The Miami Heat’s rebuilding timeline has gotten much shorter after a surprising night at the 2015 NBA Draft.
Justise Winslow — a versatile, 6’6″ wing from Duke — fell to the Heat at No. 10, a considerable drop considering most of the NBA world thought he’d be a top-seven pick.
With Winslow, the Heat get a prospect considered more NBA-ready than many other players in the draft, and a player who can fill the increasingly important “3 and D” role.
The pick also gives them an injection of youth for a team suddenly stocked with younger, developing players and players in their primes. Winslow could be a future centrepiece if the Heat also re-sign point guard Goran Dragic (29 years old) and retain breakout big man Hassan Whiteside over the next two years. The Heat also still have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both of whom struggled through injuries last year, but were effective when healthy.
Of course, the Wade situation is the big one to monitor. Wade reportedly wants to sign a long-term deal this offseason while the Heat want him to opt into his contract for the 2015-16 season and then re-sign him in the summer of 2016. There’s reportedly a difference in what the two sides want in money, with Wade asking for an average $US20 million a year and the Heat hoping he’ll take a paycut.
The Heat are in control here, however. What they want to pay Wade is probably around what his market value is. If Wade and his agent come around, they can stick with the team at a fair price. If he decides to leave, the Heat will have significant cap space for the huge summer of 2016, when the salary cap jumps to $US88 million, thanks to the start of the NBA’s new TV deal.
Though the Heat missed the playoffs last season, it was a somewhat tumultuous year as they dealt with the loss of LeBron James, injuries to Bosh and Wade, and a midseason trade for Dragic. Assuming Dragic and Wade are re-signed and Bosh is healthy, the Heat figure to be at least a middle-of-the-pack playoff team in a weak Eastern Conference.
In a few years, with the development of Winslow and Whiteside, plus their cap space (the Heat are angling for Kevin Durant in 2016), the Heat could have a remarkably quick turnaround into a contender.
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