Miami Heat a ‘Favorite’ to Make Massive Trade for 14-Time All-Star: NBA Execs

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likely could handle Kevin Durant.

Getty Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likely could handle Kevin Durant.

In the wake of the Suns’ destruction at the hands of the Timberwolves in the opening round of the playoffs this week, and with the Miami Heat doing their best to keep up with Boston in their Eastern Conference first-rounder, the notion that both franchises could be on the brink of major changes lingers. The tax-ravaged Suns might have little choice but to alleviate themselves of a star player (and the attached salary) while the Heat are expected to be very much on the hunt for a star.

It’s not difficult to link the two, then: How about Kevin Durant, starting forward for Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat?

This would be a logical conclusion to a connection that goes back nearly two years now between the Heat and Durant, back to when Durant first lodged his trade request with the Nets just ahead of the start of free agency in 2022. The Heat were one of the teams most interested in dealing for him.

It didn’t happen then. But in the coming months, maybe that will change.

“There are a few teams that should come up,” one Western Conference executive said of potential Durant trade partners. “The Heat would be a favorite.”

Kevin Durant at the Top of His Game

Around the NBA, there has been plenty of speculation about what might next happen with Durant, as the Suns—more than $100 million over the salary cap already for next season—seek to find a way to undo their ill-advised star-player mash-up, with Bradley Beal (no trade cause) and Devin Booker (franchise cornerstone) staying put.

Durant is still at the top of his game, put if he were to leave Phoenix, he would be on his fourth team in five years, raising red flags about his disposition and ability to fit with a team. That might be an advantage for the Miami Heat, though.

“He makes you nervous because as good as he is, he now has some baggage and it is easy to blame everyone else for what has happened in his last few stops, but at some point you start to say, ‘Wait, he is the common factor here,’” one Eastern Conference GM said. “There are a lot of teams that he’d be a great fit, maybe all of them, right? He is that good.”

The baggage is a worry, though.

“You have to ask, ‘How much of this baggage is his, how much is just the bad circumstances he was in?’ Because it seems like a long time since Kevin was happy as a player,” the GM wondered. “He’s disgruntled all the time. So then you have to ask, ‘If he is unhappy, can we take it, do we have the coach and the locker room to shrug that stuff off?’

“That is a question you have to ask with him now. It is not going to be ‘Yes’ for every team and that would limit his market.”

Of all the teams in the league, the Heat no doubt have the locker room and coach to make things work with Durant.

Miami Heat Would Trade Tyler Herro, More

Not to mention the need and the assets. The Heat are probably facing the reality of one last run with Jimmy Butler, who has been out since the first play-in game with a knee injury, in the next couple of years. They’ll need someone who can help take advantage of Butler skillset, and Durant is the ideal complement.

A trio of Butler-Durant and Bam Adebayo at the Heat’s core is championship-caliber.

It would be costly, though. The Heat would have to give up Tyler Herro for starters, and probably Terry Rozier as well. Second-year forward Nikola Jovic would have to be part of the deal, as well as at least one future first-round pick—probably two, depending on the other offers the Suns get.

Still, Durant is one of the most dangerous scorers in the NBA, averaging 27.1 points on 50% shooting last year, when he made his 14th All-Star team. He is 6-foot-11, able to play all three wing positions and providing switchability on defense. Yes, he is not always the most pleasant guy but at the same time, who better to accentuate his positives and eliminate his negatives than Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat?

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