The San Antonio Spurs are in contention for their 23rd straight playoff berth, but they are far from competing for an NBA title at 17-22 overall and ninth in the Western Conference, so it's unclear whether they will be buyers or sellers at the NBA's Feb. 6 trade deadline.
"A source in contact with the Spurs said San Antonio hasn't decided what to do regarding LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan but that it views the Heat as a potential trade partner if it decides to make a move with either one," Jackson wrote.
DeRozan, 30, is averaging 22.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Aldridge, 34, is posting 18.8 points and 7.6 boards an outing.
ESPN's Zach Lowe implied Friday that the Heat could be looking to make a move:
"They are one player away from being really dangerous. They know. They are looking, sources say. A lot of speculation about the Heat -- and other teams -- has centered around Jrue Holiday. He's good. The Pelicans may opt to keep him and push for the No. 8 seed. (This is what suitors expect as of now -- which could of course change.)
"But I wonder if Miami has a more pressing need for a stretch power forward with some defensive chops to fill that [Justise Winslow/Derrick Jones Jr./James Johnson] slot."
The Heat are in contention for an Eastern Conference crown. The 28-12 squad sits second in the East thanks to a Jimmy Butler-led group that has seen marked improvement from center Bam Adebayo, hot shooting from rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro, and excellent bench contributions from former starting point guard Goran Dragic.
The Heat could use either DeRozan or Aldridge on their roster. DeRozan would serve alongside Butler as one of the team's two go-to scorers, and Aldridge would form a tough backcourt alongside Adebayo down low.
Aldridge, in particular, could be a fit for Miami given Lowe's remarks, even if he isn't a prototypical stretch 4. Still, he's shooting 44.0 percent from three-point range and is more than capable of spreading out defenses.
Miami needs another piece or two to truly contend with the East's best squad, the Milwaukee Bucks, who are running away with the No. 1 seed at 37-6. The Heat are in position to be active at the trade deadline.
From the Spurs' perspective, DeRozan and Aldridge are unquestionably the team's top two players, and a move out of San Antonio for either one would signal a white flag for the year.
Their schedule heading into Feb. 6 may help guide that decision. It's a mixed bag of opponents, ranging from the Western Conference-best Los Angeles Lakers to the Eastern Conference-worst Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks matchup is first on the docket Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET in San Antonio.