The Heat are attempting to trade up from the 26th overall pick to land Shabazz Napier, reports Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Twitter link). LeBron James believes the former Connecticut Huskie is the best point guard in the draft, according to Ford, suggesting the soon-to-be free agent is heavily influencing Miami’s thinking on this front. The Heat, with little available trade assets given that Norris Cole is the team’s only player on a guaranteed contract for next season, will try to package Cole and the 26th pick to move into the late teens, Ford tweets. The Heat are open to a number of scenarios, including trading their pick for a veteran, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports (on Twitter).
Heat president Pat Riley is, like James, a fan of Napier’s, Ford writes in his full piece. He flew to meet Napier and work him out right after the Finals and tried to convince him to halt his workouts with other clubs to enhance the chances of him falling to No. 26, according to Ford. That almost certainly won’t happen, as the Magic, who hold the 12th pick, as well as the Hawks (15th), Bulls (16th and 19th), and Celtics (17th) are giving serious consideration to drafting Napier, Ford hears, adding that it’s unlikely he slides past the Raptors at No. 21.
The Heat have the non-guaranteed contract of Justin Hamilton to throw into their proposal, but every other player is ineligible, since they all either have pending options or are entering free agency. They wouldn’t be able to officially give up the No. 26 pick in a trade until they use it to select a player on Thursday, since they’ve already traded away next year’s first-rounder.