Guts Check: Try to win now or wait for 2021? Heat can do both

Welcome to Guts Check by Greg Sylvander. A weekly Miami Heat column aimed at bringing readers my perspective on all the hot topics surrounding the team. You can expect a regular balance of sourced information, analysis and feeling the Heat down in my soul. In the name of Trusting the Spocess, let’s call these weekly columns position-less.

 Since we last touched base:

  • Won at Indiana 122-108
  • Lost at Brooklyn 117-113
  • Lost at New York 124-121
  • Current Record: 27-12, 3rd in the East, tied for 4th best record in the league


Win Now or 2021 Plan? Or both?


Today a clip from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst began circulating regarding the Heat’s plans to build another super team. Which could as a surprise to no member of Heat Nation.

It was then punctuated by tweets from two former players that elude to the possibility of the best player on planet Earth (& current Milwaukee Buck) Giannis Antetokounmpo being the Heat’s top priority.

I think everyone realizes by now that every team will have Giannis as a top priority that summer. The mystique surrounding Riley, allure of Miami as a destination and the fact that Antetokounmpo & Heat star Bam Adebayo share an agent all have added flames to this fire.

However, as the Heat come off 2 bad losses to subpar teams, with question marks about the sustainability of their hot start and the current team’s ceiling, fans have been firing up the trade machine since Sunday evening.

Can the make a win now move without sacrificing 2021 plans? Some have been skeptical.

Could they trade for a player that the franchise’s new superstar Jimmy Butler has advocated for – Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday – without sacrificing this shot (of all shots worth shooting) at the Greek Freek in summer 2021?

Let’s investigate.

First, we must establish that this reckless fake trade speculation is arriving on your doorstep in far less elaborate packaging than say the great Albert Nahmad has done here.

This is just rough math (let’s call it Culture rounding) aimed at giving you a snapshot at how the Heat could conceivably position itself to acquire a player such as Holiday before the February trade deadline and also preserve the flexibility necessary to sign Giannis.

To know how much the Heat will have to spend in 2021, we first would need to speculate on what contracts need to be included in the trade for Jrue Holiday.

For the sake of this exercise – let’s assume it takes at minimum a package that resembles Justise Winslow, Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk and a draft pick of some kind.

One important note about the following potential scenario – it would unfortunately make it hard for the Heat to retain Derrick Jones Jr and Goran Dragic – although there could even be ways of making that happen if the players and organization were aligned on plans.

If we then operate under the assumption that the Heat make no other long-term salary commitments prior to 2021, and renounce any lingering cap holds, this is what the Heat’s cap sheet would look like heading into that summer:

  • Jimmy Butler $36M
  • Jrue Holiday $26M (lets assume he opts IN – which could be considered unlikely)
  • Tyler Hero $4M
  • KZ Okpala $1.8M
  • Chris Silva $2M cap hold
  • Bam Adebayo cap hold $12.8M
  • Duncan Robinson cap hold $2M
  • Ryan Anderson dead cap $5M
  • 2020 1st Round Pick 2nd year salary: $2M
  • 4 minimum roster charges: $4M

That brings the total committed salary to $95M or so heading into summer 2021.

The salary cap for 2021 is projected to be $125M

That leaves the Heat with somewhere around $30M in cap space.

Giannis Year One Max is projected to be $37M.

So, the Heat find themselves around $7M short.

However, if you can find a team to take KZ Okpala and the player you select with your 2020 1st Round Pick (if it hasn’t been traded by then) you gain back $4M.

That get’s you to $34M in cap space.

Renounce the cap hold of Silva and you get to $36M – only $1 million short of the year one Giannis max total.

Then all that would be left to do is convince Giannis to do an unprecedented, unfathomable act, something that has never been executed in Miami Heat history.

He would have to sacrifice a relatively small amount of his year one annual income (relatively speaking) to land in Miami on a super team. And yes, seeing how this version of the Heat would have Butler, Holiday, Giannis, Bam, Herro & Robinson as its core – I think we could deem them a potential super team.

Sounds impossible, if we hadn’t already seen players do it to team up down here in the past.

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