Five Reasons the Future Is Bright for the Miami Heat

George Martinez

For most Heat fans, this weekend brought bad news: Disgruntled All-Star guard Jimmy Butler was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Philadelphia 76ers, rather than to the Heat. Some fans thought acquiring Butler would return our Vice jersey-wearing ballers to the NBA Finals conversation. Then the Heat, an underdog in tonight's 7:30 p.m. game in Brooklyn against the lowly Nets, dropped games to the Indiana Pacers and the struggling Washington Wizards, and a full-fledged panic broke out.

All is not lost though, depressed Heat fans. Collect your damn selves, pull up your big-boy pants, and look at what this franchise has going for it. Consider the long-term health of the team. Outside of Dwyane Wade's farewell tour, 2018-19 was never going to be memorable.

Here are a few things that should make Heat fans smile today. Cheer up, grumpy ones!

1. Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Rodney McGruder all look like terrific pieces. While there's reason to harp on the Heat's lack of a legit roster star, it's just as important to have a core of solid young players to build for the long term. As Heat fans learned during the Big 3 era, even a trio of future Hall of Famers in their prime assures nothing if the rest of the team is subpar.

Miami has a promising nucleus of young players who are only getting better. Richardson (25), Winslow (22), Adebayo (21), and McGruder (27) are all high-level NBA pros who are improving with playing time and responsibility. All but McGruder are locked up, contract-wise, for the foreseeable future. Unless you're the Warriors or LeBron James' current team, this is a huge plus.

2. After running up a huge bill, Miami only has one first-round pick left to pay out. Everyone loves to say first-round picks don't matter if you're always drafting in the middle of the round. They forget that the best way to land an NBA star is to have multiple first-round picks. Miami has those again after paying off its Toronto (Bosh), Cleveland (LeBron), and Phoenix (Dragic) debts.

None of the solid young players mentioned above was a high first-round selection. Miami management has proven it can spot below-the-radar talent. Good news is on the way.

3. If the Heat is patient, the salary cap situation will look a lot better with time. After next season, the Heat gains a lot of flexibility. Tyler Johnson, Goran Dragic, and Hassan Whiteside could all come off the books. As things seem now, none of those players would be brought back at anywhere near their current price.

If Miami doesn't do anything stupid (Oh hey, Dion Waiters contract!), it could be ripe for a huge score next offseason. Miami doesn't have to wait, either. If the team tries to trade for a star next year as it just did with Jimmy Butler, it can dangle the carrot of having the big money to keep the player long-term. That matters.

4. Erik Spoelstra likely isn't going anywhere. It's hard to believe, but Spoelstra isn't even age 50 yet. He could coach this Heat team into the next decade and well beyond. It's his job until he doesn't want it anymore.

Spo is a top-five coach in the NBA. Even if some ignorant Heat fans on social media won't take literally everyone in the league's word for it, that's the case. He's proven capable of teaching a young squad and managing the egos of an all-time historically talented championship one. Count your blessings here. Never take Spo for granted. If you forget this, take a look at the list of men who have coached the other teams.

5. Add up everything above, and the greatest factor on the Heat's side is timing. The Miami Heat isn't a contender now. It won't be a contender tomorrow either, regardless of any potential trade. It's not going to happen with Golden State, LeBron, Houston, Boston, Philly, Toronto, and about 10 other teams better equipped to compete in 2018. That's fine, though, because if the Heat sticks to the script, the fruits of its labor could pay off at the perfect time.

Golden State can't continue this run. Miami and every other dynasty team has proven that. Two things are undefeated in the NBA: Father Time and the salary cap. Both eventually bite you in the ass. Golden State soon will face not being able to keep its team together.

LeBron is aging. He will give it a go with L.A., but come 2020-2021 when the Heat should be primed to seriously compete, he'll be pushing 40 and unable to carry a team. See above: Father Time.

Miami can wait out everyone, prime itself to pounce when the time is right, and be a true contender when other teams are declining. The Heat needs to compete with the teams of the future, not those of today. Jimmy Butler wouldn't have fit that plan. The Heat did well to pass on him and his price.

Everything is fine in Miami. The Heat isn't going anywhere, and neither are the championship banners or reputation as a class organization. Now is the time to enjoy the progress and squirrel away assets, rather than harp on winning in Indiana in November 2018.