Kelly Olynyk heads to Miami, where he could develop into more than a role player

Kelly Olynyk is headed to the Miami Heat on a four-year, $50-plus million contract. (Getty)

Two days after his abbreviated Boston Celtics career officially came to an uneventful, overlooked end, Kelly Olynyk has a new home. And it’s a home that will pay the former Game 7 hero more than $50 million.

Olynyk is headed to Miami, having agreed to a four-year, $50-plus million contract with the Heat, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The deal reportedly includes a player option for the fourth year. It’s a big payday for Olynyk, and it comes despite what has developed into an increasingly dry free agent market.

Olynyk all but confirmed the news on Twitter:


Olynyk, who was selected 13th overall in the 2013 NBA draft, spent four years as a reserve big man in Boston. But the Celtics had little interest in retaining the Gonzaga product as a restricted free agent as they chased bigger names and better talent. They ultimately had no room for him once they agreed to a max deal with Gordon Hayward.

Immediately after the Celtics renounced the rights to Olynyk on Tuesday to clear room for Hayward, suitors reportedly lined up. At least five teams were reportedly interested, and probably more. Olynyk was an intriguing option as a skilled power forward/center who could grow out of his bench role in Boston and into something more elsewhere.

He’ll attempt to do that in Miami, where he could slot in as a four alongside Hassan Whiteside, or as a backup five when Whiteside sits. The Heat’s re-signing of James Johnson is also reportedly “imminent,” meaning the three — Whiteside, Olynyk and Johnson — will form a versatile frontcourt rotation of diverse skill sets that should vault the Heat back into the playoffs one year after coming up just short.

Olynyk will profit from point guard Goran Dragic’s playmaking, but more so from a more featured role in coach Erik Spoelstra’s offense. Olynyk was rarely option one, two or even three in Boston. If the size of the contract is any indication, that could change in Miami.

With the re-signing of Johnson expected to occur in the near future, the Heat will have to clear cap room to take in Olynyk’s salary. To do so, they have turned to the Dallas Mavericks, according to The Vertical’s Shams Charania. Per Charania, Miami could shed Josh McRoberts’ $6 million salary by sending him to Dallas along with a future second-round pick in exchange for sparsely-used center A.J. Hammons.

Dealing McRoberts would not only clear cap space; it would also clear rotation space for Olynyk, who represents a significant upgrade over the injury-plagued McRoberts.

Olynyk’s salary is slightly eye-opening. But of the players left on free agent boards across the league, hardly any offered as much upside as the 7-footer from Canada. His development in Miami, under a coaching staff and with a franchise that have been known for squeezing the most out of a player’s natural talent, will be fascinating to watch.