And now, suddenly, it's over. The strangest NBA season ever ended in mid-October, a time when the new season normally begins. Instead, the NBA has begun an offseason that's likely to run into January.
So what do Heat fans have to look forward to during the holidays, a time when there are usually games being played? Here are a few questions that should keep Heat fans on their toes until the team takes the court again.
Will the Heat actually make a selection in the NBA draft? The NBA draft takes place November 18. That's weird. In a normal year, the Heat has usually already played a handful of games by mid-November. But this year, the team will be looking for another young player to add to its core.
The Heat will have the 20th pick in this year's draft — unless the pick is traded for a win-now type player. More on that next....
Who might that be? New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday is a name to watch. On a larger scale, Paul George could become available if the Los Angeles Clippers want to blow up their highly disappointing team.
Will the Heat keep Goran Dragic? There seems to be no doubt that Miami is the place Goran Dragic should be in 2021. Jimmy Butler and Dragic are best buddies, and Dragic was one of the biggest reasons Miami made a deep run this year.
But Miami wants to keep its options open for next offseason, when players like Giannis Antetokounmpo will be available, meaning Dragic will have to be flexible on the money side of things if he wants to stick around. It's likely Dragic gets a big one-year deal this offseason, and the two sides revisit matters next year.
Does Udonis Haslem move on to life after basketball? We've asked the question for what feels like the last seven years. Since the Big Three broke up, it was always assumed that Haslem was on a year-to-year contract that carried over to the next if he wanted to return.
Proud to announce that my Wynwood Works affordable housing project has officially been approved by @CityofMiami... Big thank you @alexDLPmiami @kenrussellmiami @KeonHardemon for believing in us. #HaslemHousing #MagellanHousing #CityofMiami #AffordableHousing #Wynwood #OG pic.twitter.com/nCpAwZI4Ro— Udonis Haslem (@ThisIsUD) September 25, 2020
Last season, everyone thought Haslem would retire alongside Dwyane Wade. Instead, he returned and escorted the Heat to the NBA Finals. Does he go for another round, or will he move to the coaching side of the bench? Or will he spend his time doing things for the community and becoming a businessman?
Whatever UD does, he'll no doubt be great at it, and the people around him will be lucky to have him there.
Will Tyler Herro start next season? After blowing up in the playoffs, Tyler Herro is a household name. It would make sense if he were to enter next season as a starter for the Heat. That will be dictated by whatever moves the Heat makes this offseason, though.
???????? The Best of Tyler Herro in the Bubble! pic.twitter.com/GWiHewIspx— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 18, 2020
Herro will still only be a 20-year-old, second-year player when next season starts. It's totally possible the Heat makes him a sixth man if the roster calls for it.
Does Jae Crowder re-sign with the Heat? Jae Crowder was the definition of a "glue guy" during the Heat's amazing finals run. Even when his three-point shot was off, he was a vital part of the team on the defensive end and an active player on the offensive end. He just does the right things over and over. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don't, but Crowder is about as safe a player as the Heat could ask for in his spot.
Jae Crowder was a boost to the Heat's run to the Finals. He did a great job of spotting up when there were paint touches created by the Heat's playmakers. According to Synergy, Crowder averaged 1.269 PPP on spot ups w/ the Heat this season— Pro Intuition (@Pro_Intuition) October 18, 2020
Full Video: https://t.co/4Zgs7QjUDs pic.twitter.com/PK9OEib2ej
Crowder is likely to command a good contract this offseason. But like Dragic, he may be willing to take a bigger one-year deal that would allow the Heat to keep its 2021 options open.
Is there any way Derrick Jones Jr. returns to the Miami Heat? The obvious answer to the question of whether the Heat will re-sign Jones Jr. — a player who barely saw the floor during the entire playoffs — is no. Jones Jr. has interest from other teams that may view him as more of a difference-maker than the Heat did.
According to @ShamsCharania, #Heat impending UFA SF-PF Derrick Jones Jr. is expected to be sought-after, and #Hawks and #Hornets are expected to express interest. Shams also mentioned the previously reported #Cavs #Cavaliers.— Kyle Cohen (@kylecohenNBA) October 15, 2020
So he's likely a goner from Miami. He's one of those players who's nice to develop and use in your rotation but nowhere near vital enough to justify paying big bucks for when the time comes.
Is there room for Meyers Leonard to return? Of all the players who may not return to the Heat, Meyers Leonard may be the biggest question mark. Leonard started all season and was a model, card-carrying member of the Heat-Culture Club, but when the playoffs rolled around, he only played a handful of minutes, mostly owing to injuries.
One caption won’t do it but let me try. Traded for the first time in my career.. Fell in love with the #Culture and #HeatNation .. This year taught me a lot about myself as a man and as a player. I’m thankful to have been welcomed with open arms into the @MiamiHEAT organization. pic.twitter.com/Ofty6nThHf— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) October 13, 2020
Leonard is a seven-footer who can hit the three-pointer. He won't come cheap. He probably doesn't fit into the Miami Heat's future plans.
When will the new season begin, and will there be fans? When and where the next season will begin is never a thing we spend time discussing or wondering about. As with everything else in 2020, nothing is usual or normal.
Two lessons the league should learn from the NBA bubble: Play-in games work, and they can’t compete with the NFL. @ChrisVernonShow and @KevinOConnorNBA discuss this and more, including when the 2021 season should begin. #TheMismatch pic.twitter.com/SSOz7syEdj— The Ringer (@ringer) October 20, 2020
As of now, there's a real possibility that next season will begin in late January, and that it will do so within another NBA bubble. That would be a subpar outcome but something totally understandable, given how well the first bubble went. Good luck selling players on going through that ordeal again, though. Changes will be made if the league tries to duplicate the feat.
The bigger question is this: Who does Jimmy Butler most want to play with? Giannis Antetokounmpo is on everyone's radar, but he's a winning lottery ticket at this point. Of the second-tier players, is there one Butler likes most? It will be interesting to watch social-media moves this offseason.
When does Bam Adebayo get paid? Bam is going to get paid. He's a max player the Miami Heat will pay as much money as the league will allow. The question is if the team gives him the contract this offseason, or if he agrees to put it off a year in hopes that he Heat can make some ninja salary-cap moves that would allow them to fit a big fish (like Antetokounmpo) under the cap.
My biggest thing is how are the Miami Heat going to deal with Bam Adebayo contract before making any significant move— Samir Bader (@SamirBader21) October 14, 2020
Chances are Bam is understanding of the situation but wants to get paid. Fans can't blame him if he wants to become financially secure for life right now rather than chance it for another year in the name of the greater good.