Similar to the Bulls, but amid much different circumstances, the Miami Heat are dealing with a bit of a roster crunch. Their rotation has been excellently managed by NBA Championship winning coach Erik Spoelstra, but they still possess veterans who are hoping to see an uptick in playing time, just like Thaddeus Young in Chicago.
In a report from South Florida Sun-Sentinel writer Ira Winderman, Miami frontcourt players Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson have recently discussed how they have dealt with not being extremely involved in what has been a great Heat season thus far. Possible first-time All-Star Bam Abedayo (15.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists per game) and Meyers Leonard have held down the Heat frontcourt for most of the year, both playing in all 40 games to this point in the season. Olynyk is at 19.8 minutes per game for the season but has only played in one of the Heat's last five games.
Heat forward James Johnson has only played in 10 games on the season but has seen a slight uptick in playing time, averaging 17.3 minutes per game over four games in January. But that numbers figure to come way down, possibly all the way to zero, when Justise Winslow returns to full health. And of course once Winslow returns, there is no guarantee he gets, minutes, making him an intriguing (although unlikely) target.
For all of the reasons listed above, the Bulls should be interested in the Heat's roster right now. While they are likely looking to preserve 2021 salary cap space, recent history indicates that Miami is always in 'championship hunt mode' and will always look for ways to improve their current roster while worrying about cap-space saving moves later. On that note, per Basketball-Reference.com, Johnson, Leonard, and newly signed rookie Chris Silva are the only players currently on the roster playing more than 60% of their minutes at power forward.
The Heat, again one of the best teams in the league, aren't desperate for forward depth but could possibly use a defensive-minded forward to close over Leonard for certain matchups in the postseason.
Enter Thaddeus Young.
It's easy to see how a closing lineup of Butler-Kendrick Nunn-Duncan Robinson-Young-Adebayo would be smothering defensively. And while Young is not the elite floor spacer that Leonard is, he shot 35.4% on corner 3-point shots last season with the Pacers. It is not inconceivable that he could return to that type of accuracy in a slightly different role with a Heat team with a bit more on the roster in terms of threats on offense.
Young has played a whopping 97% of his minutes at power forward for Chicago and while the Bulls have made attempts to get him more playing time, the situation lingers as an awkward one. Young is definitely a talented enough player to deserve more than the 22.2 minutes per game he is currently receiving with the Bulls but. As he has said himself: "we have different things that we're trying to do. Like I said, we're trying to develop guys and we're trying to win at the same time."
Miami is a team that—while filled with young talent—is firmly in "win-now" mode. While the Heat likely wouldn't be able to give Young the 30 minutes he is used to, they would be able to supply him a chance to fight for a title with the best homecourt team (18-1) in the league. There are no reports of mutual trade interest between the Heat and Bulls right now but with the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline fast approaching, the Heat are a team that the Bulls should definitely have their eye on.
Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Bulls games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.