The 3 Most Logical Trade Targets for the Miami Heat
Fortunately for the Heat, these adjustments are pretty simple and could easily be taken care of with the right trade as the deadline for deals looms.
The gaping hole in Miami's all-around game is definitely the strength of its frontcourt in both defense and rebounding. As of February 5, the Heat rank dead last in rebounds per game in the league, and with a big man combo of Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem, it's easy to see why.
Don't get me wrong, Chris Bosh is an elite offensive player, but his rebounding and defensive play is right around average. As for Haslem, he's a great energy player off the bench, but he should not be in any team's starting lineup, especially for a contender like the Heat.
The Heat have somewhat addressed this problem of having a strong defender and rebounder down low with the recent signing of Chris "Birdman" Andersen.
However, the Birdman has been out of the league for quite a few months and is still getting back in basketball shape. Therefore, the Heat should look to the trade wire to see what kind of deals they can make with the limited salary cap flexibility they possess.
Spurs receive: PF/C Dexter Pittman, 2014 first-round pick
This would probably be one of the most ideal trades for Miami, at least in the short-term scope. San Antonio has been looking for a landing spot for Blair for quite some time, and getting a potential talent like Dexter Pittman in return wouldn't be a bad look.
While Blair is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, this deal could turn into a long-term look if he decides to take a pay cut to play for a championship contender.
Blair is everything the Heat could want in the paint right now. He's a little undersized for the center position (6'9"), but makes up for it with superb rebounding, hustle and a high motor. Pairing him with Chris Bosh would make for a solid tandem on offense as well since Blair is a proficient scorer between the blocks while Bosh can play to his strengths around the mid-range or perimeter.
This would be a low-risk, high-reward move for the Heat, who have been storing Pittman on the bench for a while. Losing a low first-rounder wouldn't hurt Miami either, as it also owns a future first pick thanks to a draft-day trade last summer with Philadelphia.
Rockets receive: PF/C Dexter Pittman, SF James Jones
In another case of the Heat saving a team from having to pay an expiring contract player, this move would bring big man Cole Aldrich to Miami.
Aldrich will become a free agent at the end of this season after completing his rookie contract, which featured a lot of inconsistent playing time and D-league trips with the OKC Thunder before being dealt to Houston in the James Harden blockbuster deal.
The Heat, however, would love to have a guy like Aldrich, who is reminiscent of a younger Chris Andersen in his game. He blocks shots fairly well, has a workable set of post moves and, most importantly, would jump at the chance to play big minutes for a contending team.
In terms of what Miami gives up here, it isn't much to look at. The Rockets may be interested in holding onto Aldrich, but with the price tag he might require for being so young and full of potential, they may rather deal him for two other expiring contracts.
This move may seem a bit unpopular for Heat fans who love and adore the hometown favorite Udonis Haslem, but it may also be one of the more logical decisions for a team struggling to rebound this badly.
Bringing in a guy like Dalembert could be huge for the Heat, who even tried to sign him in free agency a couple of summers ago. Now a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, Dalembert isn't getting too much playing time with young guns Larry Sanders, Ekpe Udoh and John Henson around, so the Heat could make a play for him at a reasonably low cost.
Dalembert brings a lot to the table for a center, even though he's not as young as the other trade options that I previously mentioned. He's a very talented shot-blocker, a great rebounder and has a veteran presence that would mesh nicely with his teammates in Miami.
This could be one of the most realistic and affordable trade targets for the Heat, especially since they could re-sign Dalembert after his contract expires this summer. Additionally, his salary demands would probably be rather low due to his older age and possible willingness to take a pay cut for a shot at a ring.
Which of these players should the Heat pursue?
Whatever the Heat decide to do about their issue at the center position, it will be important as the season progresses in the second half. The decision not to make a move could cost Miami in the long run, but making a move may bring unforeseen issues like chemistry problems.
In any case, the Heat still remain the favorites to take the Eastern Conference—and the NBA title for that matter. However, even the best of teams has holes, and this gaping hole could make the Heat that much more vulnerable to being dethroned by other contenders.
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