The Heat is interested in adding frontcourt reinforcement before Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, ideally a power forward with size who could play alongside Bam Adebayo when Caleb Martin is on the bench or offer another option when Adebayo is resting.
That’s the feedback from a team that has spoken to Miami.
And what about disgruntled Nets star Kyrie Irving? The Heat is monitoring the situation and hasn’t ruled anything out. But Miami did not immediately begin pursuing Irving when he asked for a trade on Friday.
ESPN reported that the Lakers, Phoenix and Dallas are the three teams with interest in the mercurial eight-time All Star guard, an impending free agent who is reportedly seeking a max extension. The Heat did not pursue Irving when he was available last summer, and if the Heat mustered any interest at this point, it likely would be contingent on the Nets’ willingness to take onerous Heat contracts.
Unless Miami decides to pursue Irving, the focus will be on frontcourt help. And one issue that must be navigated is whether there’s any forward/center available that would be worth trading a first-round pick for.
The Heat has two first-round picks to use in trades (2023 and either 2028 or 2029). Whether the Heat would be willing to trade a first-round pick to dump onerous salaries would depend entirely on the quality of player it’s receiving in return.
“I would trade a first rounder if it moves you up in the East or gives you a good chance to better compete with the teams ahead of you,” said a longtime NBA scout who has evaluated the Heat this season. “They need guys who can score. That should be the priority.”
Under terms of last February’s KZ Okpala trade with Oklahoma City, the first-round pick that Miami owes to the Thunder will convey to OKC if it’s not in the lottery in 2025 or convey to OKC under any circumstances in 2026 if Miami has a lottery pick in 2025.
Though the Heat owns its 2024 first-rounder, it cannot be traded because teams cannot trade picks in consecutive years, and the 2025 first-round would go to OKC if Miami makes the playoffs in the 2024-25 season. Miami also cannot trade its 2027 first-rounder for similar reasons.
The Heat can free up another first-rounder to trade if Miami and OKC agree to lift protections on that future first-rounder owed to the Thunder.
The scout, who works for another team, was asked which of the players who have been mentioned publicly in trade talks would be worth including a first-round pick for. His feedback, offered on condition of anonymity:
▪ Atlanta’s John Collins: “I would do it if it’s Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon and a first. I wouldn’t do it if Caleb Martin was in the package instead of Dedmon,” because of the money left on the Collins deal (three years, $75 million after this season). Perhaps Nikola Jovic could be added in that scenario.
“I’m a bigger fan of Collins than some,” the scout said. “I know he’s not shooting threes well this season, but he has a nice stroke and he’s a better shooter than he has shown this year. Miami needs a four [power forward], he’s a big-time athlete, and if you get him involved offensively, he can help you. Part of the problem in Atlanta is it’s a two man show with the two guards. He’s better if he’s more involved.
“He’s a pretty good rebounder, nothing special. He’s not the best defender, but he’s physically gifted. He can get pick and roll lobs. He’s a skywalker. The question is what you would be giving up besides the first-rounder.”
Recent reports say the Hawks are more inclined to keep than trade Collins, who is averaging 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds and shooting 25.9 percent on threes, well below his 35.7 career average.
▪ Charlotte’s P.J. Washington: “I think I would give up a [protected] first for him,” the scout said. “He’s talented but doesn’t always play hard. Miami Heat culture would be good for him. Good athlete, three-point range, a skilled four man who could even play some small ball five.”
Washington is averaging 14.9 points and 4.6 rebounds and shooting 34.5 percent on threes. The Hornets have his rights for next season, having extended a $7.92 million qualifying offer.
▪ The scout said he would trade a first for Washington’s Kyle Kuzma, but the Wizards are expected to keep him and try to re-sign him this summer after he opts out of his $13 million player option for 2023-24.
“He’s having a good year and his game has evolved,” the scout said.
The scout said he would give up a first-rounder for Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanovic, but the Heat has not been among the teams reportedly showing interest, per The Athletic. He’s a high-volume scorer but a subpar defender.
▪ The scout said he also would offer a protected No. 1 for Chicago power forward/center Nikola Vucevic - as long as much else of value isn’t needed and if Miami could dump Duncan Robinson’s contract as part of a trade.
Vucevic has an expiring contract, but a team trading for him would get his Bird Rights. But one report said the Bulls are not looking to break up their team.
“He would be a good complement offensively with Bam [Adebayo],” the scout said. “He obviously gives you no rim protection but he rebounds on both boards, and you could bring Martin off the bench.”
▪ The scout said if the Raptors decide to make swing forward OG Anunoby available, he would offer at least a first. But the Raptors reportedly want three first-round picks for him.
“Skilled defender, makes threes. He’s got value around the league.” But it’s unlikely Miami would have enough to tempt Toronto.
▪ Among other forwards/power rotation players who could be available, the scout said he would not trade a first-rounder for Phoenix’s Jae Crowder, Charlotte’s Mason Plumlee, Utah’s Kelly Olynyk and Jared Vanderbilt, Minnesota’s Taurean Prince or Kyle Anderson, San Antonio’s Doug McDermott and Zach Collins, Orlando’s Mo Bamba and New York’s Cam Reddish.
But he would consider second rounders and something else for most of those. Olynyk would be a natural fit, because he can shoot threes and has played in Miami’s system previously.
“Bamba can shoot it and he needs a change of scenery,” the scout said. “Olynyk would help; he’s smart, pass, can shoot. But he doesn’t raise you in the East enough to give up a first.
“Reddish has potential. Very good athlete, has had moments defensively. But he’s been two places and not had a good experience in either. Vanderbilt is an excellent rebounder, very good passer, high energy player. He plays his butt off. Not a shooter. He and Martin give you something different. You’re not giving up a first for him.”
The Heat previously inquired about Crowder, but Miami and the Suns could not agree on trade terms. Crowder was granted permission to speak with the Bucks, who have been pursuing a trade with Phoenix.
The Heat isn’t trading Jimmy Butler or Adebayo, and Tyler Herro would be difficult to trade before July because of salary cap rules. Miami likely would listen on offers for others, though it clearly prefers not to trade some of those others, such as Martin.
Kyle Lowry was ruled out for Saturday’s game with left knee soreness, leaving Miami with just nine players available against Milwaukee -- eight if Gabe Vincent (listed as questionable with an ankle) is unable to play.