Miami Heat

Mailbag: What does Team USA invite mean for expectations surrounding Heat’s Bam Adebayo?

Bam Adebayo speaks on joining Team USA

Heat center Bam Adebayo speaks about joining Team USA for training camp in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.
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Heat center Bam Adebayo speaks about joining Team USA for training camp in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.

The Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.

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@AR1ST0KOUNMPO: With the trade of Hassan Whiteside, the expectations for Bam Adebayo for this upcoming season are higher. How high are the expectations now that he has been selected to Team USA, regardless if other players pulled out. There’s obviously belief from the USA staff in this kid.

Anthony Chiang: The expectations are high, there’s no doubt about it. Those within the Heat organizations really believe in Bam Adebayo. It’s why he started 22 of the Heat’s final 23 games last season. It’s why he averaged 7.4 fourth-quarter minutes per game and played in 74 of the possible 82 fourth quarters last season. It’s why the Heat is prepared to give him an even bigger role — a starting one — this upcoming season after trading Hassan Whiteside last month.

The fact Adebayo was selected to join Team USA in preparation for the FIBA World Cup didn’t create those expectations. They were already there. But getting this experience is valuable for Adebayo. He’s 22 years old. Getting this chance, even if it ends after this week’s Team USA training camp, can only help him. It will also give us all a chance to evaluate just how much Adebayo’s game has grown since the end of last season. He said Friday that his outside shot is the area of his game that has improved most.

The Heat views Adebayo as a key piece to its future. An invite to Team USA training camp is just confirmation that others also hold him in high regard.

@NikoDevlin: Miami is still dangerously close to the hard cap apron, what kind of move can you see them making to find some breathing room?

Anthony: At this point, breathing room could be hard to come by, unless a trade is made. But that’s OK, as long as the Heat is able to stay below the $138.9 million hard cap, which was brought on by the sign-and-trade acquisition of Jimmy Butler. The Heat is hard-capped at this number for the rest of the season. With 13 players under standard NBA contracts, the Heat stands a little more than $2 million below the hard cap, which is enough room to sign a veteran such as Udonis Haslem to the minimum. If the Heat signs Haslem (who is still deciding whether to return for a 17th NBA season or retire) to a veteran minimum contract, it would be only about $1 million below the hard cap.

Also, the Heat is currently about $4 million over the $132.627 million luxury tax threshold for the upcoming season. Expect Miami to try to get under this line at some point this season to avoid paying the penalty and further distance itself from any threat of a repeater tax. Getting under the luxury tax line would give the Heat some cushion from the hard-cap number.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.