Guts Check: Heat Draft Notes, Summer Strategy, Goran Good Graces

Hope still exists that the 2019-20 NBA season resumes and the Miami Heat can make a playoff run. Heat Nation is looking forward to finding out who this team is, as is the organization. Unfortunately, that day may not come any time soon, if at all.

If the season does not resume, the reality is the Heat may currently be equipped with all the data they are going to get heading into the off-season.

So while playoff runs and real basketball are still the hope, this down time inevitably provides valuable moments to evaluate options related to the NBA draft and free agency.

When games are not being played and practices are at a halt, it gives top level executives and coaches a unique opportunity to work cross functionally with the scouting department more than usual.

2020 NBA Draft Notes

Should the Heat elect to keep its 2020 1st Round Pick, which is probably 50/50 if I had to put odds on it at this way too early of a moment, here are some names I think Heat fans should be keeping close tabs on for now:.

  • Kentucky Wildcat Guards Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans are both on the Heat’s radar if either were to be available when Miami selects (in the first round or elsewhere) according to a league source. Riley loves his Kentucky players.
  • The POA defensive chops of Duke’s Tre Jones appeal as a back-court player to supplement the already potent offensive young core in Miami.
  • The Heat are especially enamored with the potential of Florida State’s wing Devin Vassell according to a league source. However, Vassell is currently projected to likely go before Miami picks in the first round.
  • Duke freshman center Vernon Carey Jr. and Minnesota big man Daniel Oturu are among the frontcourt players the Heat have registered interest in as prospects according to a source.
  • The Heat may shift more focus to the front-court in this draft it they plan to move on from Kelly Olynyk and unrestricted free agent Meyers Leonard. In that case the list of viable big man prospects will expand in the next few weeks/months.

This all operates under the assumption that the Heat even keeps this 2020 first round pick.

Summer Strategy

League circles suggest the Heat may attempt to package the 2020 1st round pick with a useful player/expiring contract such as Kelly Olynyk to consolidate for multiple purposes.

Those purposes include:

  • Trading up or down in this draft to acquire a player they like (Vassell or Oturo are speculative examples of players they could target in pre-arranged trades to be executed after new league year)
  • Shed the $13.6 million left on the contract of Olynyk along with the salary associated with the 2020 1st Round Pick. In efforts to clear over $40M in cap space for this summer.
  • This could help the Heat get extra creative and retain all the current core FAs it desires – on 1-year contracts – and remain out of the luxury tax. (Core FA for 1 year deals = Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder & Leonard)
  • Derrick Jones Jr. projects as the only potential multi-year contract player considered viable. But only if the per year salary number is in line with 2021 spending. Dragic, Leonard and Crowder are all candidates to receive 1 year maybe-just-maybe-slightly-above-market-value offers. All in efforts to not sacrifice flexibility for Summer 2021 and remain out of the luxury tax next season.
  • Create additional flexibility to pounce if Joel Embiid, Victor Oladipo, CJ McCollum or Bradley Beal become available via trade. Those are the names to watch closest from the star trade market by my view. A lopsided salary swap, where the Heat absorbed additional salary along with any of those noted All Stars is one path the Heat will explore. Some folks around the league think these targets appear far more realistic than Giannis Antetokounmpo for Miami. Not sure I’m buying that personally.

Goran Good Graces

Recently reports surfaced that Goran Dragic may be gearing up for a lucrative, short term contract to remain in Miami next season.

After almost trading Dragic last summer, only to have him come back to Miami and embrace his bench role in 6th man of the year fashion, the Heat are looking to find a way to make it work with its former All Star. The Dragon & Jimmy Buckets bromance has only reinforced the sentiment to find a way to retain Gogi. However, don’t rule out the possibility of Dragic being open minded to working with the organization from a salary perspective if it were to allow for a significant upgrade to the roster. Goran wants to win.

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