The Miami Heat were already likely out of the Giannis Antetokounmpo sweepstakes after Bam Adebayo signed his five-year rookie max deal. Both Adebayo and Antetokounmpo share the same agent, which was rumored to play into Adebayo’s timing on signing his extension.
The idea of the MVP coming to South Beach took a turn for the worse after Giannis Antetokounmpo agreed to a five-year, $228 million supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. Antetokounmpo had until Dec. 21 to decide on his future with Milwaukee, and there was growing speculation that he could actually turn down his extension in order to join another contender in 2021.
While there is an ever-so-small possibility of the Athens, Greece native still joining the Miami Heat in 2021, it would require an extreme amount of maneuvering by the Heat, making such a trade nearly impossible.
Now, the Heat have to move on to the other superstars in the league who have been rumored to desire a change of scenery. Giannis Antetokounmpo was clearly the front office’s first choice, but there are a few other suitors that can help make the Heat championship favorites once more.
However, there’s one name in particular that the Heat should continue to pursue: James Harden.
Heat Receive: James Harden
Rockets Receive: Tyler Herro, Kelly Olynyk, Andre Iguodala, Kendrick Nunn, Chris Silva; Two first-round picks
The Heat basically evened out in the offseason. They lost Jae Crowder but quickly replaced him with Avery Bradley, which should help maintain their 3-and-D and back-door cutting efforts. While that may be the case, they still were in need of some additional talent last season to truly make a case at upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA Finals.
Any deal the Heat put together is going to have to include Tyler Herro if they plan to bring back star-level talent. Jimmy Butler and Adebayo are likely untouchables, and Goran Dragic just re-signed which makes him an immovable item for a while.
It was heavily rumored that the heat wouldn’t be willing to part with Herro in any deals, but those reports have been refuted in days since.
Dragic and Harden in the backcourt would make for an interesting pairing. It’ll bring about an array of scoring from two guards that share a similar offensive skillset, though Harden’s is clearly on a different plateau. Butler would likely resume a role he owned during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers with another legitimate star in the backcourt. Having Ben Simmons as an offense-initiator allowed Butler to play second fiddle many a nights, which could see him go off quietly for 25-plus points in any game.
Losing Herro may end up being a significant drop-off in talent in the future, but Herro doesn’t dramatically increase Miami’s chances of repeating an appearance in the NBA Finals and walking away victorious this time. James Harden, on the other hand, puts the Heat directly on par with the Nets and Lakers as a few of the favorites for the 2021 championship.
Harden’s discomfort with the Houston Rockets continues to grow, which could lead to their front office being forced to end the former MVP’s time in Houston. Miami should take the opportune moment to capitalize on Houston’s misfortunes.