The Miami Heat have already been linked to numerous possible free agents following their early exit from the playoffs, but a name that continues to pop up as a top target is Dallas Mavericks’ Tim Hardaway Jr., whose father, Tim Hardaway Sr., was a huge star for the franchise between 1996 and 2001.
According to Five Reasons Sports Network‘s Greg Sylvander and Brady Hawk, there’s a strong mutual interest between the 29-year-old guard and the Heat.
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“As the beginning of free agency gets closer and closer, I can report that Tim Hardaway Jr is intrigued by the idea of landing in Miami and would love to join the Heat, a league source tells Five Reasons,” Sylvander reported. “However, the timing of free agency and contract details are perceived as likely challenges by Hardaway and his camp, according to the same sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”
Hardaway finished the 2020-21 NBA season averaging 16.6 points per game and shooting 39.1% from beyond the line.
There’s ‘No Doubt’ Hardaway Would Improve the Heat’s Offense
While Hardaway “has excellent chemistry with Dallas star Luka Doncic, which should prompt the team to keep him in the fold,” the 6-foot-6 established himself as one of the best shot-makers this season and is due for a massive pay raise, According to Bleacher Report‘s Eric Pincus.
“Hardaway earned almost $19 million last season,” Pincus said. “He could get a raise if other teams try to pluck him from the Mavericks. If not, perhaps he returns for a slight discount in the first year of a new, long-term deal.”
If Dallas isn’t able to pony up the cash, as the Mavericks are expected to offer Doncic a supermax contract extension worth $200 million this summer, Pincus listed the Heat as a “theoretical destination” for the guard. As it stands right now, Miami has the cap space to take on Hardaway’s expected $15 to $20 million starting salary.
Sylvander agrees that South Beach would be a great landing sport for Hardaway if Miami isn’t able to nab a big name like Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, or Damian Lillard.
The Miami Heat simply have certain priorities this off-season, including a possible point guard and front-court pairing, but if some of those things fizzle out, it’s a great fall-back plan. How much does he elevate the current Heat roster? Well, that’s a different story, since it matters what you’re losing out on to fulfill the signing of Hardaway Jr, but there’s no doubt it improves the team on the offensive end of the floor.
Bleacher Report First Linked Hardaway Jr. to the Heat in May
On May 18, Bleacher Report‘s Jake Fischer named the Heat as one of the top teams to steal “Sixth Man of the Year” candidate away from the Mavericks during the offseason.
Fischer’s listed the Michigan alum as one of the “under-the-radar” free agenst players expected to get a huge payday, noting how the Heat have “the ability to clear upward of $20-plus million in cap space come August.”
“Only so many players can take up so much cap room,” one veteran cap expert told Bleacher Report. “And some guys are going to get left out. But there will be a few guys who get big numbers that make your eyes pop.” And Hardaway, 29, is one of those players.
Fischer pointed out the guard is “finishing his second straight campaign above 39% shooting from deep– nearly 5 percentage points above likely 6MOY Jordan Clarkson — right in time for free agency.”
“He’s one of the best pure scorers in the league,” a personnel evaluator told Bleacher Report. “He can just move the scoreboard when he gets into the game. I think Dallas is using him in the role that most high-level teams would want to use him, the way that Utah’s weaponized Clarkson off the bench. He could start for a lot of teams, but because he’s a high-usage guy, he’s better off the bench.”