Heat Forward Breaks Silence on Miami’s Aggressive Pursuit for Kevin Durant

Max Strus, Kevin Durant

Getty Miami Heat forward Max Strus (L) is the first roster member to discuss the possibility of Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant (R) landing in South Beach.

Nearly three weeks have passed since Nets superstar Kevin Durant requested a trade out of Brooklyn, a move that sent shockwaves throughout the league since it was just last summer that the 12-time All-Star signed a four-year $194 million contract extension with the franchise, which was set to kick in during the 2022-23 NBA season.

Immediately afterward, the Miami Heat was named as one of the top “wish list” destinations for the 33-year-old power forward, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, which was exciting news considering team president Pat Riley and company have been trying to land Durant since free agency in 2016.

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While things appear to remain in a holding pattern as Miami and other contending teams work to put a monster offer to send to Brooklyn, Wojnarowski reported on July 12, that the Heat’s pursuit of Durant remains aggressive.

For certain Heat players, in particular, Tyler Herro, hearing about these rumored trade packages could be unsettling as it could mean they will soon be suiting up for a different team. However, forward Max Strus, the first Heat player to speak about the Durant sweepstakes this summer, is “excited” about the possible blockbuster move.

During a visit to the Heat’s youth camp at the FTX Arena on Tuesday, July 19, “I try not to get too into it,” Strus said of the Durant trade rumors, as reported by Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “Obviously you see it, and people ask you about it. But I’ll wait until it happens. If something happens, it happens. If something happens, it happens.”

“But, yeah, how can you not want a guy like Kevin Durant? He’s a once-in-a-generation type player and great player in the game and one of the best of all time. I’m excited to see what happens and I hope the best for him and the best for our team. That’s all that really matters.”

Strus Is Also Looking Forward to Running it Back Next Season

If things don’t pan out for Durant and Miami, Strus, who went from going undrafted out of DePaul in 2019 to a fixture in the Heat’s starting lineup during the 2022 playoffs, is also excited to run it back.

Save for P.J. Tucker leaving to join the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Heat’s latest first-round draft pick, Nikola Jovic, Miami’s roster will be identical to last season if a blockbuster trade doesn’t take place.

“We’re bringing back a good majority of the people we had on our team, so I think people get used to selling us short,” Strus said on Tuesday. “We hear that every summer. And we use it as momentum. So I’m excited for this group and to get it together with the guys in training camp and see what we have. And I think returning these guys and what we got back, I think we’ll be alright.”

However, the 26-year-old forward is mainly focused on improving his own game to keep his spot in the starting lineup. “Because the minute you settle and live in that moment, you’ll get passed up on. So every day you’ve got to earn that respect and earn that position. That doesn’t come easily in the NBA,” Strus said.

“So I understand that and I’m still working hard to keep proving myself and to be a long-time starter in the NBA.”

The Heat Are Urged to Trade for Donovan Mitchell Instead of Durant

While the Heat remain focused on Durant, ESPN’s NBA Insider Kevin Pelton recently urged Miami to dedicate all their time and energy on landing Utah Jazz’s three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell instead.

“Durant turns 34 in September, which puts him in the same range as Miami starters Jimmy Butler (33 in September) and Kyle Lowry (36),” Pelton wrote. “By contrast, the 25-year-old Mitchell would reset the Heat’s timeline and align it with 24-year-old center Bam Adebayo. And if Miami doesn’t think the Nets will ultimately trade Durant, this might be its best chance to land a third star while [Jimmy] Butler is in his late prime.”

Despite his age, Durant remains one of the best players in the NBA. Last season, the 6-foot-10 forward averaged 29.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, while shooting 51.8% from the field and 38.3% from beyond the arc.

As for Mitchell, the 6-foot-1 guard averaged 25.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 1.5 steals per game last season.

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