Cavaliers: 3 Eastern Conference rivals who got worse this offseason

Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Cavaliers
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers and Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat. Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images /

The Miami Heat lost a lot this summer

The Miami Heat were the first team to start in the Play-In Tournament and reach the NBA Finals. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo had historic playoff heroics, although the Heat fell short in the NBA Finals to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

The hard-nosed, driven Heat culture played a substantial role in the team’s postseason success. Every player seemed to be perfectly coordinated with one another, working for the ultimate goal rather than individual prowess. Led by two stars in Butler and Adebayo, the immense depth across the board in Miami vaulted them to the top when it mattered the most.

Entering free agency, the Heat had two of the most coveted free agents on the market in Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. Although the Heat had the money to afford a new contract with one of the players, they were nearly guaranteed to lose one of them to a rival due to financial restrictions.

To Miami’s dismay, both Strus and Vincent joined new rosters, including Strus’ arrival in Cleveland after an early summer sign-and-trade.

The Heat signed veteran wing Josh Richardson and big man Thomas Bryant, but the majority of their summer was spent in trade limbo after Damian Lillard’s trade request from the Portland Trailblazers in July. As training camp approaches, Lillard remains in Portland and trade talks have seemingly plateaued.

Tyler Herro, who originally was one of Miami’s most beloved players, has found his name in nearly every Lillard trade rumor. The lack of interest in Herro has reportedly left him unhappy, creating another looming omen to start the Heat’s season.

With weaker depth and a roster fraught with uncertainty, Miami’s future could be much less exciting than last season. Even in the wake of an eventual Lillard trade, the Heat’s poor depth could be wiped away even further in order to obtain the superstar guard. For now, the Cavaliers will have a much more favorable matchup against Miami this coming season, barring a miraculous move by the Heat.

While the Miami Heat are debatable next year, this next team might face a complete collapse by next summer.