Miami Heat president Pat Riley is not afraid to make bold moves, and it has worked for him several times in his basketball career. The Heat are not considered among serious title contenders, but they might be just another big move away from reaching elite status in the league again.
The Heat are expected to be in the running for top free agents this summer. But if the Heat want to become a title contender again, Simon Smith of Hoops Habit said that Miami should take a gamble on San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who has been mentioned in numerous rumors over the past several weeks.
Leonard, who is playing in the seventh season of his career, could become a free agent in 2019. There are question marks about his relationship with the Spurs, which fueled speculations suggesting that the two parties will part ways. Smith said that the Heat should keep an eye on the situation, and make bold offers if needed.
Miami can wait and pursue Leonard in 2019, but he is expected to get a lot of lucrative offers, which will make it difficult for the Heat to get him. If they want to pair Leonard with budding superstar Hassan Whiteside, Smith said the Heat should take an aggressive approach, and offer an enticing deal to the Spurs this summer.
Smith suggested a deal that could work for both teams. He said the Heat should send Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, and Bam Adebayo to San Antonio to get Leonard. The deal will give the Spurs an opportunity to continue competing while developing young players, and San Antonio coach Greg Popovich is no stranger to such task.
The deal will be costly for the Heat because Adebayo has the potential to become a top center in the league several years from now, while Winslow might turn into a decent two-way player. However, the trade will give them a more versatile starting lineup of Leonard, Whiteside, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, and Josh Richardson.
It is worth noting, though, that the deal will only be possible if Leonard asks the Spurs to trade him in the offseason. His health issues could also be a cause for concern for potential trade partners. The two-time All-Star has only played nine games this season due to a quad injury. But according to Lisa Salters of ESPN, Leonard, who is averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game, might become available for the Spurs on Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans.