After their loss in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat went star chasing.  Ultimately, they went 0 for the field, as they were unable to make deals for Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell.  Their efforts to sign T.J. Warren to blunt the impact of P.J. Tucker’s absence also came up empty.  As a result, this year’s Heat will look very similar to last season’s.  Preview over. Just kidding.  There are still questions hanging over the existing roster, including what the Heat will do at the four, and whether or not Tyler Herro suits up as a starter.  On a more intriguing front, there’s the ever-present possibility of a trade occurring at some point to shore up their frontcourt weakness.  If we don’t see Herro sign a contract extension in the next few weeks, there’s potential for him to be used in a deal before the deadline.

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Patrick James Riley is 76 years old and no less competitive than he was pacing the sidelines for the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat. He certainly wants to win another championship before he retires. Riley and Butler made sure the long-held expectation that Kyle Lowry would join the Miami Heat this offseason held firm. However, the Heat were forced to part ways with Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic—the apparently unpaid model for Big Face Coffee—in the sign-and-trade that brought Lowry to Biscayne Bay. The Heat are hoping Lowry’s three-point shooting, playmaking, and toughness imbue the team with new life and help them recapture some of the bubble magic that escaped them last season. Everything starts with their three stars— Butler, Lowry, and Bam Adebayo—and they need those players to remain healthy if they want to reach their full potential and secure a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat will be leaning heavily on their player development this season. Players like Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, KZ Okpala, and Omer Yurtseven could be more central to the Heat’s success than anyone outside the organization ever expected.

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Lots of question marks around Miami’s reload in the Eastern conference this year.  Their unraveled depth and #HeatCulture rose them through the gauntlets of the Eastern Conference bubble to rise from the 5th seed to Eastern Conference Champs.  Their core is fired up, focused, and gaining continuity.  I see seven solid rotation players.  This year, with the losses of Goran “Dragon” Dragic (16/3/5 in 28 minutes), Jae Crowder (10/6/2.8 in 29 minutes), and Derrick “Air Plane Mode” Jones Jr. (8/4/1 in 23 minutes) it remains to be seen how Riley and Spoelstra work their magic to fill out this roster.

Those three rotation players have left with a total of 34 points per game.  How will end-of-bench role players step up with their new opportunities?  Why was Udonis Haslem’s contract extended? Does Iguodala have anything left in the tank to earn the two-year, $20 million extension he got?  So many questions surround the depth and bench this year.  With only 10 guaranteed players under contract, how will management round out this roster?

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Back when Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh were in town, long before the Vice City uniforms and the jersey-swap retirement tour, four iterations of dynastic “Heatles” teams dominated the league and our collective sports consciousness. It was a glorious time. For Miami. For the NBA. For every sports media outlet in existence. Since then, a tidal wave of viral events have swept over the NBA—LeBron James’ homecoming and championship in Cleveland chief among them.

The Heat enter the 2019-20 season with the most buzz since their four-year run of NBA Finals trips. Jimmy Butler has arrived, all of his brashness and baggage in tow. Tyler Herro is set to become the new white-baller-du-jour, though he may have some unexpected competition from Alex Caruso. And the #PointWinslow movement is on the verge of boiling over its sweat and blood-stained cauldron. Let the new post-Bron, post-Wade, cautiously optimistic about Jimmy Butler era of Miami Heat basketball begin.

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