A year removed from being the 1-seed in the East and falling one game short of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat have not been able to replicate that success. After an offseason that saw them make no major additions and lose PJ Tucker, they have scuffled to an 11-14 start, which currently has them 11th in the East.
It is a team that does not have a great deal of depth and with Jimmy Butler missing 10 games and Tyler Herro missing eight, the issues of roster construction have been particularly noticeable. After getting smoked by the Pistons on Tuesday night in a 116-96 loss (again, without Butler), the TNT crew discussed Miami’s future and Charles Barkley very bluntly suggested it’s time to blow it up and start over.
“It might be time to break the team up and start over,” Barkley said. “They got some contracts that’s gonna be, like, they’re no good. So they need to start over. That’s my personal opinion. It’s like, hey, trade some of these guys to contenders or teams that get us some young guys and start over.”
Shaq agreed with the assessment of some of the contracts on the roster, noting they’ll be “hard to get rid of.” The contract that stands out, of course, is Duncan Robinson’s, as he is in the second year of a 5-year, $90 million extension that has looked like one of the worst deals in the league. Beyond Robinson, Kyle Lowry has another year left on his 3-year, $90 million deal signed in 2021 and he has seen a dropoff from his All-Star caliber play in Toronto, averaging 14.4 points and 6.0 assists per game this season after some playoff struggles a year ago.
Miami has never been a team willing to tank and has always rewarded its own guys with big extensions, for better or worse (see: Tyler Johnson), so I doubt Pat Riley is going to take Chuck’s words to heart. That said, it does seem fairly clear this is not a contender as currently constructed, even if they can get Bam Adebayo, Butler, and Herro all on the floor together. The question is, what can they do to amplify that core group without much in the way of intriguing talent to move off of, but it’d be fairly surprising if they aren’t at least active in exploring what the trade market has to offer when trade season starts in earnest on December 15.