The Miami Heat are one of the few teams that managed to surpass the expectations from them in the 2019-20 NBA season. Despite only having Jimmy Butler as their lone established star, the Heat have succeeded in fully dominating the Eastern Conference and are currently facing the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 Finals. Even if they fail to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy, their surprising appearance in the Finals is expected to be enough to change how people view them as a team.
With their impressive performance this year, several front-office executives who spoke to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer believe that the Heat will become the favorite landing spot for the “next star with a wandering eye.”
“Front office executives around the league believe the Heat have become the league’s top destination for the next star with a wandering eye. 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?”
Whether it’s via trade or free agency, the Heat are indeed in a strong position to add another superstar to their roster. They have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal and could open up enough salary cap space to chase big names in the free agency market. If the Heat are in a rush to give Butler a star running mate next season, they could start monitoring top players from teams that underachieved this year.
As O’Connor noted, some of the potential trade targets for the Heat in the 2020 offseason include Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, and Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers. Embiid, Beal, Harden, and Oladipo are yet to officially demand a trade from their respective teams, but their desire to win their first championship ring could alter their plans and convince them to take their talents to South Beach this fall.
Meanwhile, if the Heat don’t feel like sacrificing young players like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Kendrick Nunn, plus multiple first-round picks, they could choose to chase a superstar on the free agency market. This free agency may not be as star-studded as the previous offseason, but the following summer would be extremely different as the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of the Los Angeles Clippers, and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz are expected to become free agents. Of all those big names, Antetokounmpo — who is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and MVP — is believed to be the Heat’s No. 1 target in the 2021 free agency.