Micky Arison Hints at Possible Return of Two Key Heat Players

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With the Miami Heat reluctantly starting their offseason, the need to address some pending free-agency issues is something that will ultimately be the decision of team owner Micky Arison. If social media is any barometer, the chances of two of the team’s free agents, Dion Waiters and James Johnson, being back next year are strong.

Arison used his Instagram account late Friday night to post this Easter-themed message, with Waiters and Johnson being prominently featured:

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The @miamiheat future looks very bright

A post shared by Micky Arison (@mickyarison) on

The Heat finished strong, but their slow start ultimately cost them a playoff berth. That surge toward the end likely would have made them a dangerous team to face, with both Waiters and Johnson playing key roles in the team’s success.

Waiters signed a two-year, $5.9 million deal last summer, earning $2.9 million this past season. However, the second year is a player option and after averaging 15.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds for Miami, he’s expected to opt out of the contract that would pay him $3 million next season.

Johnson signed a one-year, $4 million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent. The 30-year-old forward averaged 12.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists for the Heat in 76 games. In five of those games, he was a member of the starting lineup.

Prior to the team’s ill-fated run, the Heat were looking at a rebuilding project, but those plans appear to have changed. Arison and team president Pat Riley hope to be in the mix for a number of free agents when that process begins on July 1.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for HeatNation.com, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.