Miami is currently the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. But it's just 22-30 and has no real shot at making noise in the playoffs if it does get there. Most teams in this kind of situation look to slowly rebuild by amassing picks or young players and pouncing on opportunistic trades. The Heat don't have that luxury.
Dwyane Wade likely doesn't have many more productive years left, which means Miami has to focus on upgrading its roster now. Unfortunately, the Heat aren't just a small piece or two away from real contention. They need at least one really good player to have a shot at playoff success, even when you factor in Hassan Whiteside's emergence and Josh McRoberts' return from injury next season.
That leaves Miami with two primary options at the trade deadline. It could go all-in on a major player—easier said than done considering both its lack of big expiring contracts and how many future picks it owes, per RealGM. Or it could search the bargain bin for cheap contracts, plugging some of this year's holes while clearing out space to pursue bigger fish down the road.
Regardless of what Miami chooses to do, it definitely has some issues to address moving forward. Let's take a look at some of the players it should target.
Miami is a middle-of-the-pack shooting team, hitting on 34.5 percent of its three-point looks. But that number alone understates the Heat's issues from beyond the arc. Their backcourt is hitting a combined 29.6 percent from deep. And their best shooter by percentage, Shawne Williams, is a career 34.5 percent from outside and in the middle of some serious regression—he's shooting 23 percent from three in 2015.
One great target for Miami would be the Phoenix Suns' Gerald Green, a prolific shooter who can play multiple positions. The Suns are backcourt heavy and could move at least one of their guards, per Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Green is only hitting 36 percent from deep this season, but he was a 40 percent shooter last year. He's also putting up threes at one of the highest rates in NBA history, which in and of itself gives him a lot of value as a floor spacer.
He wouldn't be a perfect fit in Miami. He's a poor defender, and his transition buckets would evaporate with the Heat, who play at the slowest pace in the league. Still, for $3.5 million, per ShamSports.com, Miami can't do much better than a guy capable of this:
Another option would be to target spot-up guards who can run the point for long stretches.
Miami is getting almost nothing from the point guard position. Admittedly, Mario Chalmers playing this poorly all season seems unlikely. But even if he does bounce back, Norris Cole has been a train wreck for years. The Heat can do better.
Pablo Prigioni (New York Knicks), Randy Foye (Denver Nuggets) and Gary Neal (Minnesota Timberwolves) fit the bill here and would be relatively cheap to acquire. All three players are primarily spot-up threats who can create a bit of offense in a pinch.
Each player comes with some risk. Foye and Neal are both shooting very poorly this season (31 and 29 percent from three, respectively), and Foye has two years left on his deal. Prigioni has shot the ball well (37.5 percent from deep), but he's already 37 years old and also has two years left on his contract.
Even so, good shooters don't often come cheap, and it's reasonable to expect these guys to start hitting at some point.
This is where the big fish are. There are a surprising amount of really good point and combo guards on the market right now, starting with the Oklahoma City Thunder's Reggie Jackson.
Jackson's numbers are only so-so this season. However, he was phenomenal when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were out with injuries, and the Thunder are under a lot of pressure to deal him before his impending free agency. There's also reason to believe he could shine elsewhere.
Jackson's numbers as a primary ball-handler are sterling, especially when you consider how little offensive talent there is on the OKC bench. He's shooting roughly 46.5 percent in pick-and-roll and isolation situations this season. On a points-per-possession basis, he ranks in the league's 85th percentile in both categories, similar to players like John Wall and Damian Lillard.
His shooting is a legitimate concern, but he's functioned well off the ball next to Westbrook. There's no reason to think he couldn't do the same with Wade.
And on a purely anecdotal note, few players are more fun when they get into the paint. Jackson's a patient attacker and has a floating push shot that he hits with shocking regularity when he's a few feet from the rim. He'd be a blast in Miami.
If Jackson's off the table, Phoenix is the next place to look. The Heat have reportedly been sniffing around Goran Dragic, per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, but it's hard to imagine anything of that magnitude happening. Miami has Luol Deng to give up, but the Suns can likely find a better deal elsewhere.
Isaiah Thomas, however, is a possibility, though Phoenix would undoubtedly ask for a lot back.
Though his height (he's 5'9") makes him a defensive liability, Thomas is a wonderful offensive player. He's been one of the NBA's most efficient scoring guards since he was a rookie and is shooting 39 percent from deep this season on a ton of attempts.
He's also a wicked ball-handler. There might not be a player in the league with quite his array of fakes and dribble moves—there's certainly not one with a better hesitation move.
There are other targets, but Jackson and Thomas are by far the best. The Heat have expressed interest in Jameer Nelson, per RealGM's Shams Charania, but it's hard to see how he really moves the needle. Lance Stephenson is another intriguing possibility, though he's been truly terrible this season.
This isn't a pressing need outside of this season, as McRoberts is a fantastic bench big. But the Heat are a little short on depth at the 4 right now, and it would be worth digging for some small deals to shore that hole up.
The Portland Trail Blazers' Dorell Wright and the Indiana Pacers' Chris Copeland would fit nicely. Wright and Copeland are combo 3/4s, but they could play at the 4 full time in Miami (so long as they didn't log heavy minutes).
Both players are solid shooters and are signed to relatively inexpensive deals, per ShamSports.com. Wright would likely be a tad easier to acquire, as he's only getting spot minutes in the Portland rotation right now. But the Heat couldn't really go wrong with either.
Copeland and Wright would provide decent floor spacing for when Chris Bosh rides the bench and could be a part of some fun small-ball lineups as well.
There's one more option Miami could choose to explore, one that could be rather divisive for Heat fans: Michael Beasley. According to Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy, Beasley enjoyed a terrific year in China and is working out in Miami while waiting for an NBA offer.
It's extremely unlikely that Miami signs Beasley, but he can play the 4 and shot 39 percent from three last season. Stranger things have happened.