Bam Adebayo made a leap this season: 16.2 points and 10.5 rebounds a game, plus high-level defense and rim protection. He is in the mix for Most Improved Player. Conveniently, he made that leap the same season he was available for a contract extension.
Adebayo is a clear max player, but the Heat aren’t going to give him the big money quite yet. They are going to make him wait a year, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his podcast this week (hat tip Real GM).
“He’s not going to get a max contract in the offseason. Even though I think he should, because the Heat are going to save money for the 2021 summer. That’s a storyline that I can almost guarantee for you: Bam Adebayo will not sign a contract extension this offseason. It will be, ‘Bam, we’ll take care of you later.’”
That can work, and other players willingly have put off their contract extension for a year to help the team. For example, Kawhi Leonard did it in San Antonio (that is not what their ultimate falling out was over). Adebayo would be a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021 and Miami could match any offer for him.
Doing so would give the Heat more cap space in the summer of 2021 to chase an elite free agent.
To make this work, the player has to be on board or it can lead to the kind of resentment that will see him trying to force his way out of town. Adebayo may be good with waiting (it doesn’t impact his payday any), but Miami needs to be sure he is before trying this.