Miami Heat: How Will The 2015-16 Roster Look Next Season? - Heat Nation
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Miami Heat: How Will The 2015-16 Roster Look Next Season?

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After concluding their 2014-15 season with both a losing record and a non-playoff appearance, one would expect the Miami Heat roster to look a lot different next season.

We’re six months away from the beginning of the 2015-16 season, but it can’t come soon enough for Heat Nation. This past year was easily the most disappointing season for the franchise since the defending NBA Champion 2006-07 Heat were swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the fifth-seeded Chicago Bulls.

Expectations were reasonably high even after LeBron James bolted during the 2014 offseason. Other than a 3-0 start to the season, Miami was abysmal for the most part. Injuries, player turnover and a number of other factors contributed to the Heat’s demise.

Pat Riley and the organization will make it their mission to ensure that the franchise doesn’t go through another season like this any time soon.

Riley stressed during his final press conference of the season that the Heat expect a championship next year:

 “I challenge myself more than anybody else to make sure what happened this year doesn’t happen again. Every single year, regardless of what the team looks like we always come to win a championship.”

While franchise pieces such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be back for another year in the red and black, there are question marks all throughout the roster regarding who will be back and who will be sent packing before the start of next season.

Let’s take a look at a few guys who are “on the fence.” The names that pop up the most are the following — Goran Dragic, Luol Deng, Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers and Josh McRoberts.

Luol Deng of the Miami Heat

“As far as Deng is concerned, if he decides to exercise his player option worth a little over $10.1 million, that further puts the Heat in a deeper hole in regards to depth.”

Both Dragic and Deng possess player options for next season, while Andersen, Chalmers and McRoberts all remain under contract for the ’15-16 year.

Dragic has already announced his intentions of declining his player option to enter free agency this offseason, while Deng remains a question mark in general.

While it’s understandable to debate whether or not Dragic and Deng will be back in Heat uniforms next year, why bring up Andersen, Chalmers and McRoberts?

Simple—all three of them are expendable. This trio of players have contracts that can be moved for draft picks or younger players.

Andersen is 37 years old and is due to earn $5 million next season. The Heat have to decide whether or not it’s worth it to retain an aging center for that much money when the team isn’t the clear championship contender it once was. When you know for sure you’re going to be playing in the NBA Finals every year, it’s OK to pay a high-energy player like Andersen that kind of dough.

When you’re sort of in reloading mode and you’re trying to move into a new era, guys like “Birdman” just don’t fit into the equation any more.

Chalmers is due $4.3 million in the coming year and what you see is what you get. ‘Rio has been in the league for seven years now and he’s not the point guard of the future, nor is he the point guard of the present.

McRoberts is a tough one because he only played one month of basketball this past season. While his versatility can be utilized, he can be dangled as a legit trade piece for maybe a few rotation players. He earns $5.5 million next year and has two years left on his contract after that.

To put things into perspective, there will be a “domino effect” when it comes to the situations of these players.

What this means is, say for example Dragic gets re-signed by the Heat. Some sources claim that Miami might just hand him a max deal, which would put the franchise on a short leash when it comes to spending money over the next several seasons.

If that is the case, the Heat would then have 11 players under contract for next season (including Wade, who technically has a player option for ’15-16).

Miami would then have to consider unloading some contracts for the sake of clearing cap space. This is where veterans such as Chalmers and Andersen come into play. Both have expiring contracts after the coming season.

As far as Deng is concerned, if he decides to exercise his player option worth a little over $10.1 million, that further puts the Heat in a deeper hole in regards to depth. Miami would have next-to-no chance of signing any worthwhile free agents to bolster the bench.

Related: 5 Free Agents Who Could Bolster the Miami Heat’s Depth

In this scenario, the Heat would have one of the best starting fives in the NBA with Hassan Whiteside, Bosh, Deng, Wade and Dragic.

However, they would have no bench. What they’d have to hope for is McRoberts remaining healthy and for Chalmers to carry much of the scoring load while guys like James Ennis, Tyler Johnson and Shabazz Napier continue to make strides in their development as professional basketball players.

While it is a definite possibility that happens, the Heat would be entering the ’15-16 season with essentially the same roster as it had the previous season when it went 37-45.

All in all, what it comes down to is what do the Heat want?

If they are OK with having roughly the same team as they had last season then it won’t be too much of an issue. Dragic has stated many times he’d love to be back in Miami and wants a fifth year on the deal for security purposes. If Deng decides he wants to be back in Miami, he’ll be welcomed back with open arms.

Having said that, unless moves are made with teams willing to take on contracts of such players like a Chalmers, Andersen or McRoberts, the ’15-16 Heat won’t look too much different from the ’14-15 Heat that missed the playoffs.

The one difference that the team will be hoping for in the coming season will be luck when it pertains to injuries.

Instead of player turnover and high-profile free agents in the offseason, the hope entering the ’15-16 season might be all in the matter of health and player development.

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