Former ‘Process’ Era Lottery Pick Is on Heat’s Trade ‘Radar’: Report

Dario Saric Joel Embiid Ben Simmons

Getty Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric look on during a 2018 playoff bout between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Boston Celtics.

The Miami Heat followed the opening salvo of the NBA trade deadline that was the Kyrie Irving deal with a small volley of their own. As confirmed by the team on Tuesday afternoon, the Heat have traded veteran center Dewayne Dedmon and a second-round pick in 2028 to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for cash.

Although that move in and of itself won’t immediately improve Miami’s cap situation or help out on the court, it did open up another roster spot for the club. Moreover, the writing had been on the wall for Dedmon’s Heat career for some time.

“The Mechanic” had appeared in just two games for the Heat since January 7. And his final showing on Saturday — during which he scored zero points on 0-of-4 shooting while committing three fouls in just 12 minutes of play — didn’t exactly inspire confidence in his ability to reclaim the a spot in Erik Spoelstra’s rotation.

With Dedmon out of the picture, however, the Heat could probably use another big body (and preferably one with floor-stretching capabilities), even as Omer Yurtseven is nearing a return and Orlando Robinson is outplaying his two-way station. To that end, the team was just linked to a former lottery pick and recent Finals participant.

Barry Jackson: The Heat Have Discussed the Merits of Trading for Phoenix Suns F/C Dario Saric

Dario Saric vs Charlotte Hornets | Jan 24, 202319 PTS 8 REB 3 AST Dario Saric vs Charlotte Hornets Charlotte Hornets vs Phoenix Suns2023-01-25T07:26:57Z

With just a couple of days remaining until the Association’s February 9 trade deadline, the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported that the Heat are indeed looking to add something up front. “Ideally a power forward with size who could play alongside Bam Adebayo when Caleb Martin is on the bench or offer another option when Adebayo is resting,” he wrote.

And while the baller wasn’t namechecked in that report, Jackson later hit the tweet machine with an addendum identifying Phoenix Suns forward-center Dario Saric as a target. Specifically, Jackson reported that the 28-year-old was “on Miami’s radar.”

Saric — who was drafted 12th overall by the Philadelphia 76ers at the dawn of Sam Hinkie’s “Process” in 2014 — has been in and out of the rotation in Phoenix this season after losing all of 2021-22 to an ACL tear. In games played since January 10, however, the 6-foot-10 big man has averaged 9.4 points and 5.7 rebounds in 19.5 minutes per game. Along the way, he has been a 43.8% three-point shooter as well.

There is one potential hang-up in the event that the Heat do decide to make a trade play for the Croatian floor-spacer, however.

Saric’s Salary Makes a Straight-Across Trade Difficult to Pull Off

Saric’s contract isn’t cumbersome in the long-term, as he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. However, his $9.2 million salary for 2022-23 is problematic for the Heat as currently constituted. As noted by Jackson, Miami lacks similarly-sized deals for salary-matching in a trade scenario.

Victor Oladipo’s $8.8 million number is in the right vicinity, but the former All-Star is currently holding down an important role in the Miami’s backcourt. Moreover, his $9.5 million player option for next season probably isn’t something that the Suns are interested in taking on.

If there’s a three-way deal or a trade involving more players that the Heat can execute to balance the money out, though, Saric could be a nice option for them. Through six NBA seasons, he’s averaging 11.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest and making 35.9% from deep.

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