NBA Rumors: Top 5 Impact Free Agents for Heat to Target

pau gasol

Getty Former Lakers star Pau Gasol.

The Miami Heat decided not to field their G-League squad, Sioux Falls Skyforce, this season at the new “NBA Bubble” going on outside Atlanta. The noble concern was for player safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the move takes away a huge competitive advantage away from Erik Spoelstra’s squad.

The G-League will hold a draft on Jan. 11 and several veteran players have enlisted, including Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, Terrence Jones, Shabazz Muhammad, Emeka Okafor. And Jeremy Lin has already signed a deal to join the Golden State Warriors’ G-League affiliate.

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There has been whispers of the Heat “keeping an eye on” Stephenson but his checkered past, especially his recent feud with Jimmy Butler, would seem to kill those talks. Then again, Miami could use a talented, physical stretch four to pair with Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk in the front court. Stephenson — remember the infamous ear incident in 2014? — probably isn’t worth all the drama and baggage at the end of the day.

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Top 5 Players to Target in Free Agency

There are other options not named Stephenson for the Heat to look at in free agency. While none of the available players will provide the impact of a James Harden, they can certainly add depth to positions of need like point guard and power forward. Let’s take a look.

J.J. Barea: The 36-year-old made headlines for revealing Dirk Nowitzki’s true feelings on the Heat back in the days of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and maybe he did it to clear the air. The Dallas Mavericks released Barea last month, but the 14-year veteran isn’t ready to retire. He averaged 7.7 points and 3.9 assists in 29 minutes per game in a reserve role for Dallas. Barea, who eventually wants to pursue a coaching career, could help spell starter Goran Dragic while allowing Avery Bradley and Tyler Herro to play more two-guard.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: The former first-round pick (23rd overall) was unceremoniously waived by the Minnesota Timberwolves last month, a move that one plugged-in NBA columnist called a “mistake.” The knock on Hollis-Jefferson has long been over his poor offensive game — 9.3 points per contest for his career — but his yeoman’s work on the defensive end has long been applauded. The Heat are known for playing lock-down defense and Hollis-Jefferson would seem to fit in with their culture. The 26-year-old could form an interesting tandem with the more offensive-minded Olynyk.

Pau Gasol: The 40-year-old had been contemplating retirement but then reports surfaced of Gasol attempting a comeback as he gears up for one last Olympic run with the Spanish National Team. The six-time All-Star has mentioned returning to the Los Angeles Lakers this year as he continues to get his conditioning up. However, it hasn’t been an easy task for a guy coming off two major foot surgeries who hasn’t appeared in a game since March 2019. Gasol is the longest shot on the board, but there’s no denying his championship pedigree and veteran leadership would peak Pat Riley’s interest if he wanted to return.

Jamal Crawford: Another old gym rat who doesn’t appear ready to call it a career. Crawford, who recently complimented Heat legend Dwyane Wade, played just one game for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA Bubble, but he saw action in 64 games for the Phoenix Suns the year before while averaging 7.9 points per game (14.6 for his career). He can still heat up off the bench — shades of Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson — in small spurts. The 40-year-old is a three-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner.

Justin Anderson: Another lottery pick — 21st overall in 2015 — has had a tough go of it lately after failing to land permanent roster spots in two different stints with both the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers. Anderson boasts 6-11 wingspan and great close-out speed making him a hawk on the defensive end, plus he can play both the small forward and shooting guard spot. He showed flashes in a limited sample size (10 games) last year and enjoyed his best statistical season in 2016-17 when he averaged 8.5 points per game and shot 46.3% from the field. He’s a cheap, project player who just turned 27.


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