Amid an unsettled roster, finding a replacement for disgruntled superstar Dwyane Wade might be the Heat’s safest draft-day option.
If a financial agreement cannot be reached between Wade and the Heat soon, then a contingency plan could include using the team’s No. 10 pick in the NBA Draft to replace the 33-year-old superstar on the team’s roster. Wade is considered one of the top-five shooting guards in NBA history, so any scenario that involves him leaving Miami would greatly alter the Heat’s strategy for success next season. Under this backdrop, the Heat’s front office is preparing for Thursday’s draft while also sorting through an interlocking web of offseason scenarios and options.
In other words, these are busy times at 601 Biscayne Boulevard.
With a projected lineup loaded with talent and versatility next season, the crossroads of uncertainty and potential meet now for the Heat. The team has been under a fog ever since losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals, and the franchise is hoping Thursday’s draft, which includes a watch party for fans, will be the moment the sun peeks through the haze.
A depressing regular season ended more than two months ago but still the sting of embarrassment lingers for the Heat. Yes, there were enough injuries, illnesses, health scares and other excuses (Post-LeBron Shock Syndrome) to deflect away the blame, but nothing really washes out the stain of losing double-digit fourth-quarter leads to inferior competition during a playoff chase: 15 points to the Pistons, 16 points to the Bucks and how exactly did the Nets make the playoffs and the Heat did not?
Hey, at least LeBron lost, right?
As happy as the Cavaliers’ loss in the NBA Finals delighted some Heat fans (and team executives), reveling in the failure of others isn’t always the healthiest option. One way for the Heat to cure all that negativity would be by making a splashy move (or moves) on draft day.
The Heat most likely will take a conservative approach to the draft, but an unexpected twist is possible. That could include taking a chance on an athletic wing in the mold of Wade, or perhaps moving up the draft board to find a new starter.
Despite all of the saber rattling of the past few weeks, most NBA insiders still believe Wade is staying put in Miami. At 33, he could use a young and eager backup. And if Wade does indeed part ways with the Heat, then a young scorer becomes a priority.
The Heat has other needs — as detailed by the Miami Herald over the past two days — but no matter where talks go between Wade and the Heat, a new playmaker would help.
There are players expected to be available at No.10 who could potentially turn into the NBA’s next two-way star.
With a solid team expected to the return next season, the Heat could gamble in the hopes of unearthing a gem.
Kelly Oubre Jr., a 6-7 freshman from Kansas University, is an unknown quantity with great athleticism. Oubre was 9 years old when his family relocated from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. He averaged nearly 10 points and five rebounds last season for the Jayhawks.
Stanley Johnson, a freshman from the University of Arizona, is a versatile scorer. At 6-7, he’s considered one of the best all-around prospects of the draft and might be available when the Heat is on the clock. Johnson averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Moving down in the draft for more resources is also an option if the Heat wishes to continue its trend of building from within. Heat president Pat Riley and his team of executives and scouts have done well over the past year in identifying talent that other teams might have overlooked.
Justin Anderson, a junior from the University of Virginia, is another intriguing prospect the Heat might consider if the team trades down.
The 6-7 small forward arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia, as an attacking wing, but he developed into a consistent outside presence before declaring for the draft.
Another prospect the Heat has scouted is 6-9 forward Sam Dekker, the Wisconsin junior who made a name for himself during the NCAA Tournament. Dekker’s game might fit well with the offense coach Erik Spoelstra hopes to build around point guard Goran Dragic.
Dragic, of course, will become a free agent on July 1 after opting out of his existing contract Monday. Re-signing the coveted guard is a top priority but so is avoiding the worst possible scenario — losing Wade.
Wings of interest
Kelly Oubre Jr.
NBA Draft: 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN; Heat selections: First round (10th); Second round (40th).
NBA Draft order (Top 10): 1. Minnesota; 2. L.A. Lakers; 3. Philadelphia; 4. New York; 5. Orlando; 6. Sacramento; 7. Denver; 8. Detroit; 9. Charlotte; 10. Miami.