The Miami Heat managed to pull off some terrific moves prior the NBA deadline. Neatly addressing some of their issues and placing complementing pieces around culture setter Jimmy Butler.
Florida’s finest seem to be a side on the up, with exciting guard Tyler Herro and forward Bam Adebayo top prospects. The culture fit as always in Miami is key, with Butler seemingly finding his ‘forever home’ – finally discovering an intense winning-first mentality to match his own.
Of course, the Heat are not the only NBA team to have a famed culture. Gregg Popovich, over the last 24 years, has transformed the franchise in his own image, orchestrating superb team-first basketball from the side-lines while winning five-NBA titles. However, having failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and unfavoured in NBA betting on bet365 to make the playoffs again next season, Popovich could be eyeing a clear out.
This could reportedly begin with the departure of DeMar DeRozan. According to CNBC journalist Jabari Young, Miami attempted to prise DeRozan away from San Antonio before the trade deadline shut.
Speaking on the possibility of a deal, Young said: “During the trade deadline, I was hearing Miami was making a push for DeMar DeRozan,” Young said. “He is close to Jimmy Butler. Would that be a fit?”
DeRozan possesses a $27.7m player option in his contract for the 2020/21 season, so he could realistically decline to join his friend in Florida. Alternatively, the former Toronto Raptors star could consent to a sign-and-trade deal to guarantee the Spurs something in return.
Spending nine seasons in Canada with Toronto, ending many campaigns with disappointing playoff exits, the Raptors finally made a breakthrough and won their first NBA title the season after DeRozan left.
It is quite possible the mid-range master saw this and thought his time in the NBA Finals limelight will never come. But with Miami sniffing around, a team on the rise, he may be eager to jump the Spurs ship.
San Antonio could be in for another tough rebuilding season, in fact the last time the Spurs last failed to make the playoffs in 1997, stars such as Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum had not even been born. It seems there is a long road ahead for the Spurs.
But they do have assets, with a 2020 Draft lottery pick, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson. With some clever dealing, the Spurs could get a lot better quite quickly but it depends if the organization wants to go down the development or trade route. A happy medium could be the answer.
Whatever the fate of DeRozan, San Antonio need to look to offload costly veterans as the whole project needs new life blooded into it. LaMarcus Aldridge is 35 years old, over the hill and will make an incredible $24m next season. Meanwhile, Rudy Gay and Patrick Mills are in line for a combined $28m. The wage bill needs shedding if the Spurs are to bounce back from a disappointing season