The Heat are treating Kevin Durant like a long shot and concentrating their free agency efforts on keeping Hassan Whiteside, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami intends to make an offer to Durant, but Jackson says the team’s intentions were clear when president Pat Riley called Whiteside the priority this week.
Miami might have a better shot at signing an outside free agent next summer, Jackson writes, even if Whiteside returns at a max or near-max contract. Dwyane Wade can free up some money if he agrees to another one-year contract or a two-year deal with an opt out after one season. Even if Chris Bosh is able to keep playing and his $25.3MM counts against the Heat’s cap, the franchise could have about $26MM to use next summer, possibly closer to $32MM if it can find a taker for Josh McRoberts. That would be enough to re-sign Wade and add a player such as Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, Taj Gibson, Andre Iguodala, Tony Allen or J.J. Redick.
There’s more out of Miami:
- The Heat will gauge the trade market for McRoberts, but the front office recognizes his value in case Bosh can’t play, Jackson writes in the same story. Miami might prefer to keep Luol Deng, who filled in for Bosh this season, but the offers he will get in free agency might be more than Miami can afford. “When you watch players play with [McRoberts], who know how to play with him, they’re very effective,” Riley said. “… We’re still high on him. We’re praying all the time he stays healthy.”
- Joe Johnson may not stay with the Heat if he wants a quick decision in free agency, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman expects many variables to play out, including whether coach Erik Spoelstra wants to make Justise Winslow his starting small forward. If that happens, the Heat would prefer to add another shooter to the starting lineup, a role Bosh can fill if he’s healthy. The Heat may want to fill their salary cap with other players first and then offer Johnson its $2.9MM “room” mid-level exception. However, he could get a better offer from another team before that happens.
- After passing on Devin Booker to draft Winslow last year, the Heat need to concentrate on finding shooters this summer, Winderman contends in a separate piece. Their 7-for-25 performance from 3-point range in Game 7 against the Raptors underlined the need for improvement, but Spoestra said the team won’t be searching for just one skill. “Teams are built differently; teams can win in different ways,” he said. “… The most important thing is finding the best fits around the players you currently have, and can players bring out the best in each other?”