Dan Le Batard dropped a few nuggets during the local hour of his radio show on 790 the Ticket on Monday that will surely boost Miami Heat fans’ spirits after yesterday’s ousting from the NBA Playoffs.
Despite ESPN coworker Brian Windhorst reporting there is a fear within the Heat organization that Chris Bosh will end up retiring, Le Batard said he received a text from a team source saying Bosh “should be able to play next season.”
[Update: Le Batard doubled down today, saying the team feels “somewhere between hopeful and optimistic” and that “time is something that will allow this to be manageable.”]
He also confirmed that Kevin Durant remains the top priority in Miami’s offseason plans.
“All I’m telling you is priority number one is not get Dwyane locked up, Whiteside locked up — number one on the list is can you get the superstar (Durant) that is the big get in free agency while also taking care of your people around that?” Le Batard said. “The last two seasons what you’ve experienced is building towards that with makeshift parts, with bandages, with salary cap caulk, fix-a-flat…”
In March, Le Batard also reported of Miami’s interest in the seven-time All-Star, saying the team doesn’t think Durant is a pipe dream.
Miami has loads of cap space this summer — in the neighborhood of $40 million — but they won’t be able to afford maxing Durant and Whiteside while also taking care of Wade, especially after the latter’s sensational postseason performance, under the team’s current roster structure.
Whether Bosh retires or not, his contract would not come off the books until at least next February, so it wouldn’t directly factor in Miami’s offseason, though his questionable future could make pursuing elite free agents like Durant more complicated.
What will be appealing to free agents is Miami’s dynamic, young talent on the perimeter in Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and Tyler Johnson* — all under contract on the cheap (edit: Johnson is restricted but the Heat can match).
It would still be surprising to see Durant leave OKC this summer after what’s been a fantastic playoff run. Whether they beat the defending champion Warriors or not, the more likely scenario is re-signing with the Thunder for at least one season (Russell Westbrook is a free agent next summer), and reopening his options in the summer of 2017.
Miami’s most feasible offseason is re-signing Wade and Whiteside, while also bringing back Luol Deng or Joe Johnson. The question is whether that would be enough considering Bosh’s future remains cloudy. Miami could also look to move Josh McRoberts (due $5.8 million next year) or Goran Dragic ($15.9 million) for more cap freedom, though trading the latter would be unsettling considering Wade isn’t getting any younger.
Miami’s best shot at significantly improving this offseason could hinge on the development of its standout rookies in Richardson and Winslow. Still, never doubt Miami’s appeal as a free-agent destination and Riley’s ability to lure a big name.