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Miami Heat’s Options to Replace P.J. Tucker

P.J. Tucker
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On the first day of NBA free agency, the Miami Heat lost P.J. Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers reportedly signed Tucker on a three-year, $33 million contract. With Tucker gone, the Heat are now searching for options to complement Bam Adebayo in the frontcourt. Miami prefers a player who can space the floor and play in Miami’s switch-heavy defense. Those options were already limited heading into free agency. Among the top power forward free agents were Otto Porter, T.J. Warren, Kyle Anderson, Thaddeus Young, Joe Ingles, Chris Boucher, and Bobby Portis. Unfortunately for the Heat, the majority of those free-agent targets have already left the board. Warren is the only player from that list currently available. The 6-foot-8, 220 pound forward has the size and strength to play at the power forward spot. He is recovering from a foot injury that sidelined him for the 2021-22 NBA season.

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Miami could also look internally for a Tucker replacement. Caleb Martin is currently a restricted free agent for Miami, meaning the Heat can match outside offers up to the $10.5 million mid-level exception for the forward. There is mutual interest between both sides in a new deal. Martin spent some time at the power forward position during the season, but Miami would likely prefer to stick with him at the small forward spot.

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Searching the Trade Market

That leaves Miami to scour the trade market. For the Heat, the dream option would be to land Kevin Durant, who requested a trade on Thursday. Durant reportedly has the Heat and Phoenix Suns as his two preferred destinations. Even though the Heat is on his list, the Brooklyn Nets are asking for a massive return. Miami is willing to offer anyone outside of Jimmy Butler and Adebayo. Since Adebayo is on a designated rookie contract, the NBA rules prohibit the Nets from acquiring him since they already traded for Ben Simmons. Simmons, like Adebayo, is also on a designated rookie contract and cannot be on the same team as him. This makes it even more complicated for Miami to acquire Durant, even if they decided to include Adebayo.

Is Durant Really an Option?

Miami’s pursuit of Durant also played a role in them missing out on some of their targets at the beginning of free agency. They are still waiting to see how the Durant trade talks end. Once that is over, Miami is likely going to have to pursue forwards in the market. Jae Crowder has reportedly been targeted as an option. Crowder started on the 2020 Heat team that went to the NBA Finals in the NBA bubble. Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins is another potential trade target. Collins is being shopped around by Atlanta due to his unhappiness with his role. Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings could be targeted, as well. Miami will likely try to include Duncan Robinson in those talks, along with picks.

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So far, Miami has only re-signed Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon. The Heat are still going all-in on Durant as long as he remains available. It’s no surprise, considering how the Heat front office operates when star talent is available. The challenge is finding an offer that will persuade the Nets to trade him to Miami. Regardless, the Heat still has holes to fill during the off-season. Especially at the power forward position. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out as the offseason progresses.

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Main Image Credit: via CBS Sports

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Tyronn Lue, NBA
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