It’s so incredibly weird to imagine Dwyane Wade not in a Miami Heat uniform, but that’s what will happen next season after Wade decided to take his talents to his hometown of Chicago following a contract standoff with Miami. The Heat had to quickly rebound following Wade’s decision, and the Chris Bosh situation still lingers over the team as training camp approaches. Needless to say, it’s going to be an interesting season in South Beach.
1. Best move of offseason
David Ramil: Re-signing Hassan Whiteside. After just 1.5 really solid seasons in Miami, Whiteside was rewarded with a huge contract that makes him, for better or worse, the Heat’s focal point moving forward. Pessimistically, we’ve seen the best of Whiteside and with most of last year’s veteran core no longer with the team, he’ll struggle to find a way to develop offensively and will chase blocks to justify his huge deal. But I think he’ll actually take a step up and become both a more versatile scorer and functioning part of the offense, as well as a defender that can do more than simply swat shots at the rim.
Nekias Duncan: As controversial as it is, the best move Miami made was choosing Hassan Whiteside over Dwyane Wade. Wade is the greatest player in Heat history, a future first ballot Hall of Famer and a top four shooting guard of all time. He’s also 34 years old, an inconsistent (if not a minus) defender and a below-average perimeter shooter despite the random flame-throwing in the postseason. Giving Wade a three- or four-year deal just didn’t make much sense outside of the emotional appeal, and giving him a two-year deal with a player option — like the 2/40 Miami eventually offered — would’ve just pushed the contract drama back another year.
Maxing out the center that is seven years younger while still having upside on both sides of the ball just made more sense, especially considering Chris Bosh’s status being in limbo.
Kelly Scaletta: Retaining Whiteside was big. He still has to grow his game a lot, but he is on his way to becoming the most dominant big man in the league. They’ve been doing great developing him.
Jason Patt: There are some concerns about giving Hassan Whiteside a huge contract, but it was a necessary move given he’s still relatively young and we have no idea what’s going to happen with Chris Bosh. If Whiteside continues to develop, he’s a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate and dangerous rim-runner. Letting that kind of talent walk wouldn’t have been ideal.
2. Worst move of offseason
David: Just one? This one is easy, with the team basically nudging their franchise player, Dwyane Wade, out the door and toward Chicago. Wade was the face of the team for 13 seasons and helped advance Miami’s “winning culture” more than anyone. His skills had definitely become less dependable as time went on but there were still moments of utter brilliance that reminded you of his place among the historical greats. Moreover, as the team’s best recruiter and it’s most vocal leader, the void that Wade left behind won’t likely be filled by any one player and might impact the team negatively for years to come.
Nekias: The worst move would probably be the Dion Waiters signing. Getting Waiters for the room exception was an incredible bargain, but it added to the surplus of guards on Miami’s roster. Waiters does have potential as a sixth man. If he plays well enough, Miami could use him as a trade chip at the deadline.
Kelly: Betraying Wade by not “overpaying” him. There had to be a better way to work this out. Ask Whiteside to take a small cut if you have to, and use Wade as an example. Wade is synonymous with the Heat. And he’s sacrificed so much money to help for the Heat. People say, “Yeah, but he got rings.” Well, the Heat got banners, so that works both ways, except he did all the sacrificing. And he was the poster boy for Miami Heat loyalty. I just think the whole thing has a bad look.
Jason: Moving on from Dwyane Wade may not be the WORST thing in the world, but the way the whole situation played out was ugly. There was clearly some acrimony during the contract negotiations, and you wonder if that may hurt the franchise down the road. I’m guessing not much, but this still was an ugly situation that likely could’ve been avoided.
3. Offseason grade
David: There are many ways of looking at this, both positively and negatively. As the former, Wade’s absence means Goran Dragic will likely run the team at a faster pace, which maximizes the skills of Whiteside and the rest of the team’s young roster. With Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, the team has a versatile and athletic nucleus that can help Miami maintain their winning ways. Or…without Wade to commandeer the ship, everything falls apart quickly and a roster of unproven players and veterans on expiring deals simply fail to mesh. Because of Wade’s far-reaching impact, this is more than just what happens on the hardwood. The Heat front office gets a D.
Nekias: All things considered, I’ll give Miami a B-. After losing Wade, Miami pivoted nicely by retaining Tyler Johnson and adding other young(er) talent on short-term deals. If Bosh is able to return, Miami will be juuust fine.
Kelly: C. There’s nothing really spectacular here. The Heat lost Wade and Deng. There’s no question they got worse. But with Chris Bosh’s health, they have a pretty uncertain future. So keeping flexibility seemed to be the best strategy in a vacuum. Just screwing the best player in franchise history to do it means it wasn’t in a vacuum.
Jason: Re-signing Hassan Whiteside was good and the Heat added some decent players on the cheap, but the ugly D-Wade situation drags this grade down and the team is likely worse. Miami gets a C.
4. Early prediction for 2016-17
David: Much of this team’s success will depend on Chris Bosh’s ability to return to full strength. With his return, the argument could be made that Miami adds one of the top players in the league, an underrated defender that guards multiple positions and an incredible scorer that does some of his best work along the perimeter. Bosh makes this team one of the best in Eastern Conference and my prediction (or maybe my wish) is that he comes back at full strength and guides this team to a deep playoff run.
Nekias: Like just about everything concerning the Heat this year, this will depend on the status of Chris Bosh. If Bosh is and stays healthy, Miami winning 45 or more games isn’t out of the question. Without Bosh, 30-35 wins is more of their range.
Kelly: 38-40 wins? A lot depends on if/how much Bosh plays. They’re putting a lot of stock in their wings developing a lot from one year to the next. But if they don’t pan out, the Heat are going to struggle to score. They could win 45 or 30. A lot of uncertainty here. I’ll go somewhere in the middle.
Jason: As mentioned by everybody else, a lot hinges on Chris Bosh. He’s a perennial All-Star when healthy and is still an impact player, and his presence would likely take the Heat from a non-playoff team to a lower playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. So this really is hard to call without knowing what the deal is with him.