Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
Regardless of how things play out for the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, they have positioned themselves as a premier landing spot for talent.
Per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, various front-office executives “believe the Heat have become the league’s top destination” for free agents or players under contract who are unhappy with their current teams:
“Maybe it will be a free agent. Or maybe a player under contract who will seek a trade in 2021, since the Heat have good young players who could be traded in addition to first-round picks in 2025, 2026, and 2027. Keep in mind: Miami emptied the draft pick cupboard to acquire LeBron and Bosh 10 years ago. Who knows what could happen in the coming years with Houston, Indiana, Philadelphia, Washington, or any other team facing a crossroads.”
It’s unclear which players the Heat might attract as free agents or pursue in trades at this point.
For instance, O’Connor noted people around the league believe that Bradley Beal is going to “give it a shot” with the Washington Wizards next season with John Wall expected to return from an Achilles injury.
The biggest name that has been indirectly linked to Miami is Giannis Antetokounmpo. Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported last October that the Heat were “focused on keeping their salary books as clean as possible” for the free-agent class of 2021.
That group could include Antetokounmpo, Paul George, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
Right now, the two biggest names reportedly on the trade block are Victor Oladipo and Chris Paul. Jared Weiss of The Athletic reported on September 27 that Oladipo is “looking to move on this offseason” from the Indiana Pacers.
Oladipo denied the report while speaking to Fat Joe on Instagram Live (h/t Clutch Points’ Dijo Songco): “I’m a Pacer. I can’t control the rumors, man. … All of the ones on the internet, I don’t even know where they come from. I’m just in the background, working out, working on my knee, trying to get right for next year.”
Per Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Oklahoma City Thunder “are motivated” to trade Paul this offseason.
Based on how quickly the NBA moves, there could certainly be more marquee names available via trade in the coming months.
The Heat’s run to the Finals has been an excellent showcase for head coach Erik Spoelstra and their young talent. Jimmy Butler is the on-court leader, but Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro have been just as essential to them getting as far as they have in the playoffs.
Miami has all of the pieces in place that make it an obviously attractive destination for players. It’s just up to Pat Riley and the rest of the front office to determine who might fit what the organization’s needs and make their best pitch if the right star becomes available.