Ideal Superstar to Pair With Jimmy Butler Could Be Emerging for Heat

Jimmy Butler

Getty Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have a 3-2 lead over the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

The 2023 NBA Playoffs have been a showcase for Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler, who is second in postseason scoring, averaging 31.9 points a game.

The Heat currently hold a 3-2 series lead over the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals after knocking out the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Butler averaged over 37 points a game against Milwaukee, almost single-handedly pushing Miami to victory in the series.

While the Heat’s stellar defense will keep the team in most games, Butler has been Miami’s leading scorer, and not one member of the Heat is netting 20 points a game in the playoffs (center Bam Adebayo is scoring 17.6 points a game and Gabe Vincent is averaging 12 points). The one game Butler hasn’t played in the postseason, the Heat lost (Game 2 against the Knicks, 105-111) and at least one analyst is pushing for Miami to make a blockbuster addition this summer that could put them over the top.

Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report selected one “dream trade target for every organization,” and for the Heat, Buckley chose Washington Wizards superstar Bradley Beal.

Bradley Beal to Heat Is an Idea That Keeps Getting Tossed Around

Considering how far Miami has come with its current roster, adding a player like Beal to the mix could take the team over the top. Adebayo and forward Tyler Herro both averaged more than 20 points a game during the regular season, but Herro has missed the bulk of the playoffs after breaking his hand. If Beal were to come aboard, Herro would likely be shipped off.

The idea of a Beal-Heat pairing isn’t a new one. Rumors circulated surrounding a possible Beal-to-Miami trade in 2022 and continued months later.  Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported in February 2023 that Miami attempting to add Beal this summer was possible and now, Buckley is adding fuel to the fire.

“Sending Bradley Beal to South Beach isn’t a novel idea, but that’s fine,” Buckley admitted in his May 10 column. “He has long loomed as a logical trade target and still looms as one today. Before the postseason tipped off—activating Jimmy Butler’s playoff mode and turning the shooters into flame-throwers—the Miami Heat were hurting for offense. During the regular season, they managed just 112.3 points per 100 possessions, the worst scoring rate among all postseason participants (play-in teams included). The Heat are hurting for both shot-creators and shot-makers, and Beal just happens to have his expertise in those fields.”

Recent Shakeups With Wizards Could Mean Beal Is Expendable

Beal averaged 30.9 points a game over the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons, and his scoring has gone down a bit in recent years. The 6-foot-4, 207-pound shooting guard scored 23.2 points a game in each of the last two seasons, and he turns 30 this summer, making him an older and slightly more risky investment than the 23-year-old Herro.

Still, if Miami wanted to see what it could get for Herro on the trade block while adding Beal, this summer may be the time to do it.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis recently parted ways with former general manager Tommy Sheppard in April 2023, and at least one insider covering the Wizards thinks Beal may be on his way out the door.

“I gotta think one of the first thing that they’re gonna do is get rid of Bradley Beal,” Thom Loverro of The Washington Times told Team 980 AM on April 20. “I think that’s No. 1 on the agenda of the new general manager because this isn’t working. It’s not gonna work. He hasn’t been able to stay on the court these last two seasons. He’s the highest paid player in the history of Washington D.C. And he’s not your foundation. He’s a piece. You can’t spend that much money on a piece.”

Beal is certainly pricey. He has four years remaining on his five-year, $251-million deal and is due over $46.7 million next season alone (contract numbers via Spotrac). Herro will cost $27 million in 2023-24, so Miami might be better off letting the Beal rumors die off.

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