Heat Could Target Two-Time All-Star in Swap for Embattled Marksman: Exec

Giannis DeMar DeRozan Nikola Vucevic

Getty DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic double-team Giannis Antetokounmpo during a playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks.

We’re already into late August and the Miami Heat — who seemingly couldn’t afford to simply run it back next season — are getting dangerously close to running it back.

Heat president Pat Riley has been hot on the trail of stars like Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell on the trade market, but the team’s dearth of trade assets has hindered his ability to actually get something done. Still, if Miami hopes to improve on last season’s East Finals disappointment, something has to give.

That said, there’s also a chance that the Heat aren’t actually that far away from reclaiming the Larry O’Brien Trophy. After all, they were basically a Jimmy Butler errant three away from advancing to the Finals, even as Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry dealt with injuries.

It may not be necessary to add a KD-type to the mix in order to get over the hump. And if the Heat were to aim slightly lower, they’d almost certainly have a better opportunity to get a deal done as well.

To that end, one East executive has an idea about who the team could target as an alternative to a mega-star.


Exec Floats High-Scoring Pivot


Nikola Vucevic DOESN'T MISS! 🤯 Notches 30 PTS & 14 REB while shooting 100% from 3!Nikola Vucevic dropped a 30 PTS & 14 REB double-double with 5 AST on 12-19 FG with 6-6 3PM as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Charlotte Hornets, 133-119 ✔️Subscribe to ESPN+ espnplus.com/youtube ✔️ Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn ✔️Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ✔️ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoNBAonESPN ✔️ Watch…2021-11-30T04:00:32Z

In speaking with Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney, the exec namechecked Chicago Bulls big man and two-time NBA All-Star Nikola Vucevic as a trade possibility for Riley and Co.

“There are not a lot of teams actively looking for big guys now, especially frontline big guys. I think once the season gets going, if there is an injury, maybe that gets revisited. But probably the only team — and we’d have to see how things shake out there — is Miami,” the exec said. “They wanted to make a big move, and they did not, not yet.”

As the exec sees it, the Heat could facilitate a Vucevic move without having to go out and obtain extra picks. Moreover, they could dump an increasingly ugly contract in the process.

“The Bulls had some interest in Duncan Robinson before and if the Heat really wanted Vuc, that could be the basis of a deal, Vuc for Robinson. The Heat would have to add [Omer] Yurtseven, give Chicago a big guy to work with. And the Bulls would probably want them to take back Tony Bradley just to have a little more money under the tax in case they want to add a guy.”

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Vuc Addresses a Need

The Heat were one of the more offensively-challenged contenders during postseason play in 2022, ranking eighth among the playoff bunch with an O-rating of 110.7. Meanwhile, they were 13th in three-point percentage (at 31.3) and 10th in three-point makes per contest (10.9).

Vucevic could usher in a reversal of fortunes for the team in those areas, having averaged 17.6 points per contest last season and being just one year removed from nailing 40% of his triples (on 6.3 attempts per outing).

The 6-foot-10 center is also a willing/able passer on the block, which one should be on a team with weapons like Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Herro, Victor Oladipo, et al. Before last season, he had a four-year streak (from 2017 to 2021) of averaging four-plus assists per 36 minutes.

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