Though a lot of people considered the Miami Heat to be a darkhorse candidate in the Eastern Conference to begin 2019-20, it’s still fair to say that this is a team ahead of schedule. The Heat currently sit second in the East through 40 games and, though their 3.4 net rating might suggest they’re playing a little above their heads, this is a squad that could clearly make some noise in the Playoffs. The question for Pat Riley now becomes timeline. It’s no secret that Miami has high hopes for the Summer of 2021, specifically in the unique form of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Is there a way for the Heat to get better in the present without sacrificing the flexibility of the future?
Here’s what you need to know about Miami as we inch closer to February’s trade deadline.
Latest news, rumors, analysis for Miami Heat
Report: Andre Iguodala drawing interest from Heat
Update, Feb. 5: Miami and Memphis are in advanced talk regarding a deal that would send Iguodala to the Heat before Thursday’s trade deadline. It’s unclear what assets Miami is willing to give up, but it will have to absorb the rest of Iguodala’s $17.2 million salary for 2019-20 if it pulls the trigger.
Update, Feb. 4: The Heat are emerging as a suitor for Andre Iguodala, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Tuesday morning. The Grizzlies have been holding onto Iggy in hopes that he’ll pick up value at the deadline. The veteran hasn’t played all season awaiting a trade to a contender, where he’ll be a valuable role player, most likely off the bench. Miami could use Iguodala as depth at both SG and SF, plus he’s another defensive stopper alongside Jimmy Butler.
Update, Jan. 27: The injuries are piling up for the Heat. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn have all popped up on the report, forcing even Dion Waiters to get into a game. The NBA regular season is a grind and if the Heat want to be 100% by the end of it, they may need to make a move to shore up some depth. But not so fast. Without Nunn and Dragic over the weekend, the Heat almost took down the Clippers. The depth was tested and nearly came out on top. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro have stepped up and played big minutes, plus Waiters was actually OK against L.A. with 14 points in 19 minutes.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the Heat going after a big fish like DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge, plus Miami has been rumored to be looking to deal Justise Winslow. Still, I think it’ll take a lot for the Heat to land another big piece and it may be best to stand pat and add during the offseason.
— Ben Zweiman
Update, Jan. 17: The Heat are reportedly a potential landing spot for Spurs G/F DeMar DeRozan and PF/C LaMarcus Aldridge. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson says the Spurs are undecided on the future of both superstars and could opt to sell at the Deadline. The Heat are looking for another big name to add to their core of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
It may be in the best interest of the Spurs to fire sale now to start rebuilding, plus the Heat are in a good position to add another star to create another Big 3. A potential package would include expiring contracts, Derrick Jones Jr. and/or Kendrick Nunn, plus Justise Winslow.
Update, Jan. 17: Dion Waiters has yet to play a game for the Heat this season. He recently sent a cryptic message over social media essentially “chucking the deuces up.” Does this mean Miami is going to deal Waiters? I mean, at this point it makes the most sense. Waiters isn’t providing anything for the team and is basically just a distraction at this point. I don’t know what type of value Waiters has to anyone, but the Syracuse product was once a pretty decent scorer. Three seasons ago Waiters shot 39.5% from 3-point range and averaged a career-high 15.8 points per game for the Heat. He’d be an OK irrational confidence man off the bench for a team looking for scoring.
— Ben Zweiman
Not counting human-mascot Udonis Haslem, the longest tenured player on the Heat’s roster is Goran Dragic, who’s in the final year of a five-year, $85 million contract that he signed with Phoenix back in 2014. Miami’s is in an interesting spot with the veteran point guard. On the one hand, an expiring deal of that size is generally a very valuable trade asset, though it remains unknown how much teams covet cap space in 2020 with a relatively underwhelming free agent class set to hit the market. It’s also not as if Dragic isn’t a vital aspect of the Heat’s offensive attack. The 33-year-old is sixth on the team in minutes per game, while he sits second in both field goal attempts (20.9) and points (27.3) per 100 possessions. When healthy, he’s played exceedingly well and his experience could be necessary in the NBA’s second season with rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro also playing significant roles.
The Status of Justise Winslow
Another prospective trade piece is Justise Winslow. The Duke product has missed most of 2019-20 with nagging back issues, yet he appeared to break out offensively last season, averaging 12.6 points per game and shooting 37.5% from 3-point range on 3.9 attempts a night. At the beginning of the year, you could understand why the Heat might have been a tad bit hesitant to part with the former lottery round pick. Winslow’s shown the ability to guard all five positions and that defensive flexibility, along with a blossoming shot, is a skill set that is highly valued around the league. However, with the emergence of Nunn, Herro and Duncan Robinson, Miami has a wealth of depth at the wing. They’ve also illustrated that finding these undrafted gems might not be an organizational fluke. Maybe it’s time to move on from a 23-year-old who’s yet to play a full 82-game season in his career. At least it would be an easier pill to swallow that it could have been three months ago.