The Miami Heat finished last season with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 53-29, no small feat in a conference that has shaped up to be extremely competitive. They also came terribly close to making it back to the NBA Finals, just falling short to the eventual runner-up Boston Celtics in a hard-fought seven game Conference Finals series that saw star Jimmy Butler give it his all.
However, the Eastern Conference arms race is as competitive as ever, especially after the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. If there’s anyone who knows how to keep up in a cutthroat environment, it’s Heat president Pat Riley, the famous architect of the championship-winning iterations of the famous South Beach-based team.
In a quest for a championship. no one is safe (except for, perhaps, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo). With all that said, with the Heat still looking to get over the playoff hump, here are two players the Heat could potentially dangle in hopes of acquiring an upgrade.
The easy answer, last year, Duncan Robinson suffered through his worst season since he emerged as the Heat’s starting shooting guard in 2019. Robinson scuffled to the tune of 10.9 points per game on 37% shooting from deep during the 2021-22 season, a far cry from the 45% he shot during his breakout year. After signing a five-year, $90 million contract during the 2021 offseason, the Heat certainly expected Robinson to perform better than he has, and they surely did not expect Robinson’s contract to quickly turn into one of the more outrageous in the league.
It’d be one thing if Robinson still contributed in other facets of the game, but he didn’t – he averaged a mere 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.5 steals in 26 minutes a night while playing poor to mediocre defense, and was soon replaced by the emergent Max Strus. Robinson was paid to shoot, and shoot well, but it just hasn’t worked out for both parties in Year 1 of his huge contract.
It got so dire for the 28-year old sharpshooter that he was relegated to playing only 12.2 minutes off the Heat bench in 13 games during the 2022 postseason, compared to Strus who started all 18 Heat playoff games. Simply put, Robinson’s stock has dipped precipitously, and it’s difficult to see any team moving heaven and earth to take on him as a reclamation project.