Heat Rumors: MIA 'To Protect' Cap for Giannis, LeBron and 2021 Free Agents

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 18, 2020

A Miami Heat logo is shown before the start of an NBA basketball game between the Heat and the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The Miami Heat reportedly aren't expected to be major players in free agency during the upcoming offseason.

According to Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor, the Heat are the one playoff team projected to have salary-cap space following the 2019-20 season, but they are expected to be "cautious" in an effort to save money for free agency in 2021.

Fedor added that the Heat are trying to "protect" their cap space to be players on the free-agent market when several superstars may become available.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George and Victor Oladipo are some of the many stars who could hit the open market next year.

As the NBA attempts to finalize a plan to finish the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs in Orlando, Florida, beginning next month, the Heat stand out as a true contender in the Eastern Conference.

They are fourth in the East at 41-24, boast a pair of All-Stars in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and have a strong supporting cast as well. Veteran guard Goran Dragic is a solid tertiary scorer, while the young trio of Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro have all been surprisingly big contributors.

It isn't outside the realm of possibility that the Heat could reach the Eastern Conference Finals or perhaps even the NBA Finals this season with their current roster. Assuming some of their younger players continue to improve, that could be the case next season as well.

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Because of that, the Heat don't necessarily have to get ultra-aggressive and dive headfirst into a free-agent market that pales in comparison to 2021's group.

Davis will be the crown jewel in free agency this offseason if he opts out, while DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Danilo Gallinari are some of the others who could hit the open market.

All of them are solid players and most have been All-Stars, but none of them aside from Davis are franchise-altering players—unlike next year's free-agency class, which could include several of the NBA's best players.

If anything, the Heat may want to look into retaining some of their own free agents such as Dragic and center Kelly Olynyk, or potentially consider signing a free agent or two to one-year contracts so they still have the option to go big-game hunting next offseason.

The Heat and team president Pat Riley know a thing or two about constructing a championship team via free agency: In the summer of 2010, he signed both LeBron and Chris Bosh to pair with Dwyane Wade.

In LeBron's four seasons with the Heat, Miami went to the NBA Finals four times and won a pair of championships.

The Heat already have a nice nucleus in place with Butler and Adebayo leading the way and several up-and-coming players lending support. If they can convince LeBron to return or sign another big name like Giannis, Kawhi or Davis, they have a chance to build another dynasty.