It's been a couple of weeks since the Heat was rudely dismissed from the playoffs by the Philadelphia 76ers. Though the result of the series doesn't tell the entire story of how close the games against the Sixers were, one thing is certain as the Heat enters the offseason: Miami isn't close to being a serious contender, and it won't be in the conversation for an NBA title anytime soon.
The Heat needs to start selling off parts, and the team should begin by unloading All-Star point guard Goran Dragic to the highest bidder — not because Dragic isn't a terrific part of the Heat right now, but because he definitely isn't part of Miami's future.
At some point, both the Heat and its fans need to look around the NBA and realize planning for 2020 and beyond — not battling for the right to try really hard in the playoffs but ultimately getting easily bounced — is the best strategy. Pat Riley has a reputation for going for it all. The roster he has put together right now shows otherwise. Riley needs to take a good look in the mirror and pivot to a long-term strategy, or he needs to let someone else who is willing to be
The Heat has yet to begin paying off the bill on Dragic. The Suns own the Heat's first-round pick both this year and in 2021. By the time the Heat has fulfilled its obligations to the Suns, Dragic will be 35 years old and probably no longer playing for Miami. That's the price the Heat had to pay when the Big Three were blown up and Miami needed to field a competitive team. It happens. The Heat can, however, lessen some of that sting by recouping some assets, no matter how small, while Dragic is still under contract. The Heat doesn't even have a second-round pick until 2022. They can use all the asset-replenishing they can get, and fast.
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Dragic should be an attractive option for a win-now team. He enters 2018 with two salary-cap-friendly seasons left on his contract ($18 million and $19 million). Those number might seem high, but that's a steal for a starting point guard in today's NBA. For reference, Tyler Johnson will make more than Dragic over the next two seasons. Cashing in on that value now, before it diminishes, should be a top priority this offseason for Miami.
The Heat should be giving Dragic's minutes to a young point guard who will be playoff-ready by the time the rest of the roster is a true contender. Fans used to make the argument that Dwyane Wade was taking up valuable minutes from younger players, but that's even truer with Dragic on this squad.
The sad reality is this: The Heat will not be in a position to compete with NBA's best teams anytime soon. They have zero cap flexibility and few assets to improve their roster. They're locked into a lot of bad contracts for the foreseeable future. To unload any of them, Miami would have to sweeten the deal with a player such as Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, or
Do fans really want to continue watching more 42-40 seasons? The Heat can roll up that record with its eyes closed. Miami can compete now but also be smart about its future. Dragic isn't a part of the Heat's future. It's time to sell him off to the highest bidder for the good of the team.