Nuclear Option: It’s Time to Blow This Miami Heat Team Up

Commentary

It’s not working.

Believe me, I’m not some alarmist. If anything, I’ve been nothing but an apologist for the current Miami Heat roster and front office. But even I, an unrepentant homer, can recognize when the makeup of my favorite team has run its course.

This isn’t an apocalyptic column claiming that the Heat are stuck in some dystopian cycle of failure with no hope of recovering. I’m not even saying that the Heat are a terrible basketball team and won’t make the playoffs. They probably will make the postseason, and they will most likely go on a couple of impressive runs this year.

But to what end?

No, seriously, what’s the end game? We know what this team is, and it isn’t a champion. It isn’t even a young up-and-coming team on the rise. If this was some rag tag group of 22- and 23-year olds, scrapping for a playoff spot, that would be one thing. But this is a hodgepodge of veterans, journeymen, and unproven youngsters that seems to be riding a rollercoaster to nowhere.

Even the young players that we’ve all had so much hope for aren’t even playing together. As pointed out by Nekias Duncan in his weekly “The Launching Pad” column for MiamiHeatBeat.com, the group of Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and Bam Adebayo are only sharing the floor for nine minutes per game. That’s inexcusable! Failure would be a lot more palatable if it resulted in growth. Right now, the Heat are failing in a hamster wheel.

I wrote a column calling this team boring, but the reality may be worse. This team is lost, rudderless, and for the first time in a long time, lacking a cohesive vision of the future. At least a vision that has been presented to the fanbase that we can latch onto. Even during the down, despondent tank years of the Philadelphia 76ers, the organization marketed a “Process” that would return the team to glory. Say what you will about the actual process – dumb luck or careful planning – the fan base had a mantra to stand behind.

But what do Heat fans have? 30-11 seems like ages ago, and we are watching as some of these deals that were billed as “tradeable” have become anchors around the franchise’s neck. Adding a superstar the likes of John Wall or Bradley Beal are exercises in futility when you have extremely limited cap flexibility in the next few off-seasons.

I am on record as being in favor of a Jimmy Butler trade. But that was when the trade involved a third team willing to take on a bad contract. The kind of deal that would allow for adding a second superstar this summer through free agency. Adding Butler to this current roster while losing valuable rotation players and a draft pick does very little to improve the team’s current situation and championship prospects.

So what’s the answer? Fire Pat Riley? Grow up. That’s not happening. Fire Erik Spoelstra? Do so and he will have another job in the time it takes Tyler Johnson to lose another tooth. These aren’t solutions. These are cop outs suggested by a frustrated fan base. I get it, but let’s be realistic. There’s only one way to fix it.

It’s time to go nuclear.

Blow. It. Up.

I am not saying tank. You can shove that tanking stuff all the way up you-know-where. This franchise will never lose on purpose. There are too many prideful guys on that court, on that bench, in that locker room, and in that front office to do so. But it’s time to strategically clear the slate to become a viable player in free agency again. Yes, it’s time to go back whale hunting, but with an actual spear. It’s time to re-arm Riley with the weapons of flexibility and the allure of Miami.

The goal should be to clear the decks for the summer of 2020. Anyone with a contract past that deadline? Gone. Make everyone available. You want an asset? You have to take an anchor with it. Just as Riley did from 2008-2010, set this franchise up to be significant players again. And if you remember, those Heat teams didn’t lose, they made the playoffs and even provided us with some historic Dwyane Wade playoff performances and a seven-game first-round series. But we didn’t get attached to those rosters. We knew what it was. We knew there was a plan.

And that’s what this fan base and this franchise needs again. A clear plan. A clear goal. It makes being embarrassed by LeBron James Sunday night on that beautiful Vice Nights court easier to swallow. It makes Wade’s One Last Dance a little more fun. And it makes watching Spoelstra struggle with a cobbled-together roster a little more heroic.

It makes it easier to be a fan again.

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