Miami Heat are laser-focused on how to successfully rebuild for next season and they have their heart set on nabbing a third big name to play alongside the core duo that is Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.
There are only a few All-Stars for whom the Heat would pull out all the stops to make a deal come to fruition, and at the top of that list is Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard.
According to The Ringer‘s Kevin O’Connor, the Heat are planning to “make a hard push to acquire Leonard, league sources say… Who wouldn’t want a 30-year-old two-time Finals MVP still performing at an All-NBA level?”
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The New York Knicks will also make a strong effort to obtain Leonard, according to O’Connor, and “Dallas is considered by some executives to be the most serious threat to land Kawhi because of Luka Doncic’s presence and the front office’s ability to create maximum cap space or work out a sign-and-trade.”
On June 10, Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson reported on Miami possibly doing a sign and trade for Leonard. “The Heat obviously would do that in a heartbeat if Leonard wanted that,” Jackson surmised.
As of now, Leonard has not commented on whether he will sign his $36 million player option and remain in Los Angeles. The six-time All-Star has until August 1 to make a final decision.
Leonard Has Long Desired to Play Alongside Butler
If Leonard opts out of Los Angeles, Heat’s Jimmy Butler will be a huge factor in getting him land in South Beach.
O’Connor reported, “Leonard tried to recruit Jimmy Butler to the Clippers before [Paul] George was acquired, so Miami could offer Kawhi an enticing chance to play with him. Though the Heat can’t create max cap space, they could always work out a sign-and-trade just like they did to acquire Butler from the Sixers in 2019.”
In addition to Leonard wanting to team up with Butler, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on SportsCenter that Miami has the financial upper hand in obtaining the superstar as the Heat have an estimated $20.4 million in practical cap space, according to Sportrac.
Leonard to the Heat Creates a Historic Big 3 in Miami
Leonard, who finished the regular season averaging 24.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, would elevate any franchise. If former two-time NBA Finals MVP wants to add a third championship ring to his collection, the odds of making that happen increase ten-fold by joining the Heat.
“Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler give him two co-stars instead of one, albeit they both turned in lamentable playoff performances this year,” Bleacher Report‘s Favale wrote. “Making it to the conference finals remains easier in the East than the West, so long as you don’t meet the Brooklyn Nets prior to Round 3. Miami is just as desirable a place to live as L.A.”
“Let’s say… that Leonard wants a co-star better than Playoff P, someone closer to Regular Season P, but in the postseason,” Favale continued. “Let’s then assume that Los Angeles is unable to materially upgrade the roster within its financial constraints, and that Leonard is willing to shop around, and that Miami doesn’t mind missing out on other free agents while lusting after this pie-in-the-sky play. The Heat, in that scenario, make a lot of sense.