For proof that the Miami Heat are a team whose future is in complicated flux, look no further than their Tuesday press conference, where LeBron James and Chris Bosh took turns playing evasive action with regards to the Big Three’s big decisions this summer.
For Pat Riley, the team’s president of basketball operations, bringing Dwyane Wade, James and Bosh back to South Beach will likely entail two things: convincing them all to take significant pay cuts and assuring them that the Heat will do everything in their power to maintain the team’s status as a bona fide contender.
And while Windhorst acknowledged that the pairing was a “long shot,” such a signing would be possible if Miami’s troika were willing to sign reduced extensions.
Lowry would most certainly be an upgrade over Mario Chalmers, whose struggles in the NBA Finals cast into high relief the Heat’s need for a reinjection of talent.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was quick to defend Chalmers at Tuesday’s presser, but not without sounding decidedly noncommittal about whether or not the team would actively address a point-guard upgrade:
Spoelstra defends Chalmers also: "You're talking about a player who was a starter on 2 championship teams."— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 17, 2014
Spo on Chalmers, "I'm not examining that right now. And, again, there can be wild exaggeration... The narrative and storyline can change."— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) June 17, 2014
However, as Bleacher Report’s Stephen Babb recently noted, landing someone like Lowry may be easier said than done for Miami:
First, Miami is well over the salary cap, leaving it with only a midlevel exception to acquire additional talent. That exception may be better-used restocking the bench by acquiring a shooter or two.
Second, there aren't very many good free-agent point guards available, especially if you're looking for someone who's actually a step up from Chalmers. Mo Williams may be on the market. Ramon Sessions could probably be had on the cheap. But it would be hard to argue either of those guys is a clear improvement over Chalmers.
Perhaps the biggest key to whether or not these Lowry-to-Miami rumors progress beyond mere hearsay lies not just in James, Wade and Bosh’s willingness to take less money, but in Lowry’s as well.
Entering his ninth season, Lowry—who just turned 27—is still waiting on his big NBA payday. It’s conceivable he could fetch something on the order of what the Denver Nuggets gave Ty Lawson prior to the 2012-13 season—four years, $48 million. It just won’t be from the Heat—unless, of course, they figure out some way to backload the deal.
One possible option would be to sign Lowry on the cheap for two seasons, giving him the option to sign a new, near-max deal while still on the right side of 30—and with a couple of titles in tow, if all goes right.
Lowry certainly isn’t the last name we’ll hear being linked to the Heat in the weeks ahead. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a compelling one.