Q: Heartbroken. Jae Crowder gave it all in the playoffs, left nothing out there. Best wishes to him. -- Denise.
A: In the end, Jae Crowder got what he wanted in terms of a long-term, guaranteed contract, which, at 30, is important. Plus, the Suns, while not championships contenders, certainly will be playoff contenders next season. Still, when you look at the math, the $14 million the Heat offered him for the coming season, plus the mid-level they could have offered next summer after landing a prime free agent, almost could have matched in two years what he is getting with his three-year, $30 million deal with Phoenix. Still, cash in hand matters, especially for a player who only received one significant contract prior to this free agency. Yes, the Heat will miss him. But the reality is he wasn’t viewed as the type of talent that trumps the possibilities out there in 2021 free agency.
Q: Where are the Heat going to play all these guys? Will there be enough playing time to continue to develop the younger players? It almost seems with a quick restart to the season that the first 20 to 25 games should be about player development? -- Stuart.
A: First, I’m not sure that in a 72-game season, in a competitive Eastern Conference that you can buy time by sitting out veterans for an extended period. As for your who-plays concerns, it is safe to assume that the Heat made clear with this group, as they did with last season’s group, that if you are not OK with possibly sitting, then don’t sign or re-sign here. Among those who potentially could get lost in the shuffle are Meyers Leonard, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, Maurice Harkless, and possibly developmental talents such as KZ Okpala. There also is no guarantee of minutes for Precious Achiuwa.
Q: Ira, who do you see starting this season, and who will be in the rotation? Do you think Kendrick Nunn gets squeezed out of the rotation with Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro and Avery Bradley? -- Joel.
A: It does seem that way. But it also could depend how often the Heat play small ball. If that is the case, and there is more three-guard approach, then there could be time for all. But it also could play out differently during the regular season than the playoffs, similar to last season. So minutes for Kendrick Nunn during the regular season could turn into additional minutes for Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley during the postseason.
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