Heat would consider Kyle Lowry deal. Where things stand as trade deadline nears

Frank Franklin II/AP

The Miami Heat has been receiving inquiries about point guard Kyle Lowry, and he’s now among several Heat players in play as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline approaches.

The Heat initially had no interest in dealing Lowry. But the team’s position has softened recently, and Miami is now open to trades involving Lowry if the team is offered a deal it views as advantageous, according to a source in contact with the team.

The question is what any team would be willing to offer for a 36-year-old point guard who has been dealing with a knee issue that has bothered him periodically since December and whose offensive efficiency has diminished this season.

The Los Angeles Clippers are the only team that has been publicly linked to Lowry in media reports, but others have inquired, according to a league source briefed on the matter.

The Clippers reportedly are seeking a veteran point guard after their trade bid was rejected for Kyrie Irving, who was instead dealt from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks. That offer, according to The Athletic, included Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, a first-round pick and two second-round picks.

The other point guards linked to the Clippers in media reports — Utah’s Mike Conley and Toronto’s Fred VanVleet — likely would require more trade compensation than Lowry would.

Most permutations of two among Kennard, Norman Powell, Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington would work, within salary cap rules, for a Clippers trade involving Lowry.

The issue is whether the Clippers or another team would be comfortable with Lowry’s left knee (which swelled up again Friday) and his somewhat diminished production. Lowry had a minor medical procedure on the knee in January, when he missed four games.

He missed Saturday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks because of left knee soreness and said he planned to see a doctor in Miami early this week to determine what the issue is.

Lowry is making $28.3 million this season and is due to earn $29.7 million next season in the final year of his three-year, $85 million contract.

Lowry’s role has changed in Miami. He’s playing off the ball more, and his usage rate is his lowest since his rookie season (2006-07).

He’s averaging 12 points (his lowest since 2009-10), while shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent on three-pointers. He’s averaging 5.3 assists (34th in the league) and was 10th in the league in assists last season at 7.5 per game. He’s averaging 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals.

Lowry has not played in four of the past five fourth quarters that he has been available for. The only fourth quarter he played in during this span was when he logged seven fourth-quarter minutes in a 122-117 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Jan. 29.

A six-time All Star, Lowry remains a respected leader who can effectively get a team into offense and also remains among the league’s best guards at drawing charges.

The marriage between Lowry and the Heat hasn’t always gone smoothly, though he has handled the situation professionally and not complained about his role or sitting in the fourth quarter of recent games.

After last season, Heat president Pat Riley challenged him to get in better shape. Lowry entered training camp in good condition but shrugged off Riley’s comments in September, saying: “It’s whatever. Honestly, he has his opinion. Right? Everyone has their opinion, and it doesn’t do anything for me. All I do is motivate myself.”

According to a source, the Heat also has received trade calls on Max Strus, who will be a free agent this summer. The Heat has interest in re-signing Strus this summer but is willing to listen to offers on most players on the roster.

Keep in mind that it would be difficult to trade Tyler Herro before July because of salary cap rules involving players who received rookie extensions.

If the Heat doesn’t move Lowry this week, he could be used as salary cap ballast in any Heat attempt to trade for a star this summer.

Miami, like much of the rest of the league, will pursue Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant again if he asks for a trade this summer.

Lowry’s contract also would be helpful to facilitate a deal for a highly-paid All Star or former All Star such as Washington’s Bradley Beal (due $46.8 million next season), Toronto’s Pascal Siakim ($37.8 million) and Chicago’s Zach LaVine ($40 million). There’s no indication that those three players are available, but all have been mentioned generally in trade speculation in the past year or two.

The Heat continues to look for a power rotation player as Thursday’s deadline approaches, while also trying to trade veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.

The Nets need a backup center and acquired a $5 million trade exception in the Irving deal with Dallas. The Heat could offer the Nets a few million dollars and a second-round pick if Brooklyn can find no better center than Dedmon via trade.

With the possibility of Durant or another star becoming available this summer, the Heat might be disinclined to trade a first-round pick this week, unless it’s receiving a quality starter in return.

The Heat is in the middle of a three-day break before opening a quick two-game homestand Wednesday against the Indiana Pacers ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline. The Heat entered Monday in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at 29-25.