Miami Heat president Pat Riley already had a reputation as one of the slickest coaches in NBA history. Now he’s cementing a new legacy as the craftiest front-office executive in basketball.
Riley brilliantly executed two deadline trades last week where he acquired top-tier talent without giving up any young assets. The deals that brought the Heat Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica were two strokes of maneuvering genius. The best part? It may have been just a pre-cursor to a blockbuster move this offseason.
According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, people around the league are “closely monitoring Miami” following their trade deadline heists. Not only did Riley greatly improve his roster, but he did so by retaining the three young players he kept saying were off-limits: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Precious Achiuwa.
“We added to the team,” Riley told NBA.com. “And if you can add to your asset base and keep your future somewhat intact, which I really didn’t want to mess with too much, and add to that, then I think we’d be ahead of the game.”
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Creating Cap Space for Blockbuster Move
The Heat made a legitimate push for Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry at the deadline, but pulled out when the asking price got too high. Everyone did as the six-time All-Star stayed in Canada. However, there is a growing consensus that Riley could make a play for Lowry in the offseason.
Remember, the Heat can create $26 million in salary-cap space if they keep the restricted free-agent rights to Duncan Robinson ($4.7 million hold) and Kendrick Nunn ($4.7 million hold). That extra money could be used to entice a bigger star than Lowry, though.
Think much bigger. Kawhi Leonard or Bradley Beal could be in play, according to O’Connor, as two “Hail Mary” names to ponder. Leonard would be a long shot to leave the Los Angeles Clippers since he’s eligible to sign a five-year extension worth a projected $228 million. Plus, Los Angeles is his hometown.
Meanwhile, Beal is an unrestricted free agent and could decide he’s tired of losing. The Washington Wizards own the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 16-28. Here’s what O’Connor wrote:
There’s still a real chance Beal stays in Washington for years to come, but as the Wizards rack up losses, teams like the Heat are waiting to pounce. In addition to Miami, multiple league sources say the Celtics, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams with interest in pursuing a deal for Beal.One league source told me the sleeper team to watch in a Beal bidding war is the Raptors.
Goran Dragic Makes Heat Return Tonight
The Heat are also getting reinforcements to help them down the stretch this season. The team announced that veteran guard Goran Dragic (back) was available to play in tonight’s game versus the New York Knicks. Dragic has been out since March 19 and his veteran leadership has been missed.
Miami also updated the status for a few others players: Victor Oladipo (illness), Kendrick Nunn (ankle), Udonis Haslem (COVID-19 protocols) and KZ Okpala (COVID-19 protocols) are all out.
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