The Heat's pursuit of Carmelo Anthony escalated this week when the Heat received permission from Oklahoma City to meet with the 10-time All-Star forward.
Anthony met with officials from the Heat and Houston Rockets at the NBA summer league in Las Vegas, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
A league source confirmed the meeting.
Those two teams have emerged as top candidates to sign Anthony when he and the Thunder part ways in the coming days.
The Rockets are expected to vigorously pursue Anthony to replace Trevor Ariza, who signed with Phoenix.
But the Heat has become a consideration because Anthony is said to like South Florida and the Heat organization and because of his friendship with Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who remains an unsigned free agent.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra advocates signing Anthony, according to the ESPN report. A team source confirmed that the Heat is intrigued, believing he can still help a Heat offense that tied for 23rd in the NBA in scoring at 103.4 points per game.
Anthony is due $27.9 million next season but is expected to be traded or released through the NBA's stretch provision, with the Thunder able to allocate his cap hits over three years.
Though the Heat would be very open to a trade for Anthony, the Thunder is reportedly looking to shed salary, not add the type of longterm deals that the Heat has been shopping.
If Anthony signed with Miami, he would be eligible to receive the $2.4 million veteran's minimum, the $3.4 million biannual exception or the $5.3 million taxypayer midlevel exception. Wade also remains a possibility for that exception if he chooses to play.
The Heat can surpass the tax to re-sign Wayne Ellington without using any of those vehicles to sign players.
The Rockets also have similar vehicles to sign Anthony. The Lakers also have been mentioned as a possibility but reportedly have not met with Anthony.
Anthony, who turned 34 last month, is coming off a season in which he averaged a career-low 16.2 points and shot a career-worst 40.4 percent from the field. He averaged just 11.8 points and shot 37.5 percent from the field for the Thunder in its first-round playoff loss to Utah.
But Anthony has averaged 24.1 points and shot 44.9 percent in 15 NBA seasons and has been one of the NBA's premier scorers of the past 20 years.
Anthony expressed to the Thunder at the end of the team's playoff run he would not accept a bench role.
If he joined the Heat, he could slot in at power forward in a frontcourt with Hassan Whiteside and Josh Richardson.
Anthony is a natural small forward but at this stage of his career would be vulnerable defensively against some small forwards, though James Johnson could pick up some of those assignments if Anthony were to be paired with Whiteside and Johnson at times.