Tyler Herro arrived at the Miami Heat’s media day on Monday prepared for the question.
So when asked about the Oct. 17 deadline to reach an agreement on a rookie-scale extension, the fourth-year guard offered a safe, milquetoast response.
“I’m just focused on the season and basketball,” he said from the podium at FTX Arena. “I’m going to let my agent take care of that.”
But during a moment of candor at the Heat’s ongoing training camp at the Baha Mar resort, away from the glare of cameras, there was greater candor.
He is involved — or at least has been involved.
And, yes, the money matters.
“I was active early in the summer,” he told the South Florida Sun Sentinel of the extension window that opened in July. “Then I realized it wasn’t going to get done, if it does get done, until later. So I just told my agent to call me when it’s ready.
“So we haven’t really spoken much about the contract. Obviously, I tell him to call me when it’s ready. If it’s not ready, I continue to play my game and figure it out next summer.”
That would be the next step in the absence of an agreement over these next three weeks, with the defending NBA Sixth Man of the Year otherwise to become a restricted free agent July 1.
To Herro, it is a relatively basic equation.
“We both know my worth,” he said of himself and the Heat. “I want to be in Miami, but it’s got to make sense for my family.”
Only it’s not so simple.
Once extended, Herro essentially cannot be traded until next offseason, because of an arcane “poison-pill” rule that would hinder almost all trade permutations under the NBA salary cap.
Herro acknowledged he was not fully familiar with that aspect, but said he also believed it best to avoid such deep dives.
What he does appreciate is his market value.
“There’s players across the league that have gotten paid who I know I’m better than. So it’s got to be the right number,” he said, with the Heat continuing camp on makeshift courts at the resort’s convention center.
Among recent extensions that have been used as means of comparison have been the four-year, $107 million, incentive-laden contract signed this summer by the New York Knicks’ R.J. Barrett, the four-year, $90 million extension signed last October by the Phoenix Suns’ Mikal Bridges, the four-year $107 million extension previously signed by the Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, as well as four-year deals in the $75 million range signed by the Brooklyn Nets’ Joe Harris, the Dallas Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr., the Houston Rockets’ Eric Gordon and the Knicks’ Evan Fournier.
“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Herro said. “But, like I said, it’s got to make sense for my family. I’m not rushing to get anything done. I’m still on my rookie contract, and the money doesn’t kick in until next summer. So at the end of the day, it’s got to make sense for me.
“So, like I said, I’m not in a rush.”
Still, there is that clock that continues to tick. Once the season opens, neither the Heat nor Herro can talk contract.
And while the Heat would have right the match outside offers for Herro as a restricted free agent, there also should be ample outside money, with the salary cap poised to make a major jump in 2023-24.
Of course free agency would take Herro, 22, back to his days at Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis., where he received recruiting pitches from Marquette, DePaul, Oregon State and Arizona State before backing out of a commitment to Wisconsin to instead play at Kentucky. He was drafted out of Kentucky as a freshman at No. 13 by the Heat in 2019.
So Recruiting 2.0 as a free agent?
“I mean, I think that’d be cool,” he said of being at the center of attention like so many previous NBA free agents. “But it’s nothing I want to do. My home is Miami. I want to be here. Since I’ve gotten here, we went to the [NBA] Finals and the Eastern Conference finals in three years.”