The Miami Heat entered this offseason in the same position they have been in the last couple years, completely cap-restricted and seemingly stuck with the ok but not great roster they already had in place. Well, it seemed like only one playoff win over the past two years was finally enough for Pat Riley to feel comfortable making some big changes, but there was still the question of how this could actually be done. Apparently all it took was for one star free agent to want to come to South Beach, and everything else took care of itself.
Jimmy Butler, who the Heat tried to trade for before last season, saw that his workhorse mentality was a perfect fit within the Miami Heat culture built by Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra. So, on the first night of free agency a deal was already in place for Butler to come to Miami, but the question was how the Heat would create the space for the acquisition. They had to send Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, which no doubt stung a little bit, but Butler is a major upgrade in pretty much every facet of the game. They also were able to ship out Hassan Whiteside to Portland for Meyers Leonard, in a deal that the Heat feel will help their team both on and off the court.
There were some brief moments that the Heat were interested in trading for Russell Westbrook, but they ultimately decided against giving up a piece of their talented young core of Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow, and Tyler Herro. Bam will be the full time starting center for the Heat for the first time in his young career, and the expectation that his defensive versatility and effort will be showcased as he takes a step to becoming one of the best young centers in the NBA. Winslow got off to a slow start to begin his career, but Spoelstra moved him to point guard last year and Winslow responded by flashing his playmaking abilities and improved 3-point shooting. Herro will be a rookie and is only 19 years old, but his elite shooting will assuredly earn him lots of minutes this season.
As for the rest of the roster, Miami has lots of quality role players that can now focus on their specialties now with Butler stepping in as the star. Dion Waiters has been known to raise his game as his contract is ending, so maybe he turns it around this year and rises as a dynamic scoring threat either at the starting shooting guard spot or coming off the bench. The same can be expected for Goran Dragic, as even though he is getting older he is still a crafty finisher in the paint and loves to push the ball in transition. Kelly Olynyk has shown to be a great fit next to Adebayo in the front court, and as long as he keeps knocking down shots he should maintain a prominent role on the team this coming season.