Heat Frontrunner For Kelly Oubre?

Teams around the league expect free agent wing Kelly Oubre to eventually sign with the Heat, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, who publishes his articles on Substack.

However, there’s an important caveat: Miami would need to trade for Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard first. As Stein writes, the Heat would likely have a hole on the wing if they can pull off a Lillard deal, and Oubre could help fill that void.

Oubre, 27, is the highest-ranked player left on our list of 2023’s top-50 free agents, coming in at No. 27. He averaged 20.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals on .431/.319/.760 shooting in 48 games (32.3 minutes) for Charlotte last season.

Unless they can shed a significant amount of salary, the Heat will be limited to a minimum-salary offer for Oubre, which would be just shy of $2.9MM for a player with his amount of experience (he just finished his eighth NBA season). That’s a significant pay cut — Oubre has earned $12MM or more in each of the past four seasons.

Miami isn’t expected to have access to the taxpayer mid-level exception (a maximum of $10.25MM over two years) due to its proximity to the second tax apron, and it used its bi-annual exception last season to sign Kevin Love. As the name implies, the bi-annual exception can’t be used in consecutive years.

Still, the fact that Oubre remains unsigned likely means there hasn’t been much of a market for him above the veteran’s minimum to this point — otherwise, he presumably would have landed with a team already. The Cavaliers and Mavericks are rumored to have shown some level of interest in the former first-round pick, but obviously nothing has come to fruition.

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