NBA free agency: Heat re-signing Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard to two-year deals, per report

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The Miami Heat just made the NBA Finals, and now, it appears as though they’re getting the band back together. While the Heat theoretically could have created meaningful 2020 cap space, they have instead chosen to operate as an above-the-cap team and retain their own players. Goran Dragic was the first to announce that he would be returning to Miami, and Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported afterward that Meyers Leonard will be sticking around as well. According to Reynolds, the Heat are trying to keep Jae Crowder as well, but he has not yet made a decision. 

The terms of the deals shouldn’t surprise anyone. Dragic and Leonard will both receive hefty 2020-21 paydays: around $18 million for Dragic, and $9 million for Leonard. For those big immediate salaries, they have both agreed to team options for the 2021-22 season. Doing so was absolutely essential for Miami’s 2021 cap space ambitions. The Heat are expected to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo and other major free agents that hit the market after this season. Now, Dragic and Leonard won’t get in the way of that. 

In the meantime, those two hefty salaries could serve another purpose. The Heat now have enough expiring money to cobble together matching salary in a possible superstar trade. Leonard, Kelly Olynyk and Andre Iguodala make over $37 million combined. If the Heat wanted to make an offer for someone like James Harden or Bradley Beal during the season, for instance, it is now infinitely easier to do so. 

The Heat manage the cap better than almost every other team in the NBA. This is just another example of their brilliance in that area. They’ve managed to retain the bulk of last season’s NBA Finals team while somehow increasing their short- and long-term financial flexibility. Remarkable work from Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg. 


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