Limited Options for Heat as Post-Wade Era Begins

The Heat could have a tough time replacing Dwyane Wade in a thin free agent market

The Miami Heat know they will be without Dwyane Wade and the question now becomes who will take his place.

Wade agreed to a two-year contract with the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday evening which quickly sent Miami on a new path. The Heat have missed on attempts to sign Kevin Durant and now Dwyane Wade. With several free agents off the board, Miami has limited options available to it, despite having money to spend.

The Heat could still match an offer sheet that Tyler Johnson signed with the Brooklyn Nets, but it remains to be seen if the team wishes to lock up future cap space. The offer sheet signed by Johnson includes the infamous "poison pill" which would handcuff Miami in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. Johnson would likely slide into the starting lineup if he returns to Miami.

Had the Heat known that Wade would bolt to Chicago, they may have tried to keep Luol Deng. With the possibility that Wade would return, Miami was unable to commit the kind of money that Deng found in Los Angeles with the Lakers. The Heat were also still hopeful they could land Durant at the time that Deng departed.

Other options such as Joe Johnson also elected to sign elsewhere and may have otherwise now been a target for the Heat. Johnson was productive in his brief time with Miami and would have likely had an even bigger role on next year's team, but signed with the Utah Jazz instead.

Miami could instead look to sign numerous one-year deals and go into next off-season with a larger amount of money available. If the Heat go this route, it could result in a losing season especially if Chris Bosh is unable to play. The veteran has remained mum on his condition and status after missing the second half of last season.

Next year's free agent class could include the likes of Durant, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry. All will have the ability to become freely available and are expected to do so. It is unknown if any of the players would have interest in relocating to Miami. The Heat undoubtedly want to have the money available however to keep that chance alive.

The Heat at this time have a starting lineup that includes Bosh, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Justise Winslow could see an increase in his usage and Josh Richardson could as well. The pair of rookies played a key role in Miami's rotation last year and one or both could be looking at a starting gig going forward.

Team president Pat Riley also is a question mark himself now that his franchise player has left. Riley who is 71 has mentioned retirement in the past and may be against the prospect of a rebuilding project at this juncture.

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