What we’re hearing, regarding the Heat, hours away from Thursday’s NBA Draft:
• Don’t be surprised if the Heat looks at a power rotation player at No. 14, even more so if Duke shooting guard Luke Kennard and Louisville combo guard Donovan Mitchell are off the board. We’ve heard Charlotte heavily linked to Mitchell at 11, and many expect Kennard to be gone by 14.
We’ve previously mentioned Heat interest in UCLA’s T.J. Leaf, the sweet-shooting power forward who shot 61.7 percent overall and 41.6 percent on threes (27 for 58) in his one year in college.
We’ve also mentioned Heat appreciation for the skills and upside of Gonzaga center Zach Collins, who would be highly appealing is he falls to 14th. He has the diverse skill set and three-point range (10 for 21 on college threes) to play some alongside Hassan Whiteside.
Never miss a local story.
But our sense is the Heat may be inclined to also consider a few other bigs beyond Leaf if Zach Collins is gone.
Don’t discount Texas’ Jarrett Allen and Creighton’s Justin Patton. The Heat is believed to be intrigued by both 6-11 centers who are projected for late lottery or soon after that.
Allen interviewed with the Heat in Miami on Sunday and apparently left a good impression. He couldn’t work out because of a minor injury but the Heat has studied his tape and appreciates his skills.
"With Allen you have late blooming big guy with good defensive instincts and a long wing span and a chance to develop into a good offensive player," ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said, adding he would consider Allen at No. 14. "You will draft him on youth, length, rebounding instincts."
Allen averaged 13.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 32.2 minutes and 1.5 blocks in his one year in Texas. He shot 56.6 percent from the field (missing all seven of his three-pointers) but only 56.4 percent from the line (84 for 149).
"Allen has stayed pretty firmly in the late-lottery to mid-first-round range since the beginning of the season," ESPN’s Chad Ford said. "His length, athleticism and rebounding were all major pluses during his freshman season in Austin. However, he must add strength and continue to improve his perimeter game. He should go somewhere in the Nos. 13-20 range."
Patton, who worked out for the Heat on Sunday, averaged 12.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 25.3 minutes per game for Creighton, shooting 67.6 percent from the field and an eye-opening 8 for 15 on three-pointers. But he shot just 51.7 percent on free throws (45 for 87).
"Patton was one of the most efficient big men in the NCAA this season," ESPN.com’s Chad Ford said. "His ability to score in the post and soft touch from the perimeter put him in contention with Gonzaga's Zach Collins for the best center prospect in the draft. He should go in the Nos. 15-25 range."
So all of these big men – Leaf, Allen, Patton and Gonzaga’s Collins (if he falls) - are in the equation for Miami at No. 14, even more so if Kennard and Mitchell are off the board. Kentucky’s Bam Adebayo, who also worked out for the Heat, also would be an interesting option.
• Drafting Allen or Patton would give the Heat a backup center to replace Willie Reed; the Heat fears Reed will price himself out of Miami’s range. Either might also have the ability to play some minutes at power forward.
Leaf would give the Heat a natural power forward to possibly replace free agent Luke Babbitt and potentially back up James Johnson, if he re-signs as a free agent.
• There are other power rotation players projected for the 12 to 22 range. Wake Forest’s John Collins impressed the Heat in a workout last week, but a Western Conference executive cited a red flag with Collins that does not concern anything related to performance, character or any legal issue. It might cause him to drop.
Duke’s Harry Giles is an option, but his three knee procedures – and his vulnerability to knee injuries – concern the Heat and other teams. He never ended up working out for the Heat after canceling a workout.
UCLA center Ike Anigbogu worked out for the Heat and could be an option if Miami moves down.
• The Heat is believed to have interest in Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is reportedly being shopped. Aldridge, 31, averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds and is due $21.5 million and $22.3 million in the final two years of his contract. The second year (2018-19) is a player option.
The Spurs reportedly are seeking a top 10 draft pick, among other things, in return, and want to clear cap space for a run at Clippers free agent point guard Chris Paul, among others.
The Heat, hypothetically, could offer a package including the 14th pick (which Miami can trade after the draft), Wayne Ellington (whose contract could then be purged by the Spurs before the start of free agency, freeing up $6.3 million), Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts. That hypothetical trade would give the Spurs more room heading into free agency. But the Spurs likely should be able to find a better return elsewhere.
### Here’s my in-depth look at how the reduction in the projected salary cap affects the Heat.
• Here’s my story on the Marlins trying to trade Adeiny Hechavarria.