Exploring how much the Miami Heat should be willing to pay Duncan Robinson in restricted free agency

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The Miami Heat have a major decision to make this offseason regarding Duncan Robinson.

Robinson, who has blossomed into one of the game’s best 3-point shooters, is set to become a restricted free agent if Miami extends him a qualifying offer worth just north of $4.7 million.

Miami will want to extend the offer, as it will allow the Heat to match any offer sheet Robinson signs in free agency, but just how much should they be willing to pay Robinson?

There is no doubt that Robinson is a valuable part of Miami’s success because of his ability to stretch the floor, but he has his limitations as a defender (-1.0 defensive box plus/minus in the 2019-20 season and -0.9 defensive box plus/minus in the 2020-21 season).

While Robinson isn’t a horrible defender, it’s clear that the Heat have better options down the stretch of games when they need stops. In addition, Robinson provides very little offensively in terms of playmaking or off-the-dribble ability, so the decision on his contract comes down to whether or not the Heat can survive without his shooting.

After Tyler Herro took a slight step back in the 2020-21 season, the Heat relied on Robinson (40.8 percent from 3 this past season) even more.

Obviously, the rest of Miami’s offseason will factor into the decision on Robinson.

Will the Heat decline Goran Dragic’s $19.44 million team option? The same question can be asked of Andre Iguodala’s $15.0 million option.

With those guys both off the books (and off the roster), the Heat certainly would have more flexibility to pay Robinson. In fact, one could argue Miami should do so in order to keep Robinson on the roster.

Victor Oladipo also comes into play in this scenario, but with his recovery looking like it could cut into the 2021-22 season, the Heat may be better off taking a wait-and-see approach and making sure that they bring back Robinson if that’s in their plans.

Robinson’s value is tricky, but there are several players in the league that he can be compared to.

For example, Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris, who led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage this season at 47.5 percent, agreed to a four-year, $75 million contract with the Nets that began this season.

Harris may be a better shooter than Robinson, but their numbers are eerily similar.

Harris: 14.1 points per game, 3.6 rebounds per game, 1.9 assists per game, 47.5 percent from 3, -1.5 DPBM
Robinson: 13.1 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game, 1.8 assists per game, 40.8 percent from 3, -0.9 DPBM

Harris was a better shooter in the 2020-21 campaign, but Robinson was a better defender last season. Both players actually averaged more points per game during the 2019-20 season, but Harris raised his 3-point percentage by 5.1 percent this year.

For Miami, it has to expect this kind of offer from a team to Robinson in free agency.

The 3-pointer is king in today’s NBA, and few players can knock them down as efficiently as Robinson.

If we look at contracts for similarly valued shooters to Robinson over the past year, it’s more than just Harris that falls in the four-year, $60-$80 million range.

Comparable players that signed contracts in 2020 offseason

Joe Harris Brooklyn Nets
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Bogdan Bogdanovic: Four years, $72 million
Joe Harris: Four years, $75 million
Marcus Morris: Four years, $64 million
Danilo Gallinari: Three years, $61.5 million
Jordan Clarkson: Four years, $52 million
Malik Beasley: Four years, $60 million

Looking at this list, Clarkson ended up being the best value, as he won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year for the 2020-21 season.

He and Beasley certainly handle the ball more than Robinson, so it’s even more surprising that they were paid on the lower end this past offseason.

When you look back at these deals, four of these players shot over 40.0 percent from 3 last during the 2020-21 campaign (Morris, Harris, Gallinari, Bogdanovic), and Beasely shot 39.9 percent from 3 and averaged 19.6 points per game.

Robinson falls right into this category, as he averaged comparable points per game to Morris, Harris and Gallinari while also shooting over 40.0 percent from deep.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on an appearance on “NBA Countdown” back in May that Robinson could fall in the $15 to $20 million per year range.

“This could be a $20 million a year player,” Wojnarowski said. “Remember, teams are going to put out an offer sheet out there that they hope that Miami won’t match. It’s going to be difficult to pry him from Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.”

When you take Wojnarowski’s report and last year’s contracts, it’s hard to argue that Robinson will fall in that range.

If Miami truly values his shooting, the decision is easy. If the Heat are unwilling to commit nearly $20 million per season for a knockdown shooter, then they are better off exploring a sign-and-trade scenario to still salvage some value from Robinson’s potential departure.

There is a market for players like Robinson that has been set. Unfortunately for Miami, that means the team can only truly justify an overpay once the contract offer creeps above $20 million per season.

It’s a steep price to pay, but it certainly would become much more palatable with Dragic and/or Iguodala off the books heading into next season.

Miami can hope that all it takes is a payday like Clarkson’s, but the Heat should be setting their sights in the Harris or Bogdanovic range if it wants to keep Robinson in Miami for the foreseeable future.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.