The Miami Heat tried their hardest to clinch a playoff berth this season, but unfortunately, their late push was not enough to seal the deal. Entering the offseason, Pat Riley needs to be creative with a limited cap space to ensure his team is heading in the right direction.

Hard Decision Coming

Miami Heat beat writer Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel thinks to re-sign Dion Waiters and James Johnson, and at the same time, landing a big-time free agent like Paul Millsap would only be possible if one of these players agreed to a discounted contract.

Winderman believes Riley must think outside the box in order to maximize the Heat’s projected cap money of $37MM. Another option for the Heat GM is to finally buy out Chris Bosh’s humongous deal, which would free up to $25 million in additional cap money.

The Heat has several big name free agents on their radar this summer. Millsap, who averaged 18.8 points and 7.7 rebounds for the Atlanta Hawks this season, could provide the Heat stability at the power forward spot. His potential frontline pairing with Hassan Whiteside would be amazing to watch, as Millsap’s respectable outside shooting can create more room for the Heat big man to operate inside.

Keeping Waiters and Johnson in South Beach

There’s no secret that Pat Riley wants to improve the caliber of its roster by signing established stars.

On the other hand, he also places a high value on players who outperformed their contracts during this season.

Waiters, who signed to a 2-year, $5.8 million deal with player’s option for 2017-18 season, had his best statistical season in his 4-year NBA career as he averaged 15,8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.

The former 4th overall pick was one of the primary reasons why the Heat had a shot at a playoff spot until the last day of the regular-season. Unfortunately, an ankle injury prevented him from playing the last four weeks.

Johnson, meanwhile, put up 12.8 points and 4.9 rebounds a game this season. In just his first year with the team, he has become a strong locker room presence for the Heat’s young players, making him a very valuable cog on that roster.

Melo Exploration

In a separate post, Winderman also speculated on the possibility of adding Carmelo Anthony via trade. Riley pursued Melo when he became a free-agent three years ago, and it won’t be surprising if he pulled off a gambit on the former scoring champ. Then again, Riley would need to resolve the contract situation with Bosh before they make any pitch for the star.