Miami Heat

A longtime NBA writer explains how the Heat could land a top player this offseason

Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat, talks with the media at a season-end press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on April 30.
Pat Riley, president of the Miami Heat, talks with the media at a season-end press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on April 30. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

NBA free agency is still a little more than month away. The NBA Finals haven't even started yet.

But with the Miami Heat's season having been over for about a month after its first-round playoff exit, basketball talk around South Florida has shifted to the hypotheticals of what the Heat might do this offseason.

Longtime basketball writer Ian Thomsen has a few suggestions.

Thomsen, author of the new book "The Soul of Basketball" — which includes details about Pat Riley's feelings about LeBron James’ departure from the Miami — made a guest appearance on WQAM's Joe Rose Show on Tuesday.

While the topic of conversation focused heavily on the NBA Finals matchup — Round 4 of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors — Thomsen closed out his appearance by answering a couple questions regarding the Miami Heat.

The main Miami-related question: Could Riley and the Heat potentially make a run at any of the top players expected to be on the open market this summer?

There are multiple big names expected to be on the market this offseason — James, Kevin Durant, Paul George and Chris Paul among them.

But Thomsen only sees one realistic route for the Heat.

"It would have to be by trade just because there's no cap space," Thomsen said, "and trades are impossible to predict."

One of the biggest names who could be on the trading block is the San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard, a two-time NBA All-Star who only played in nine games this season. ESPN back in April proposed a potential trade that would send Leonard to Miami. The deal: Leonard and Patty Mills to the Heat in exchange for Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo.

Pat Riley, President of the Miami Heat, confirms nobody on this team is 'untouchable' if the right name is available.

"If the Spurs would trade him, you would think that they would start over with young guys or they would want bona fide starters in return or guys that you think are going to turn into superstars — the next Kawhi Leonard, the guy that has that DNA in him," Thomsen said. "The young guys on the Miami Heat, do they fit that category? I think they're all very good players, but I don't think anybody sees superstar talent in them."

Even if the Heat isn't able to land a known All-Star player, Thomsen said he believes the Heat could serve as the team that serves as the landing spot for a potential up-and-comer.

"There are young players out there that can become great in the right environment. Miami is one of those environments," Thomsen said.

Thomsen likened this scenario to the Indiana Pacers' pursuit of Victor Oladipo last offseason.

Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, was a serviceable starting combo guard during the first four seasons of his career — three with the Orlando Magic, one with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Indiana traded five-time All-Star Paul George for the up-and-coming Oladipo.

Oladipo responded with a career season, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.4 steals over 34 minutes per game. He earned his first NBA All-Star nod and landed on the league's All-Defensive first team. Thomsen compared him to Dwyane Wade.

"No one saw it coming," Thomsen said. "Now, all of a sudden, you look at him and see that he's the closest thing in the league to Dwyane Wade right now from the size, the attacking, the team-mindedness and leading his team in every category at his position. [The Pacers] found something there. That's what Miami would have to do."

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