Heat mailbag: Answering more Jimmy Butler questions and why the NBA offseason is about to get busier

The Miami Herald’s Heat mailbag is back to answer your questions this offseason.

If you weren’t able to ask this time, send your questions for future mailbags via X (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email them to

@CarlosLop32: If the Heat and Jimmy Butler can’t come to terms on an extension this summer, how likely is it that he will be part of the team at the start of next season?

Anthony Chiang: At this point, these are all hypotheticals. But I don’t think you can rule out that possibility, considering Butler is under contract with the Heat for next season regardless of whether he signs a max extension with Miami this offseason. You could even argue the Heat would get an ultra-motivated Butler in this scenario because he would be playing next season for the max contract he’s seeking.

However, this path comes with some risk for the Heat.

While one could say Butler may then be forced next offseason to exercise the $52.4 million player option in his current contract with the Heat for the 2025-26 season because he might not get that type of money on the open market as he approaches his 36th birthday, the Heat risks losing a potentially disgruntled Butler for nothing in this scenario. That’s because Butler could bypass his player option next offseason and become an unrestricted free agent based on the current outside interest in signing him to a max deal.

Of course, just because Butler begins next season with the Heat doesn’t mean he’ll end next season with the Heat. Another possibility in this hypothetical scenario is the Heat trading Butler at some point during the season to erase the risk of losing him for nothing next offseason, but that would likely only come if the season goes awry and/or the Butler situation gets messy.

@pdavila73: What are Heat’s prospects for free agency?

Anthony: Well, we don’t have to wait much longer to find out what’s in store for the Heat in free agency this summer.

As part of the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams around the league can begin negotiating with their own impending free agents on the day after the last game of the NBA Finals. That could come as early as Saturday, with the Boston Celtics holding a 3-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the best-of-7 NBA Finals and Game 4 set for Friday night.

What does this mean for the Heat? The Heat can begin negotiations with Caleb Martin (if he opts out of his $7.1 million player option, as expected), Haywood Highsmith, Delon Wright and others.

NBA teams will then be permitted to begin free-agent talks with outside free agents on June 30 at 6 p.m., with free-agent signings eligible to become official when the league’s moratorium is lifted at noon on July 6.

@miami15155151: If the Heat doesn’t get a big name player like Donovan Mitchell, do they run it back?

Anthony: It depends on what your definition is for “run it back.” The Heat isn’t just going to bring back the same exact roster from this past season. Even if a big addition isn’t made this summer, the Heat will try to make tweaks to the supporting cast in hopes of its upgrading roster.

Think of the offseason that the Heat signed P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris during the 2021 offseason after being swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the 2021 playoffs. Of course, the Heat also made what appeared then to be a big trade for Kyle Lowry that offseason, so Miami did more than just make tweaks to the supporting cast that summer.