Miami Heat Bolster Frontcourt with Signing of Veteran Center Thomas Bryant

September 10, 2023

The Miami Heat faced a challenge last season when their starting center, Bam Adebayo, was off the court. To address this issue, the team made moves during the offseason by signing veteran center Thomas Bryant to a two-year contract at the minimum salary, which includes a player option for the second season. Bryant is expected to compete for Miami’s backup center role when training camp begins in early October.

The team’s strong interest influenced Bryant’s decision to join the Heat in him. He cited the Heat’s renowned culture of professionalism, high standards, conditioning, and physical readiness as qualities he aligns with. The Heat, in turn, was attracted to Bryant’s versatile offensive skill set. With a track record of shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc in the past four seasons and efficient scoring inside and from midrange, Bryant brings a valuable dimension to the team.

Last season, Bryant averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game with the Los Angeles Lakers before being traded to the Denver Nuggets in February. Over his six-year NBA career, he has averaged 10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game while displaying solid shooting percentages.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expressed excitement about Bryant’s addition, praising his ability to fit into the team’s system and complement other players. However, the defensive compatibility between Bryant and the Heat remains a question mark, as he is not known for elite shot-blocking but is a solid defensive rebounder.

Bryant’s competition for the backup center position includes second-year player Orlando Robinson, recently promoted from a two-way contract, and veteran Kevin Love, who can play multiple frontcourt positions but is undersized for the center role.

Ultimately, the Heat’s goal is to improve their performance during the minutes when Adebayo is not on the court, as they were outscored by four points per 100 possessions in those situations last season.=

As the new season approaches, the Heat’s roster needs to be completed, with only 13 players on its 15-man roster. The team closely monitors the situation with Damian Lillard but has yet to finalize a deal. The Heat faces limitations due to salary cap constraints and the new collective bargaining agreement, which restricts teams from carrying fewer than 14 standard contract players for extended periods.

Notable free agents such as Kelly Oubre Jr., Goran Dragic, and Kendrick Nunn are still available. Still, the Heat can only offer minimum contracts to outside free agents, given their current financial situation. The team keeps an eye on the evolving free agency landscape while remaining engaged in trade talks with the Portland Trail Blazers regarding Lillard, though discussions have been relatively quiet in recent weeks