Barry Jackson

Irving’s Heat admiration won’t influence Cavaliers

Goran Dragic, guard of the Miami Heat drives against Kyrie Irving, guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
Goran Dragic, guard of the Miami Heat drives against Kyrie Irving, guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, March 19, 2016. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

News that disgruntled Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving listed the Heat among four preferred destinations in his recent trade request has raised Heat fans’ hopes about a possible trade for the All-Star guard.

And while the possibility certainly cannot be ruled out, the Heat does not have considerable optimism about being able to strike a deal, multiple league sources said.

One Eastern Conference official who spoke to the Heat said Miami considers itself something of a long shot.

Tim Reynolds, the reputable Associated Press Heat and NBA writer, said on Steve Shapiro’s Sports Xtra on WSVN-7 that he does not believe Miami is interested in acquiring Irving.

Regardless of the Heat’s level of interest – and Miami always inquires when a star player is available - the Heat at this point does not view a deal as very likely. Miami’s best chance would be if suitors with more appealing assets can’t strike a deal and the Cavaliers circle back to Miami.

Phoenix and Minnesota are among particularly strong candidates to pull off a trade for Irving, according to one league source.

And the in 22-year-old Andrew Wiggins (23.6 ppg last season) and 27-year-old Eric Bledsoe (21.1 points, 6.3 assists), the Wolves and Suns have the type of emerging, highly-skilled young wing players that Miami lacks.

What about Justise Winslow? ESPN’s Zach Lowe offers a dead-on assessment of his value in this interesting piece outlining potential trade options, noting:

“Miami could save Cleveland money by offering [Goran] Dragic, Wayne Ellington, and Justise Winslow for [Iman] Shumpert and Irving, but Cleveland would likely turn up its nose unless the market proves cool. Miami cannot trade any first-round pick that's earlier than its 2023 selection. After two bricky, injury-riddled seasons, Winslow has to play his way back into blue-chip status. LeBron has little use for non-centers who can't shoot.”

Even beyond the Heat lacking a young star or high draft picks to send to the Cavaliers, the Heat doesn’t believe the Cavaliers are particularly enamored with the notion of sending Irving to Miami.

Remember – Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause and the Cavaliers are under no obligation to send him to one of his preferred teams (Spurs, Heat, Wolves, Knicks).

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that the Cavs have fielded trade offers but “do not yet have traction on a possible deal.”

And keep this in mind, too: After signing Derrick Rose, the Cavs do not necessarily need to get a point guard back in the deal. They could instead opt for the best available player, such as Wiggins potentially.

Should the Heat be completely ruled out for Irving? No.

Though the Heat isn’t heavily involved now, the Cavs could always circle back to Miami if it doesn’t get a deal done with a team with more appealing assets. But Miami isn’t very optimistic about something materializing.

What about the notion of the Heat not pursuing Irving to keep alive hopes of signing LeBron James next summer? I’ve seen no evidence to support that theory.

And while the Heat would welcome James back - and nobody can definitively rule it out - Miami has no expectation of that becoming a reality next summer, believing the Cavs or Lakers would be his preference.

• If you missed this elsewhere Monday, here’s what new Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward told Wojnarowski in a podcast about his free agent meeting with the Heat:

After his July 1 meeting with the Heat in Miami, Hayward said he sent agent Mark Bartelstein a text saying: “’Wow, that's going to be really tough to beat,' or something like that," Hayward said. "I asked Robyn and she said something like she could see herself living there, that would be a really great place for us to be."

The Heat showed Hayward a video, highlighting Miami’s three championships in 11 years, "After the video, [Pat Riley] kind of talked a little bit," Hayward said. "And that was the moment where you kind of do get some chills. And everyone's wearing their ring, too, everybody on the staff was. And so that's the moment where you're like, 'Wow, that's really cool,' an I-want-to-put-on-the-jersey-right-now type feeling….

"Mark had tried to tell me, after you talk with him, you're going to be like, 'Mark, I'm ready to sign right now.' You do get that vibe from him. He's a great motivator," Hayward said. "And we watched some videos, too, of the Heat and their tradition. He definitely makes you feel like you're going to be competing for championships year in and year out."

Of his 45-minute meeting with Erik Spoelstra, Hayward said: "It was something where I went into it curious and intrigued just to talk to him and see his philosophies and his thoughts. I definitely was not disappointed in the meeting that I had."

Why did Miami make the list of finalists (with Boston and incumbent Utah)? “Miami was the spot that the more and more we talked about it, the more and more it looked like this would be a really, really good fit for me," he said of his discussions with Bartelstein before July 1. "And we actually broke it down and had like a point system of different pros and cons and on a weighted scale of different things that each city would represent and each team would represent, and Miami was always near the top of the rankings when we did it."

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton had this interesting nugget on Heat 6-1 point guard Derrick Walton Jr., who was signed to a two-way contract on Monday:

He projects as a 3-point threat off the dribble -- making 27 of 68 such attempts at Michigan for 40.9 percent accuracy, per Synergy Sports tracking -- something that's crucial for modern point guards. At the same time, Walton will need to make 3-pointers to score efficiently, because he's projected to shoot a dismal 37.8 percent inside the arc.”

• Here’s what ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told The Detroit Free Press about Walton: “A D-League level player, and once you’re in the consciousness of teams by being a guy that’s in the D-League, now it’s a matter of how much you put into it to prove people wrong.

“He’s your classic Earl Watson, C.J. Watson, he’s your classic NBA backup point guard. Because of his size and his athleticism, he’s not going to be looked at the high echelon at the most dynamic position in the league. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a place for him as a guy that can make a roster. Every team carries three point guards.”

Here’s my Tuesday post with lots of UM football nuggets... Here are links to my two stories on the two players signed by the Heat this week.... And if you’re a soccer fan, here’s a tickets/media column on Saturday’s ballyhooed El Clasico match in match.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

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