced from the postseason in five games by Philadelphia. And while they were competitive for one half in every game, in the end, nobody believes Miami’s future is anywhere close the Sixers’.
If that is the case, and Philadelphia is much closer to competing for a title than the Heat, where does that put the Heat when it comes to the Celtics, who eliminated Philadelphia in five games and now are two games away from the NBA Finals?
The Heat have a lot of work to do to return to the top of the Eastern Conference, probably more than we thought after watching the playoffs unfold. The Sixers not only have two of the league’s young budding stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, they have enough assets to make a blockbuster trade, the 10th and 26th pick in the draft and are one of a few teams with cap space. So, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Philadelphia could end up with both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
And they aren’t even the team with the brightest future in the conference. That is Boston, which continues to win in the playoffs without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, its two best players. While the Celtics are capped out, they still are the future of the conference because of their star power, several young assets and future draft situation (the Celtics could have three first-round picks in 2019), which gives Boston flexibility if it wants to make a move for someone like Leonard.
We haven’t even touched on teams like the Pacers, and others with more stars than the Heat like the Bucks, Wizards and Raptors (all of whom have underachieved but still are in position to make deals), and even the Bulls, who have a nice nucleus and will be adding the No. 7 overall pick.
All of this means Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg have some work to do. It is hopeless? Not at all. The Heat won 44 games without Dion Waiters for most of the season and they have some nice young players with a lot of room to grow. Their flexibility is limited and they do not have a draft pick but Riley has been in situations like this before. He will be active this summer when it comes to the trade market and if he can make a couple of moves to bring in a star player (there are several on the market) or free up cap space the Heat could start making a move up the conference ladder.
From @MOB_4LIFE_: Will not tanking for one year in the 2016-2017 go down as the biggest mistake in franchise history? Season riddled with injuries, high chance of a transformative player, and most importantly not over pay on journey men in the off-season.
I totally disagree: First, someone has to explain just how the Heat were going to ‘tank’ in 2016-178. Should Erik Spoelstra not have played Goran Dragic or Waiters or Hassan Whiteside (remember, Whiteside led the league in rebounding and averaged 17.0 points per game)? Or should he have told Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder to not try hard? Just go out there and stink up the joint. Miami was 30-11 the second half of the season, thinking this team should have thrown away a season, stopped developing its young players and tried to play like it did the first half is unrealistic.
Additionally, just how many “transformative” players were in the draft? Jayson Tatum and Donovan Mitchell are the closest. Otherwise, there are about eight solid players, none transformative. The Heat took Bam Adebayo at No. 14. Adebayo’s future is much brighter than about four players taken ahead of him.