With the trade deadline approaching on Thursday, it remains to be seen whether or not the Miami Heat will be making any changes to their current roster. Some of the main questions that the Heat organization needs to ask themselves are the following: Do we want to trade away big contracts to clear up cap space for the future? Is Hassan Whiteside truly our big man of the future? What is Dion Waiter’s future role going to be for the team?

Looking at the first question, the Heat have several large contracts that will be eating up the team’s cap space for the foreseeable future. At the end of this season, Miami will be paying seven players greater than nine million dollars per year, leaving them with little to no cap space to acquire anyone in free agency.

The most noteworthy contract is Tyler Johnson’s, which explodes from $5.8 million to $19.2 million next year. To further complicate things, Johnson has a player option at the end of his contract worth another $19.2 million, meaning that the team could potentially have to pay Tyler around $40 million for the next two seasons. Although Johnson has really grown as a player and is a key role player off the Heat bench, the team will at the very least test his market value prior to the deadline, to see if they can free up some cap space.

Regarding the second question, the Heat must assess whether or not Hassan Whiteside is a franchise player. After his season last year, this question seemed much easier to answer as he was incredibly dominant, but this year he has missed 19 games due to injury and has not looked like his normal self.

Another worrisome aspect of Whiteside’s season this year is the fact that he has consistently been benched in the fourth quarters of close games. One could argue that head coach Erik Spoelstra is too hard on Hassan and is not giving him a chance to succeed in these opportunities, but nonetheless, Whiteside has not been making as great of an impact as Heat fans are accustomed to seeing. If the Heat do decide that they want to part ways with Whiteside, they will look to obtain draft picks and young talent in return, and this would allow Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo to get more minutes in the rotation.

As for the final question, after a disappointing season from Dion Waiters that ended early due to an ankle injury, the team may look to trade for a shooting guard such as Tyreke Evans or Lou Williams to fill the void left by Waiters absence. However, if they do look to trade for another shooting guard, will this simply be a temporary move for just this year, or will this new shooting guard permanently replace Waiters as the team’s starting shooting guard.

The Heat gave Waiters a 4-year $52 million contract at the end of last year, but no one knows if Dion will be able to return to form after his season ending ankle surgery. The Heat must decide whether they should make a big trade for a new starting shooting guard for the future, or if they should simply stick to what they have for the rest of the year.

Miami is currently the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, and look for them to be one of the more active teams before the deadline.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

PLAYERS: Erik Spoelstra
TEAMS: Miami Heat
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