Heat's Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 11, 2021

Heat's Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Last season, the Miami Heat steamrolled through the bubble to make a surprise appearance in the NBA Finals.

    This season, they needed a 7-1 stretch before the All-Star break to make their way back to .500.

    Clearly, this campaign has not gone as planned in South Beach. Absences have played a big part in these struggles. The Heat have 36 games under their belt and only five players who have made more than 28 appearances.

    But their 25th-ranked offense bears plenty of the blame too. For that matter, so does the decision to let Jae Crowder walk as a free agent in the offseason.

    This roster has holes, which could lead to an active exchange season between now and the March 25 trade deadline. The Heat could be big buyers in this market, but they might have to make some tough sacrifices.


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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    The Heat need a power forward, probably more than they imagined they would when Crowder left.

    The veteran swingman has never been a difference-maker, but he has been a steady source of two-way play over his career. Miami has struggled to get that out of the position since his exit.

    Maurice Harkless drew the opening night start and was effectively out of the rotation within a week. Kelly Olynyk has serviceable stretches on offense, but he's severely limited at the other end. Minutes that go to Jimmy Butler or Andre Iguodala put extra stress on undersized 30-somethings.

    There isn't an ideal in-house solution.

    Beyond that spot, Miami needs more shooting. The Heat rank 18th in field-goal percentage (46.2) and are 22nd beyond the arc (35.3). Considering they play at the sixth-slowest pace, they need to make more of their possessions count.


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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    If Miami can make a major move, it will have to subtract from its rotation to get it done because it doesn't have a future first-rounder to send out.

    The Heat owe their upcoming first-rounder to the Oklahoma City Thunder or Houston Rockets. Then they are on the hook for an additional first-rounder to OKC that could convey in 2023 but carries lottery protections through 2025. They have traded all of their second-round picks through 2026, though they will get a 2022 second from either the Philadelphia 76ers or Denver Nuggets.

    If Miami is eyeing a significant swap, then, that means prospects will be needed to grease the gears.

    Sophomore scoring guard Tyler Herro is the best available—Bam Adebayo is about as close to untouchable as NBA players get—but he's also third on the team in scoring (15.8) and fourth in minutes (32.7). Duncan Robinson averages even more floor time (33.4) and is the top three-point threat (3.3 makes per night at a 39.1 percent clip). Kendrick Nunn, who averages 30 minutes, is an ignitable scorer who can light it up when he's cooking.

    These three players, plus rookie Precious Achiuwa and sophomore KZ Okpala, are the ones teams will want back in trades. The Heat would feel the sting of moving any of the five, but big deals can't happen without their inclusion.

Potential Targets

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    With Pat Riley at the helm, the Heat are always in the market for whales. Recently, there were pipe dreams floating around South Florida for the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden.

    Those players are off the table, and it seems so is the Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal, whom the Heat have "high" interest in acquiring, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Beal would be a dream for an attack that needs a scoring surge, but he has to be available for that to happen, and The Athletic's Shams Charania and Fred Katz reported that neither Beal nor Washington is interested in a trade.

    The Heat have long been linked to Victor Oladipo, but his upcoming free agency might make Miami hesitant to give up real assets for him. Where they might be willing to make some cuts is their search for Crowder's replacement. Thaddeus Young seems like an obvious target, while Rudy Gay and Harrison Barnes could fit the same criteria.

    The Atlanta Hawks have reportedly "shown a willingness" to hear offers for John Collins, per The Athletic's Sam Amick, and his skill set could fit perfectly alongside Adebayo. P.J. Tucker should be on the radar, though B/R's Jake Fischer reported Houston might seek Herro or Robinson in return, which isn't happening.

    Finally, if the Heat can make the money work, they might want to kick the tires on LaMarcus Aldridge. The veteran big man and the San Antonio Spurs "have mutually agreed he will not return to the team" as they search for potential trades, per ESPN's Tim MacMahon.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com. Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.