Heat's Updated Trade Targets with 2021 NBA Deadline ApproachingMarch 4, 2021
Heat's Updated Trade Targets with 2021 NBA Deadline Approaching
The Miami Heat have mostly found their way back from a turbulent start that had them shouldering twice as many losses (12) as wins (six) in late January.
But being back at square one with a near-.500 record isn't exactly where this club wanted to be on the heels of last season's surprise NBA Finals trip.
For the Heat to reignite their championship hopes, this roster needs reinforcing ahead of the March 25 trade deadline. Pat Riley and Co. can decide whether a whale hunt is needed or if they can just get a replacement for Jae Crowder, but something must be done to get this club back into contention.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
One can debate whether Miami made the right move when abandoning the James Harden sweepstakes. What can't be argued, though, is the Heat's obvious need for offense.
Just four teams average fewer points per game. Only six have a worse offensive rating. The Heat's top two scorers, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, can be frustratingly passive on offense any given night.
Bradley Beal would be a godsend—if the Washington Wizards made him available in trade, and if the Heat wound up with the best offer on the table. Both of those are massive ifs, but a long-shot move for Beal is still the one major move that could change everything about the Heat's championship outlook.
He's the alpha scorer who could bring this roster together. They'd go from lacking knockout-powered scoring punch to rostering the favorite to capture the scoring crown. When he has his legs under him, Beal can play Erik Spoelstra-approved levels of defense, too. Plus, Beal's outside shot is sharp enough to keep defensive attention on him and away from Butler and Adebayo.
Would it take Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Precious Achiuwa and Kendrick Nunn to get Beal? Yes—that and more. Would it still be worth it at that point? Without question. Miami's window to strike with Butler is right this second, and a blockbuster trade for Beal would officially throw the Heat's hat into the championship ring.
Rudy Gay, San Antonio Spurs
The Heat had their reasons for letting Jae Crowder walk in free agency. Or, more accurately, they had a singular reason for doing so.
Miami wanted maximum flexibility to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 free agency, and Jae Crowder was after long-term stability. So, he was freed to take a three-year deal with the Phoenix Suns, while the Heat apparently banked on their internal options covering up his absence. The plan hasn't worked.
The Heat have cycled through a slew of players at the power forward spot, and nothing is sticking. They need to look outside the organization, and when they do, Rudy Gay should grab their attention. To some degree he already has, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported Gay is among the players the Heat have internally discussed.
The 34-year-old is down to the final season of his contract with the San Antonio Spurs, and while they've proved more spunky than expected, they should have trade prices placed on all of their vets on expiring deals. Assuming the price is reasonable, Miami might have to bite. He remains a smooth shot-creator who can knock down open threes and capably defend his position.
Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls
Some players are obvious fits for the famed #HeatCulture before they even enter the organization.
Thaddeus Young seems like one of those players.
The 32-year-old competes at both ends on every possession. He's not overwhelmingly good in any one area (save, perhaps, for crafty close-range scoring), but he's at least average in just about everything and well above it in several facets of the game. He can defend multiple positions, serve as an offensive focal point in spurts and stretch out defenses as an off-ball spacer.
Frankly, he's good enough that the Chicago Bulls might make him off limits in hopes of securing a playoff spot, but given how far they are from title contention, that could be short-sighted. If the Bulls wind up fielding offers for Young, whose 2021-22 salary is only partially guaranteed, Miami should be first in line to make one.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.