Miami Heat considering some familiar names as potential additions. And Dragic returns

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Barry Jackson
·5 min read
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The Heat continues to seek potential roster upgrades and free agent center DeMarcus Cousins is one of several power rotation players on Miami’s radar, according to a source.

The league source said Cousins - who is expected to clear waivers at 5 p.m Thursday - is one of a handful of players that the Heat internally has discussed and been considering, a group that also includes San Antonio’s Rudy Gay (if he’s made available in a trade), Sacramento’s Nemanja Bjelica (said to be available), Houston’s PJ Tucker (said to be available) and Detroit’s Blake Griffin (but only if he’s released).

Which of those players is the Heat’s preference remains unclear, but Miami is doing due diligence on all of them.

The Heat, which would need to release or trade a player to create the roster space to acquire a new player, has five vehicles to add players:

1) a $4.7 million disabled-player exception, which expires April 19;

2) a $7.5 million trade exception, which expires March 22;

3) a $3.6 million bi-annual exception;

4) a veteran’s minimum salary topping out at $2.6 million (prorated) and

5) a trade (not involving an exception) in which teams exchange players with comparable salaries if both teams are above the salary cap.

The Heat is above the cap but $8 million below the luxury tax threshold that it prefers not to exceed.

Cousins, 30, is a four-time All Star (most recently in 2018) but played in only 30 games the two seasons prior to this one because of major injuries.

He played 25 games for Houston this season before Cousins and the Rockets mutually agreed to part ways this week.

For the Rockets, Cousins started 11 games and averaged 9.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists and 20.2 minutes while shooting just 37.6 percent from the field and 33.6 percent on three-pointers.

He’s ninth in the NBA in rebounds per 36 minutes, at 13.6.

Bam Adebayo ranks 36th in that category, with 10.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Cousins’ lateral movement, coming off an ACL injury in August 2019, was limited, and that’s one concern.

The other issue is whether the Heat has a role that would interest him. Erik Spoelstra traditionally likes playing a stretch big aside Adebayo.

And while Cousins can shoot threes, he doesn’t have the mobility to defend the types of players that Jae Crowder could while playing a power forward role for Miami during last year’s playoff run.

The Heat tried to sign Cousins in July 2019, but he signed with the Lakers and then tore his ACL in a pickup game weeks later.

Toronto, Boston and Golden State are considered among other possible options for Cousins. The Lakers are not interested, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Gay remains very much on the Heat’s radar; he might represent the best chance to replicate what Crowder gave Miami: a power forward-turned-small-forward with perimeter skills on offense and defense. But it’s unclear if the Spurs are willing to trade him.

Gay, earning $14.5 million, is averaging 11.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and shooting 36.6 percent from the field. A hypothetical deal involving Kelly Olynyk and Gay would satisfy salary cap rules, but it’s unclear if either side would do that.

A hypothetical deal of Meyers Leonard (out for the season after shoulder surgery) and Avery Bradley for Gay also would work under the cap.

Though Griffin, 31, is a shell of the player who was named to the All Star team six times (most recently in 2019), the Heat will give him at least some consideration if he’s released by Detroit. A trade would be of no interest to Miami because he has a $38 million player option for next season.

Griffin and the Pistons have mutually agreed that he will sit out until his future is resolved. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists but shooting just 36.5 percent from the field and 31.5 percent on threes.

Olynyk has started 25 of Miami’s past 26 games and is averaging 10.1 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting a career-low 43.2 percent from the field and a career-worst 33 percent on three-pointers.

DRAGIC BACK

Guard Goran Dragic returned to the Heat’s lineup on Wednesday against Toronto after missing nine consecutive games with a sprained ankle.

Dragic said on Wednesday that he’s feeling “OK” but “I still need to do a lot of work.”

But Tyler Herro missed a second consecutive game with a hip contusion.

Forward Chris Silva, who had been dealing with a hip injury, also is available for the first time in five weeks.

“I would have used him somewhere on the trip [if he was healthy],” Erik Spoelstra said. “The minutes he played this year, he has produced. He’s had a really good couple weeks of work.”

▪ Spoelstra, on Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo being bypassed for the All-Star Game: “It is tough to see that, especially so early. We still have a half a season to go. The narrative [can change]. People were quick to write us off even [in] subconscious voting because of our record. Both Bam and JB are clearly All Stars. It’s unfortunate it didn’t shape up that way.”

Here’s my Wednesday piece with news on Tua Tagovailoa and Heat, Marlins and Panthers media notes.

Here’s my Wednesday piece with fresh insight on how new Panthers general manager Bill Zito upgraded the roster.