While the Miami Heat is only seven games into the 20202-2021 NBA Season, it’s notable that head coach Erik Spoelstra has already tried out six different lineups. With a 3-4 record, the Heat are not having the kind of start they expected following their historic NBA Finals run last season.
Is the key to finding the perfect lineup merely a matter of shuffling players around until a certain combo shows consistent success? However, with a shortened 72-game regular season, Miami doesn’t have all that much time to keep messing around.
Despite their depth of talent, according to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, the answer to Miami’s woes isn’t already sitting on their bench. The Heat needs to trade for some veteran talent and he believes Chicago Bulls star Otto Porter Jr. is just the ticket.
“While teams will surely do plenty of shuffling in this unique season, Miami’s scrambling has less to do with covering absences than it does reflecting the fact this roster never got around to replacing Jae Crowder in the offseason,” Buckley said.
What about Maurice Harkless? He “got a look and has three points in six games,” Buckley noted. “Meyers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk have both gotten chances, even though both have defensive issues and neither resided in coach Erik Spoelstra’s circle of trust last postseason.”
“Andre Iguodala is 36, Jimmy Butler is 31, and both are wings – they aren’t the long-term solution here, either,” Buckley continued. “ But maybe Otto Porter Jr. could do the trick.”
“He’s a top-shelf three-and-D option when healthy, and while he’s overpaid, his $28.5 million salary will come off the books at season’s end,” Buckley said, going as far to suggest that the Heat offer Kelly “Olynyk’s spacing and the defensive flexibility of a Harkless (or aging Iguodala) all in one.”
Buckley Says Porter Is Not in Chicago’s ‘Long-Term Plans’
While trading for James Harden looks to be a pipe dream at the moment, “ Porter should be obtainable,” Buckley said, “Chicago needs to clear the runway for No. 4 pick Patrick Williams (who plays the same position as Porter), whose arrival likely pushed Porter out of the organization’s long-term plans.”
“If the Bulls would accept something like Iguodala, Leonard, Kendrick Nunn and KZ Okpala, they’d walk away with a pair of prospects, while the Heat would finally have a playoff-ready starting power forward.”
While Porter dealt a laundry of list of injuries last season, he appears to finally be healthy in 2021. In nine games, the 27-year-old is averaging 14 points, 6.9 rebounds, and two assists. The former Washington Wizards star is shooting 43.6 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the line.
But What About Harden?
The rumors of Harden to Miami have been swirling for months. On December 31, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said, “The Heat leaked that they’re out of the Harden sweepstakes probably because they’re trying to cool down the race for Harden. They don’t want Boston and Philly thinking they’re bidding against them.”
Oddly enough, Windhorst was also one of the first journalists to report the Heat were no longer pursuing Harden and noting that discussions between Miami and Houston were never serious.
Most recently, the Miami Herald‘s Barry Jackson reported the Heat are prepared to part with a first-round pick in 2025 along with some “young players” if a Harden deal materializes.
While Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn’s names have been mentioned as being on the trading block, a new report names Olynyk and Iguodala as possible trade pieces from a salary cap standpoint.