With the NBA trade deadline looming on February 9, the Heat are as “active as anybody,” according to league executives, with Miami not only looking to upgrade in the frontcourt, but anywhere else on the roster, too.
Power forward is the most obvious target, with the Heat losing P.J. Tucker in the offseason and playing 6-foot-5 Caleb Martin as the starter at the spot this season. Martin has played well, but there is concern that the team’s lack of size will sink them in the playoffs. Thus, as Yahoo’s Jake Fischer reported, Miami has an interest in Timberwolves point guard D’Angelo Russell.
But bolstering up front is still Miami’s priority. They had discussions with Atlanta about John Collins that have since gone dormant, a deal that would potentially send Duncan Robinson and Martin to the Hawks (perhaps with a protected draft pick). Those talks could be rekindled, though there is concern among some with the Heat that Collins and star big man Bam Adebayo would not be a great fit.
The Heat have also had ongoing interest in Suns forward Jae Crowder, who is sitting out the season as he awaits a trade.
“They have a standing offer to the Suns, as I understand it,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “Phoenix wants to bring things closer to the deadline, to see if someone gets desperate, to see if they could do better or get Miami to add a pick. The Heat are going to do something big, and adding Crowder is probably the starting point, like the least thing they would do.”
The Suns earlier rejected an offer of Robinson for Crowder, and that is not likely to have changed. Martin, then, would be the most likely candidate to head to Phoenix, and center Dewayne Dedmon could be added to make the salaries work and keep Miami under the luxury tax.
Kendrick Nunn Lakers’ ‘Best Trade Piece’
When Kendrick Nunn logged more than 14 minutes on January 4, it marked the start of a string in which he’s played 12-plus minutes for seven straight games, his longest such streak since May 2021. Nunn has been helped by the fact that both Lonnie Walker IV (knee) and Austin Reaves (hamstring) are out for at least two weeks with injuries, but the Lakers figure to have an added benefit from his return to action—Nunn is gaining traction as a trade target.
“He could help someone,” one executive told Heavy Sports. “But they need to show he is healthy. He’s got a very manageable contract ($5.25 million, expiring this summer) and they’re dying for size on that team. They’re not going to trade LeBron (James) or Anthony Davis obviously, so the best package they can put out there is Nunn and (Patrick) Beverley and one of their picks (in 2027 or 2029). Honestly, he is their best trade piece right now.”
Nunn missed all of last season with a nagging knee injury. Over his last seven games, he has averaged 11.4 points in 20.3 minutes. One big obstacle to moving him: He is a free agent this summer, as is Beverley, and teams are reluctant to give up much in a deal for either.
The Lakers have been pushing to acquire little-used Knicks wing Cam Reddish, and word is that Nunn would be a chip in that deal, with a third team potentially involved.
Bulls’ Zach LaVine Has ‘Red Flags’
“Tumbleweeds,” is how one league executive described activity coming out of Chicago, where the Bulls are 20-24 and stopped their three-game losing streak by beating the Warriors on Sunday. If there was any hope that the team’s poor showing in the first half would lead to a trade-deadline fire sale, that hope is fading.
The biggest move out of Chicago could be a trade of guard Alex Caruso, because he has value around the NBA and the team is deep with guards (or will be, if/when Lonzo Ball returns). “Outside of Caruso, pretty much everyone on their roster has some kind of red flag,” one Western Conference exec said. “Too old, hitting free agency, underachieving, something. They could get an immediate return for Caruso, though.”
The red flags include those around star wing Zach LaVine, whose offseason contract—worth $215 million over five years—would scare off many a front office. The Bulls have not put him on the market, but if they did want to trade LaVine, his injury history would be an issue, too. LaVine tore his ACL in 2017, and has dealt with persistent problems in the knee since. He missed 15 games last season, and sat out the first two games of this year because of pain in the knee.
“If you are giving someone $45 million a year, you better make sure he is not going to have his knee break down on you,” one West GM said. “Watch (LaVine) play, you can see he does not attack the basket like he used to, he does not dunk as much. Still a really good finisher but not as aggressive as he used to be.
“If they tried to trade him now, there would be only a handful of teams interested, because we would not be willing to take that gamble on his health, not at that money. He has the red flags, too.”