Heat's Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Heat's Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Don't be alarmed if you start seeing any lighted lanterns dotting the Atlantic coastline.

    It'll just be a signal for what the NBA's Eastern Conference has already seen transpiring: The Miami Heat are coming.

    After being bogged down by an absurd amount of player absences early on, the Heat are spiking ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline. Even after dropping their last three games, they've won 11 of their last 15 games.

    On the heels of last season's Finals appearance, though, they're aiming higher than a mid-tier seed in the playoffs. To realize their greatest ambitions, they might need to be active this trade season. Their 25th-ranked offense, in particular, might need some serious attention over the coming days.

    These three potential trade targets would help grease their offensive gears.

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    This might be cheating. Or rather, it would be if we weren't the ones making the rules.

    LaMarcus Aldridge probably isn't a true trade target of the Heat, since they would have to jump through too many financial hoops to take on his $24 million salary. But he still fits our made-up-on-the-spot criteria, since he'd be a primary target of Miami if he reaches the buyout market.

    Moreover, Miami is "considered by front-office executives as one of the favorites" to get Aldridge if he is bought out, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.

    Aldridge's All-Star days are behind him, but he can still contribute as a complementary scorer, rebounder, interior defender and shooter. His primary role might be spelling Bam Adebayo at the center spot, but in the right matchup, those two could share the frontcourt for stretches.

Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Because the Toronto Raptors have temporarily relocated to Tampa Bay, Heat president Pat Riley might not have to leave the Sunshine State to find his next whale.

    Assuming All-Stars Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic all stay put, Kyle Lowry looms as the top target among realistically available players. And the Heat apparently have a leg-up on the competition in the Lowry sweepstakes.

    "If [Lowry] gets dealt, league sources say his preferred destination is Miami because of his close friendship with Jimmy Butler," O'Connor reported.

    Lowry would be a godsend to get the Heat's offense out of first gear. He can run the show himself, add off-ball value as a spot-up sniper and work some two-man magic with Adebayo on pick-and-rolls and dribble handoffs.

    Lowry's 17.7 points per game would rank third on the Heat, and his 7.4 assists would trail only Butler. Lowry could be key in curbing Miami's turnover troubles (27th in turnover percentage), and his tenacious approach to the defensive end would be a seamless fit in the Heat's famed #Culture.

Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Heat have had a hole in the frontcourt ever since they let Jae Crowder walk in free agency, and while Trevor Ariza should help, the Heat can't pin all of their hopes on a 35-year-old who hadn't suited up before landing in South Beach earlier this month.

    If Miami further hones in at the 4 and 5 spots, it should take a long look at Larry Nance Jr.

    He wouldn't come cheap, so the Heat's interest level could hinge on what (if any) other deals they can make and what kind of damage would be done to their already shallow asset pool. But if there's room in the budget, he'd be an easy fit as a do-it-all contributor who never loses the energy battle.

    There really isn't a weak spot in his arsenal. Outside shooting might come closest, but even then, he's bagging 1.2 triples per night at a 36.9 percent clip. That should leave enough spacing for him to share the floor with Butler and Adebayo, and that trio would be downright terrifying at the defensive end.


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