The Miami Heat have been one of the most pleasant surprises in the NBA this season. They are exceeding expectations and on pace to make bettors who took their under for total wins look foolish, as they have amassed a 22-8 record and currently sit at third place in the Eastern Conference.
Despite this success to start off the year, president Pat Riley should strongly consider using some of the Heat’s young assets to acquire an All-Star-level player to pair with Jimmy Butler and give this team a legitimate shot to make it to the NBA Finals.
Here are two former All-Stars who the Heat should look into acquiring.
In the absence of rookie Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans have been a major disappointment. While they earned a thrilling victory over the Denver Nuggets on Christmas Day, they have also lost 14 of their last 17 games and sit at five games back of the No. 8 seed with a 9-23 record.
Despite these struggles, starting point guard Jrue Holiday is having another solid season as one of the better two-way guards in the league. He is averaging 15.7 points, 6.4 assists and 2.0 stocks (steals and blocks) per game.
The Heat could use Holiday’s services to provide scoring, playmaking and elite perimeter defense, especially since Kendrick Nunn has come back down to earth from his hot start. The rookie from Oakland University has only topped 20 points twice this month.
Perhaps Nunn is here to stay and will get back to his dominant ways and prove he can be the capable starting point guard on this team. However, Holiday would be a clear upgrade and would give the Heat huge defensive upside. A trio of Holiday, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo would be terrifying.
Having that impact on the defensive end would give the Heat a legitimate chance to not only contend with Eastern Conference leaders like the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, but also even represent the conference in the NBA Finals.
Goran Dragic may have to be on the move to help match salary in this trade, though the Heat have other options as salary fillers and also a stable of young players to include as potential sweeteners.
Kevin Love’s name has been in trade rumors for seemingly forever now. The Heat acquiring Love would give them another star-powered player who can perform inside and out on the offensive end, stretching the floor to create space for Miami’s other shooters like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.
Love has also proven he can be a capable defender with playoff experience, as one of the biggest moments of Cleveland’s Game 7 win over the Golden State Warriors in 2016 was Love defending Stephen Curry on the perimeter relatively well in the waning moments.
That playoff experience would come in handy down the road, especially for this Miami team that is both relatively young and doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience themselves.
What it would take to acquire Love is fascinating. He’s in the first year of a four-year, $120 million extension, so that isn’t exactly a desirable contract, even if Love is still a good player. The Cavs would like to get a first-round pick in exchange for Love, but they may have to take on some bad salary to do it. Miami already owes 2021 and 2023 first-round picks elsewhere, so a young player or two would likely be part of this offer instead.
Either way, the Heat should look into this possibility.
A core of Butler, Adebayo, and either Holiday or Love combined with all the talented young role players on the roster would give the Heat a legitimate chance to win the NBA title this season. It’s up to Pat Riley to put his chips on the table, but he’s always open to make big moves in pursuit of a championship.