The Miami Heat had a historical 2019-2020 season. Despite being regarded as a good team, nobody expected them to come anywhere near the NBA Finals. The Heat have been a forgotten franchise for years, ever since the Big Three era came to a massive halt once LeBron James bolted out of town. Since then, they have tried to remain competitive but have always held on to the lower seeding in the East. This season, everything changed.
The Miami Heat managed to convince Jimmy Butler, the hard-working All-Star forward, to join the squad in Free Agency last year. Butler had a great thing going with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he made it known he didn’t quite fit into the Sixers (and specifically Brett Brown’s) game plan long-term. Butler knew he had the talent to be the man on an NBA team, but he wasn’t given that chance in Philly. The Sixers wanted the ball in Ben Simmons’s hands all the time and Joel Embiid was the major target every night. As good as they are, Jimmy Butler knew he was more than simply a third option on offense.
Many teams came fighting for Butler’s signature, such as the Houston Rockets among others, but he opted to take one of the most unpopular decisions to sign with the Miami Heat. NBA fans and media immediately began writing off Jimmy Butler for only caring about max dollars, a sunny lifestyle, and everything else that comes with being a young star in the “Instagram Era”. Jimmy Butler, the former villain and “locker room destructor” was expected to do the same same thing with an average Heat squad that only had semi-recognizable names like veteran Goran Dragic and young Bam Adebayo.
To make matters worse for the Heat, fans looked at the Eastern Conference as Milwaukee’s to lose. They had Giannis Antetokounmpo and a great coach in Mike Budenholzer, with a strong supporting cast such as Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton. Even the Boston Celtics were expected to make noise with Jayson Tatum leading the way, and the Sixers still had a Big Three with Embiid, Simmons, and Tobias Harris. In a nutshell, nobody really cared about the Heat because they weren’t expected to do anything.
Fast forward to the end of 2020, and the Miami Heat are fresh off an NBA Finals appearance. Every single media member and NBA fan knew that they were sorely mistaken to count out the Miami Heat. After all, Pat Riley and head coach Erick Spoelstra didn’t go anywhere did they? With Riley’s system well intact and Spoelstra coaching like one of the best coaches in the league, the Heat were a problem all year. Young guys like Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn were drafted and had unbelievable seasons, Duncan Robinson suddenly became one of the best shooters in the league, and Bam Adebayo jumped towards becoming an All-Star. The Heat knew they were on to something and even traded young prospect Justise Winslow to acquire former Finals MVP Andre Iguodala, slowly building a contending team. Of course, Jimmy Butler had a terrific season that earned him an All-NBA Third Team spot.
After nobody expected Miami to make noise, they are perhaps the best destination in the league right now. Jimmy Butler is quite possibly a superstar and franchise player and his hard-working nature fits like a pig in turd in Miami. Bam Adebayo is one of the best all-around big men in the NBA thanks to his passing ability and defense. Tyler Herro will be a star one day and has shown he has a killer mentality that fits in with Miami as well. With Pat Riley and Eric Spoelstra employing a no-nonsense approach to winning and teamwork, every top NBA free agent will want to be in Miami. Not to mention, of course, there are few more beautiful sunny places in the United States than Miami.
With a lineup of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro intact; the Heat can look towards a very exciting 2021 season. Here is why.
The NBA’s salary cap is expected to increase next year, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this could suffer slightly. Still, it is expected that the cap will go up at least to $110 million per franchise. That leaves Miami with a $67 million cap taking into account Jimmy Butler’s and Bam Adebayo’s contract. The Miami Heat have Bird Rights on Bam Adebayo, meaning they can sign Bam to a contract even if it exceeds the salary cap limit. So with a Big Two in place already, here is how they can create space for 2 more superstars.
Ryan Anderson ($5.2 million) and KZ Okpala ($1.8 million) can be cleared off the books if they trade their attractive expiring contracts. This means Miami has $74 million to spend and spend big to win. The Heat will have the financial capabilities to sign 2 big-name stars and even have a third-star player if they play their cards right. The Heat will have to make sacrifices, however, so it is expected that only Tyler Herro will have his contract extended to make way for an Unbeatable Big 6. While losing Duncan Robinson, Goran Dragic, and Kendrick Nunn hurts, the Heat will still end up being the best team in the NBA. Here is how.
Without a doubt, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the hottest free agent in 2021. He is the reigning two-time MVP and Defensive Player of the Year who has shown he can be the face of the NBA once LeBron James calls it quits on a legendary career. Giannis had a terrific season posting 30.4 PPG, 13.6 RPG, and 5.6 APG while leading the Bucks to the #1 seed. He is a top-5 player in the game and has also shown he wants to win no matter the cost. Like LeBron James, anywhere Giannis goes, the team becomes a favorite to win it all. With the Miami Heat, he will be joining an already-set system and franchise that wants to win. If Giannis agrees to take a small pay cut (similar to Miami’s previous Big Three), he can make his $30 million and still give the franchise space for another superstar. But who could that be? Most available NBA stars are expected to stay, but there could be one man looking for redemption. Fallen superstar Paul George, who just like Butler, has begun to face criticism about his mentality and locker room presence. The greatest redemption story would be George winning a ring after many claimed he simply doesn’t have the “It Factor”.
Once again, Miami is the ultimate destination for free agents. The franchise wants to win, and there is a system in place that hasn’t changed for over a decade. Players also have the option of enjoying the weather and everything in between, so this is a no-brainer. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro is a squad that is destined to rule the league for a very long time. To sweeten the pot, considering PG takes another small pay cut, the Heat can even acquire a player like Derrick Rose (yet another fallen point guard). Rose had a strong season averaging 18.1 PPG in 2019, making it clear he can still be a starting point guard for a title contender. Goran Dragic had a terrific run with Miami, but Rose can bring more to the table as a scoring point guard who is a terrific playmaker as well.
Overall, a Miami Heat Big 6 is in the cards for 2021. The franchise has set themselves up for free agency success by exceeding every expectation and making an NBA Finals run with only Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and rookie Tyler Herro leading the way. Even in the Finals, they fought back the Goliath Los Angeles Lakers to extend the series to 6 games despite not having Bam Adebayo or Goran Dragic healthy. Imagine if they sign the MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo? Imagine if they acquire Paul George and Derrick Rose, two hungry stars that want a crack at an NBA Finals appearance? The Miami Heat are coming ladies and gentlemen, so get ready for possibly the next Dynasty in the making in the form of a Heatles Unbeatable 6.