Top Veteran Free Agent Targets: Miami Heat
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Max Cap Space: -$23,931328
Projected Cap Space: -$36,006,473
With Dwyane Wade’s last dance in the books and Udonis Haslem seriously pondering retirement, the Miami Heat could be left dry in the veterans department coming into the 2019-20 season. And for a team that is expected to have at least eight players that are 25 years old or younger, they desperately need a veteran presence around all of these young guys.
Of course, the Heat has no cap space – Miami is already over the 2020 projected luxury tax before free agency even begins – so good players who can still contribute on the court consistently are pretty much out of reach. Instead, let’s take a look at five players the Miami Heat can realistically sign for the veteran’s minimum.
Making a career out of setting deadly screens, scoring in the paint, and protecting the rim, Gortat’s best days are well behind him. He can still play, and he’ll probably be one of the league veterans on highest demand, but I doubt any team is willing to offer him any long-term deal worth considerably more than the veteran’s minimum contract. The 35-year old would ideally come in to mentor our young big men, particularly Bam Adebayo, and could still get some minutes if injuries once again get the best out of the Heat. He was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers over four months ago and nobody has picked him up ever since, so Miami could realistically offer him a roster spot assuming he’s not thinking about retirement yet. At this point in his career, Gortat no longer wants to play heavy minutes or get fat contracts. The Miami Heat is as good of an organization to come in as a veteran, mentor the youngsters, and embrace the culture.
One of the best ball-handlers to ever step foot on an NBA court, the 39-year old spent last season with the Phoenix Suns and was still able to put up some nice numbers. That was probably more out of necessity than by design. But if you’ve seen his Drew League clips, you know Crawford can still get buckets. Having already played for Phoenix on a minimum deal, there’s no reason to think J-Crossover wouldn’t want to come to Miami if he’s received with open arms. He would get a chance to work with fellow guards Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and rookie Tyler Herro to help further develop their game. With 19 seasons already under his belt, Crawford should be pondering retirement. But if he wants to come back for one more season, Miami is a nice place to end his illustrious career.
For the past 11 seasons, Tolliver has been a solid three-point shooting role player who has given his teams some consistent production. At 34 years of age, he could still get some offers from teams with a desperate shooting need (cough, Heat, cough), but his intentions for next season still remain unclear. While Tolliver wouldn’t average anything close to the 16.6 minutes per game he did for the Minnesota Timberwolves last year, he could sub in whenever Miami needs some shooting and is also a decent injury replacement candidate. As a journeyman who’s played for nine teams throughout his career, Tolliver wouldn’t mind moving to a new city and sharing a locker room with talented and exciting young teammates. If he’s still interested in having a modest role within a team’s rotation, then the Heat would probably not be that good of a fit, but that’s all still in the air.
A former Heat player for two seasons, Luol Deng left for greener pastures during the infamous 2016 free agency. Then again, you cannot blame him for taking a four-year, $72 million dollar offer from the Los Angeles Lakers. Deng is set to receive paychecks from L.A. until 2022, so he’s in no way desperate for another big contract. A Heat reunion makes sense, as Deng is very familiar with the organization and Heat culture. The two-time All-Star could serve as an occasional backup while playing the role of veteran locker room leader for the team. At 34 years old, Deng doesn’t have too much left in the tank and has probably played enough meaningful basketball in his career. So why not enjoy everything South Beach has to offer while he swims in his Lakers’ money pool?
Half-man, half-amazing has confirmed he will be back for at least one more season, which will be number 22 in his career. He has certainly played for a couple of elite organizations, and he could add the Miami Heat to that list. Carter has spent his last couple of seasons serving as a mentor for young players in teams like the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings, and bringing in somebody with as much experience as the eight-time All-Star has would be invaluable for the Heat’s young players. Judging by his ridiculous hops at 42 years of age, Carter still has some more highlight reel dunks in him. Imagine what a dunk contest between Carter and Derrick Jones Jr. at the Heat’s practice facility would be like! Fans would love to see another legend retire in a Heat jersey, and Vinsanity would love to continue passing down knowledge to some of the game’s top rising stars in Miami.