Published by Fran Cava
As each day passes the 2021 NBA free-agent class seems to dwindle. Household names like – Paul George, Jayson Tatum, and Giannis Antetokounmpo; were supposed to hit the open market next summer but instead decided to sign huge extensions. While big-time names signing extensions is not new, this class has been hyped up for the past few seasons for its abundance of franchise alerting players. This is simply not the case anymore.
One team poised to make huge splashes next offseason was the Miami Heat. After shocking the world in the bubble by cruising through the Eastern Conference, they put up a valiant effort with a banged-up roster against the heavily favored Lakers. The playoffs showed us that there is a potential championship core in place here, with the flexibility to add another star piece. They already have two established stars in Jimmy and Bam, veteran talent like Dragic and Olynyk, and two of the best shooters in the league with Herro and Duncan Robinson. With a great culture and an even better location, Miami was the favorite to add at least one huge name.
This year’s free-agent class, however, was going to be of no assistance to Miami. There just wasn’t a game-changing player that would get them over the hump. They were in trade talks with the Pacers for Oladipo, but let’s get real here. Victor Oladipo is not the answer to beat the Lakers, and quite honestly he ruins Miami’s floor spacing which has made them this good. The Giannis to the Heat train looked like a sure-fire deal if he managed to make it to 2021 without an extension. It was music to Heat fan’s ears that they would be able to add a star, without having to part ways with any young talent. That dream, however, was killed today with Giannis inking a 5 year 228 million dollar deal to stay with Milwaukee. Now the Heat are, with an almost identical roster to last years’, and no free agents to look forward to. Unless they are banking on Herro to become a star, moves need to be made.
Luckily for them, a proposal may have just fell in their lap. Say what you want about the guy, James “The Stripper King” Harden is a top 5 player in the league. He’s one of the most dynamic scorers this league has ever seen, and he wants out of Houston. He made a list of destinations he’d like to land, and of course, he mentioned South Beach. It all just seems too perfect. Harden’s game looks like it would blend magically with the Heat’s play-style. Nobody questions it’ll be a great fit. The problem here lies in Houston’s front office, where they refuse to make a deal unless they get an exorbitant return – and rightfully so. He’s an elite talent who just turned 31, and is still under contract for three years. He’s in no position to ask for a trade, but this is the NBA. Players get what they want eventually; just look how Paul George forced his way out of Oklahoma City.
While the Heat definitely can’t offer more than teams like the Nets, or Sixers they may be the only ones willing to make a deal. Philly talks have gone cold once Ben Simmons name was brought up. The Nets don’t want to pick up the phone after Houston asked for Kyrie. This leaves the Heat as the last possible contender. They would certainly need to include Herro, Robinson, Nunn, and possibly their 2020 first round pick Precious Achiuwa. On top of that, they are going to have to give every first round pick to their name for at least the next 5 years. While it takes away some identity from them, there’s no denying a core of Harden-Jimmy-Bam would be a serious threat. With the Nets getting healthy, and other eastern conference teams getting better the Heat need to do something. The question lies… does Miami want to just be good again, or do they want to be great?