It’s no secret the Miami Heat has a predicament at the power forward spot, no offense to Kelly Olynyk, of course. The eight-year veteran is a steadying presence with an all-around game, albeit not a dominating one.
The team is sorely missing Jae Crowder’s production and head coach Erik Spoelstra seems intent on bringing first-round pick Precious Achiuwa along slowly. So all signs are pointing to a deadline deal for the fast-fading Heat in order to tread water in the Eastern Conference. They sat in 13th place with a 7-13 record heading into Wednesday night’s game. Not good enough.
“We gotta guard our yard,” center Bam Adebayo said. “It’s just boiling down to defense at this point. Our defense has to be so good that we can have a bad shooting night and still win. Our past couple of games I feel like we’ve been banking on our offense so much to get us over the hump, we gotta get stops.”
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Top 5 Power Forward Options for Heat
There is a myriad of options that might be available at the trade deadline on March 25. Miami’s biggest hurdle will be a lack of assets since they do not have any second-round picks to trade until 2025 while their future first-rounders are dependent on Oklahoma City. They might not have a first-round pick to offer until 2027. But let’s turn to the positives and examine some possible defensive reinforcements:
LaMarcus Aldridge: The seven-time All-Star might not be what he used to be, but it doesn’t matter. Aldridge is still averaging 14.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game for the Spurs. At 6-foot-11, he is an intimidating presence inside the paint who has decent range from deep (35.8%) and — more importantly — an expiring $24 million contract. Plus, Heat president Pat Riley showed interest in Aldridge back in 2015.
PJ Tucker: He’s been mentioned multiple times in this space, a savvy veteran who does all the little things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. The 35-year-old power forward has also been one of the most durable players in the league during his 11-year NBA career (673 games). He’s a lock-down defender and willing three-point shooter. However, the Rockets are looking to acquire an insane return for Tucker — three second-round picks, per ESPN — and the cupboard is bare in Miami.
Thaddeus Young: The former 12th overall pick from the 2007 draft been traded three times in his 14-year career. Crazy to think when you look at the year he’s having in 2021. Young is averaging 10.3 points while pulling down 5.4 rebounds and dishing out 4.4 assists per game. He also ranks second in charges taken with eight. His contract features only $6 million of $14.2 million guaranteed next season, per Spotrac. What’s the problem? Every contender is going to be clamoring for Young’s services.
Kevin Love: This would certainly be a “turn back the clock” type of move for the oft-injured power forward. Love has been dealing with a nagging calf strain all year as rival executives have questioned his “passion for the game.” The 32-year-old is averaging 9.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists in two games. Maybe he just needs a change of scenery, right? His good friend LeBron James knows all about what going from Cleveland to Miami can do for you. The Heat would have to talk the Cavaliers down from a first-rounder in return, though.
Aaron Gordon: The Magic forward recently suffered a sprained left ankle that will keep him out four to six weeks. The 6-foot-8 human highlight reel would be a bit of a gamble for the Heat but that could be a blessing in disguise. Why? The asking price should be way down. Gordon is averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists per game this year. It could be worth a shot and Orlando should be sellers at the deadline. The 25-year-old is due $34 million over the next two years.