The Heat were good. They weren’t great. Hence, the challenge of the offseason is clear: The Heat have to not only find ways to improve, but will have to find some creative ways to make it happen. They don’t have a pile of salary-cap space to play with, they don’t have any picks in this year’s draft and they know that fellow Eastern Conference clubs like the 76ers — who needed five games to oust Miami from the playoffs — might only get better.
“We gave everything we have,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “We have to be OK with that.” And with that, there is Question No. 1 of the offseason: Does Wade have any more to give?
Haslem barely plays and insists that he still can help on the floor, but the Heat want him back to help provide locker-room leadership that teammates and coaches insist is necessary. The Heat dealt with injuries and inconsistency all season, yet still got back to the playoffs and won the Southeast Division. Miami believes it has a core that can be better next season, and it’s clear that a total rebuild isn’t in the cards for Pat Riley and the Heat front office.
Here’s five non-Wade-related topics to ponder going into the Heat offseason: WHITESIDE DILEMMA C Hassan Whiteside wants a bigger role, and it may be time for a trade.
Moving him will not be easy, since Whiteside is owed about $25.5 million for next season and has a $27 million player option for 2019-20. There are selling points — he’s one of eight players in NBA history to be both a rebounding champion and a blocked-shot champion. But there are also injury and attitude questions, and those will hinder any trade talks Miami has.
Josh Richardson (shoulder) and Goran Dragic (knee) were also ailing in the playoffs, and G-F Rodney McGruder — a key part of Miami’s plan for the season — missed most of the year with a stress fracture in his leg. Plus, it’s unclear if G Dion Waiters (ankle surgery) will be ready for camp after getting shut down midway through this season.
ELLINGTON WATCH Free-agent-to-be Wayne Ellington wants to stay and the Heat want the same, especially after he set the franchise record with 227 3-pointers this season.
MAKE OR MISS It’s part of the Heat culture that defense must be the priority, and this season was no different. The Heat gave up the fourth fewest points in the NBA, with opponents averaging 102.9 per game. But the Heat offense could apparently use a boost. Miami was 15th this season in 2point percentage, 16th in 3-point percentage and 22nd in free throw percentage.
DEFEND HOME If the Heat are going to be better next season, they’ve got to be better at home. Including playoffs, Miami was 26-17 at American Airlines Arena this season — that .605 winning percentage just 19th-best out of the franchise’s 30 years of play.