Miami Heat president Pat Riley promised there would be “a lot of news coming” at his end-of-year Zoom call with reporters. The franchise is expected to shore up a few key areas and perceived weaknesses in the offseason, specifically at the point guard position.
It’s not that Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn aren’t good enough, it’s more a matter of going all-in on a championship run before Jimmy Butler’s window starts closing. The core nucleus appears to be set with Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, maybe Duncan Robinson. After that, everything is on the table.
One name that keeps getting linked to the Heat is four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker. The Boston Celtics star watched his usage rate drop to 27.6 after being at a career-high 33.3 back in 2019. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the new cornerstones in Beantown.
That means Walker might be expendable via a blockbuster trade. The Athletic’s David Aldridge recently appeared on the Celtics Beat podcast where he discussed Walker’s future in detail. The plugged-in reporter mentioned the Miami Heat or Toronto Raptors as ideal landing spots. He made it clear the comments were pure speculation and cited no sources. Here is what he said:
It’s a high cost, but it’s a fixed cost. I know what I’m gonna pay. Yeah, that makes sense for me with the group they have. Miami, same thing, makes sense. [Goran] Dragic is on his way out. They’ll probably re-sign him for short money. But they need a point guard long-term, and Kemba’s pretty good. So, there’s suitors. There’s teams where it makes sense to go get Kemba Walker.
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‘Disgruntled’ Walker Ready to Ditch Boston
Walker can see the writing on the wall after posting his lowest points-per-game average (19.3) since 2015. There are just not enough basketballs to go around in Boston right now. Besides, which player would you rather have taking the last shot: Walker or Tatum? According to Bleacher Report, a “mutual shakeup” between Walker and the Celtics organization has been discussed. In fact, Boston attempted to swap Walker for Jrue Holiday last year.
A source close to Walker said he was hurt by Boston’s efforts to trade him, which created a rift in the Walker-Ainge relationship. Walker has a great relationship with his teammates and looked forward to being a veteran mentor to Tatum and Brown, but the same can’t be said about Walker and the front office. He no longer feels wanted.
The problem for the Heat is they don’t have the draft capital to trade with only a 2024 second-rounder eligible to be dealt. Walker’s situation is unique in that the aging guard — he’ll turn 32 years old in May — carries a huge contract of $73 million over the next two years. If Boston is simply trying to move on from their “depressed asset” then maybe the Celtics would be open to a sweetheart deal. It’s worth a shot.
Riley Promised to Make Splash This Offseason
Riley has never been one to sit on his hands and this offseason should be no different. The Heat will have an estimated $25 million in cap space to play with this summer. The savvy front-office executive hinted at making big moves all year, that is if he’s still guiding the ship. There have been rumors of Riley possibly stepping down, although the 76-year-old didn’t sound like a man ready to retire when he addressed the media back on June 3.
“I’m getting ready for the [draft combine] and then the summer league,” Riley told reporters. “I’m ready to move forward and try to make this team better. For all of our fans out there, it was so great to see the place packed and I’m really disappointed our fans didn’t get to see what the Heat really are like.”