The 2021 NBA free agent class does not look like one for the ages, especially after Giannis Antetokounmpo's supermax extension signed ahead of this season took the wind out of many a hopeful franchise's sails. One player who will garner a lot of attention, though, is Duncan Robinson. The Miami Heat sharpshooter will be a restricted free agent at season's end and shooting has never come at a higher premium in the league. Robinson can do that at an extremely high level, which makes up for the fact that it's really the only thing he brings to the table.
Adrian Wojnarowski discussed the matter last night with Rachel Nichols and reported Robinson could be looking at a $20 million per year salary.
Now, that does seem like an awfully big number for a guy who provides one element to a team and can do no better than hold his own in every other area. But not so odd when you consider Joe Harris (mentioned above) and Davis Bertans, two players who are of the exact same profile as Robinson, were signed to deals worth roughly around the same amount, if a little less. What makes Robinson's situation more complicated (as explained by Woj) is that other teams will be swooping in with offer sheets to try and price Miami out of negotiations, which will raise Robinson's contract figure significantly.
The Heat will probably match, because for them Robinson would be worth every penny. He's by far the best shooter on the roster and one of the premier deep threats in the league, shooting a cool 40.5 percent from three-point land this season. Last year he was at 44.6 percent. Both seasons came while he was chucking eight three-pointers a game. To put that into context, in the 2020-21 season only two players in the league are shooting eight or more threes a game and sinking those shots at a 40 percent clip or better: Stephen Curry and Zach LaVine.
Is Robinson as good as either of those two? Of course not. But that kind of shooting threat opens up the entire floor. There are plenty of good shooters in the NBA. There are few great ones, the guys that defenses have to account for every second he's on the floor. Bam Adebayo screening Robinson open on the perimeter means the entire defense shifts as a reaction. You can count how many guys can do that with a simple action on one hand.
It'll be tough for the Heat to pull off financially, even with his Bird Rights. Adebayo's $163 million extension will kick in next season and will be even more expensive if he lands on an All-NBA Team. Jimmy Butler will be in the third year of a $140 million deal. Tyler Herro will be looking for a new deal next offseason. But they probably will make it work because they understand Robinson's value better than anyone.
Shooting threes at a high clip is now the most lucrative job in the NBA, and possibly in sports. Robinson will inevitably become the latest beneficiary of that trend, regardless of who gives it to him.