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Miami Heat cannot extend Jimmy Butler's contract

Let's just say it: The Heat cannot extend Jimmy Butler's contract because NBA convention requires it. They can't pay him $113 million for two extended years and keep him until he's 38.

They must trade him this offseason if possible or face the troubling consequences if he plays out the remaining two years of his current contract. Really, it should be open to all players except Bam Adebayo, considering that this blasé squad wasn't just a healthy Butler that beat Boston in those playoffs.

What's next?

How do you solve a mediocre squad?

One of team president Pat Riley's extreme makeovers seems to be in order for the Heat right now. The Butler decisions are like no other in this regard because of the money involved and because no other player has performed as well as he has for the Heat.

Dwyane Wade is the playing face of this franchise. But he also won titles alongside Hall of Famers like Shaquille O'Neal or LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Butler had a still-developing Adebayo at his side, who came just shy of the title. Don't refuse this service.

But Playoff Jimmy will be 35 next season, the Heat's season has been a pit of mediocrity, and the Heat haven't even seen if he can still reach those high playoff marks due to injury. Would you bet on him doing three years and $162 million on a contract that gets him in the door at age 38?

Want to catch up on Jimmy from the regular season? This Jimmy is one of the main reasons the Heat have even been a play-in team the last two years. He put up decent numbers. He also treated the regular season like a dentist appointment.

After three games of the season, he allowed himself a day of rest. The day after watching tennis for eight hours, he called in sick. A team marketing “Heat Culture” had to turn a blind eye to such antics with a rival team. Do they keep looking the other way when faced with a mediocre team?

So South Florida's two leading franchises will have to resolve thorny contract issues with their biggest names this summer. The Miami Dolphins could pick up quarterback Tua Tagovailoa on his fifth-year option given his health and good, if not great, play. All signs point to a new contract being signed soon where the details will reveal the great design.

The Heat also don't have to repeat Butler's deal. It could result in him playing at $110 million in the remaining two years. It will simply have to accept the consequences of not reaching a three-year, $162 million contract as NBA rules allow.

Jimmy would be unhappy. They've seen an unhappy Jimmy cause problems in Chicago, Minnesota and Philadelphia. Would they add Heat to the list?

The trade option could leave the team disappointed this spring. Phoenix had just been blown off the field by Minnesota. Would it trade Kevin Durant or, more likely, try to get rid of Bradley Beal's contract? Would Cleveland trade Donovan Mitchell if the playoffs go nowhere?

The Heat's task ahead is to find a trade option for Butler. You can't want to lead this team back again. They also can't lose Butler for so little money that they would have to step away for a year or two, like teams like the Marlins and Dolphins naturally do.

The Heat culture is about winning big every season and trusting that if you don't, you can do it next offseason. They have three titles that do this. They have also reached at least the conference finals in three of the last five years. They are the gold standard in South Florida.

But if we revisit the pages of Heat history, the end of this season in Boston resembles another five-game loss to the Celtics. That was 2010. Wade sat at his locker afterwards and said, “It won’t happen again.”

LeBron and Bosh were waiting in the wings.

There is no way to recreate this magic. However, there is a need to revamp another squad. It's hard to say where it ends, but it's clear where it begins, no matter how unpleasant it sounds: you can't extend Butler. They just can't do it.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler before his game against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Kaseya Center on Monday, November 6, 2023 in Miami. (John McCall/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

Anna Harden

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