While the Heat didn’t make a deal for Kyle Lowry at last week’s trade deadline, their acquisition of Victor Oladipo and their salary cap situation put them in a good spot, says Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. As O’Connor explains, Miami will get a shot to evaluate Oladipo for the rest of the season before deciding whether or not to re-sign him. If they opt to let Oladipo go, the Heat are in position to open up enough cap room to make a serious run at Lowry.
Of course, Pat Riley and the Heat may prefer to go after a higher caliber of star than the 35-year-old Lowry. But it doesn’t look right now as if there will be many available this offseason, O’Connor notes. That could change if Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who shut down trade speculation all season, eventually reconsiders his stance.
As O’Connor writes, Beal still might be the most realistic target for teams seeking a superstar, since he’ll be on an expiring contract in 2021/22. Sources tell The Ringer that Beal’s decision to remain in D.C. for at least the rest of this season was motivated in part by wanting to get through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic before making any life-altering decisions.
Beal has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to Washington, so even after the pandemic – and with his free agency nearing – he still may not want to be dealt. But teams are continuing to monitor that situation. According to O’Connor, the Heat, Celtics, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams interested in pursuing Beal, with the Raptors also looming as a possible sleeper.
Here’s more from around the NBA’s Southeast:
- Daniel Gafford had a strong Wizards debut on Saturday, racking up 13 points, five rebounds, and three blocks in just 14 minutes, impressing his teammates and head coach Scott Brooks. “He had just a fantastic game. It was a great first game for him,” Brooks said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “We’re going to keep working with him. He’s definitely a keeper. He has a chance to be good for a lot of years with his skill set.”
- Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said on Friday that his team will monitor the buyout market, though he acknowledged that the top players to shake loose may not have Charlotte atop their wish lists, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Kupchak also conceded that the team will need to address its center position this offseason at the latest. “Since Cody (Zeller) and Biz (Bismack Biyombo) are both going to be free agents, that would be an area of concern going forward,” Kupchak said. “This summer they’re going to have options and we may or may not have options. That is, and was, a focus (of trade talks).”
- Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter is dealing with some swelling in his surgically repaired knee. While GM Travis Schlenk downplayed the issue, a medical expert who spoke to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic believes it could be something Hunter has to deal with for the rest of the season.