Hot again, can Heat find way to upgrade?

Pat Riley recently told Heat players he had ceased trade talks with the Timberwolves.

The Miami Heat are at it… again.

Coming off a season a year ago in which it was, well, awful, in the first half and electric in the second, Miami is trending upward this season, doing so much earlier in the schedule.

The Heat are expected to be among the teams to be active as the trade deadline, believing they could deal some of the high-priced guys they’ve re-signed in the past two offseasons — namely, Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters and James Johnson — though the reality of that transpiring remains to be seen.

In 2016-17, Miami was 11-30 through the first half of the season, then caught fire and went 30-11 in the second half to finish at the break-even mark, 41-41.

The Heat came out of the gate so-s0 but have seemed to finally found their groove, with coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad standing at 23-17 through their first 40 games, coming off a hard-fought 90-89 victory at Toronto on Tuesday night.

Meaning, Miami has gone 53-28 in its last 81 games — almost a full season — in the second half of last season and the first of this one. The Heat have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games and standing fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, trailing Boston, Toronto and Cleveland, which they trail by three games.

The cost of doing business is catching up on the Heat, though. Miami has the fourth-highest payroll in the NBA this season ($127,896,940), behind only Golden State, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, with six guys being paid more than $10 million this season and seven next season, when Johnson’s deal escalates from $5,821,260 this season to $19,245,370 in 2018-19.

Locked in with payrolls in luxury tax levels through the 2019-20 season, owing the Phoenix Suns two first-round draft choices stemming from the 2015 deal that landed point guard Goran Dragic and with their best outside shooter, Wayne Ellington, headed to unrestricted free agency at the end of this season, it’s made things complicated for the Heat.

Even with the terrific 30-11 finish last season, Miami missed out on the playoffs on a tiebreaker. After its sluggish start this season, the Heat have righted the ship at an earlier point this season.

However,  it remains to be seen if Heat honcho Pat Riley can find any takers for some of the high-priced contracts in an effort to upgrade the roster.

1 Comment on "Hot again, can Heat find way to upgrade?"

  1. thompson,shump,&cavs 18 pick for whiteside. saves Riley money in future and gives cavs rim protection.

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