Heat Notes: Herro, Adebayo, Draft Picks, Okpala

After averaging 16.0 PPG and making 37.5% of his three-point attempts during last year’s playoff run as a rookie, Heat guard Tyler Herro didn’t take a major step forward statistically in 2020/21. The 21-year-old recorded 15.1 PPG with a .360 3PT% during the regular season and struggled in the postseason (9.3 PPG, .316 FG%).

However, president of basketball operations Pat Riley said multiple times during his end-of-season presser on Thursday that Herro is still a “core player for the Heat, expressing confidence that the second-year guard will continue to make positive strides going forward, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.

“What happened to him going down the stretch, I actually thought he got better as a player,” Riley said. “If you think about his first year or his first 35 or 40 games, he really was strictly a catch-and-shoot type of player coming off of screens and catching and shooting. The only way that he was ever going to become a complete offensive player is he had to improve his ball-handling with both his right hand and his left hand, and he did. He’s an exceptional ball-handler. Now he can create space and get into gaps and raise on jumpers from almost anywhere.”

Given the Heat’s lack of moveable future draft picks, Herro would be the team’s most appealing trade chip if the front office tried to take a big swing for another impact player this offseason. But Riley’s comments on Thursday suggest Herro remains very much a part of Miami’s “core.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Riley said on Thursday that during last fall’s extension talks with Bam Adebayo, the Heat broached the subject of putting off the big man’s new contract until this year in order to maximize the team’s 2021 cap room. However, Adebayo preferred to sign his extension immediately and the Heat were fine with that, as Jackson relays.
  • Riley hasn’t had any discussions with the Thunder about removing the protections on the 2023 first-round pick Miami owes Oklahoma City, according to Jackson. Making that pick unprotected would allow the Heat to trade their 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, if they so choose, giving them more flexibility in trade talks. However, the Thunder likely won’t do the Heat a favor without receiving compensation — in a similar situation last offseason, the Bucks had to send the Cavaliers a 2025 second-round pick in order to remove the protections on the 2022 first-rounder Milwaukee owed to Cleveland. That allowed the Bucks to free up other future first-rounders for the Jrue Holiday trade.
  • This summer will be a critical one for KZ Okpala, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Okapala was the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 draft, but has yet to develop into a reliable rotation player for Miami and will be entering the final season of his three-year contract. “It’s a blessing that I do have a full offseason with Summer League and all that,” Okpala said. “So I accept my blessing, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”