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Will Heat go big game hunting for another star this summer?


DENVER, CO - JUNE 1: Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and star Jimmy Butler (22) work against the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter of the NBA Finals game 1 at Ball Arena in Denver on Thursday, June 1, 2023. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

Denver Post via Getty Images

This playoff run may have been the ultimate example of Heat culture, where hard work and discipline make the sum so much more than the individual parts. While they may have fallen just short of the ultimate prize, this Heat postseason run was one that should and will go down in Heat lore.

“Our guys will be able to take that quality the rest of their careers; that grit, the perseverance, the toughness, the ability to compete and put yourself out there for everybody to judge and to be able to handle different things, adversity, all that,” Erik Spoelstra said postgame.

The question is how the Heat get back to this stage in a summer where Max Strus and Gabe Vincent are free agents and about to get massive pay raises?

Don’t be surprised if the Heat go big-game hunting and look for another star. There were multiple reports about that in the wake of the Finals. For example, here is ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on ‘The Hoop Collective Podcast’ (hat tip Bleacher Report):

“They have draft picks at their disposal, and they potentially have tradeable contracts, and I think they’re going to go hunting for a star. I don’t know if they’ll get one, I don’t know if it’ll all break their way.’

Shams Charania of The Athletic echoed the same ideas and threw out a name: Kyrie Irving. He reports the Heat made an offer for Irving at the trade deadline last February, just before Brooklyn traded him to Dallas. Is Irving a good culture fit with the Heat?

There are two more logical, better fits if they become available — Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal.

It must be said for the thousandth time that Lillard wants the Trail Blazers to build a playoff team around him in Portland, which is the front office’s goal. Portland is shopping the No. 3 pick for that reason, and the smart money is on Lillard staying in the Pacific Northwest. However, just about every team from around the league is monitoring the situation. If Portland chooses another direction and Lillard asks to be traded, the Miami Heat were one of the two franchises he mentioned as a preferred destination (Brooklyn was the other).

With its new front office, Washington seems more likely to tear things down and rebuild rather than keep running on the treadmill in the middle. Beal has a no-trade clause in his contract, which allows him to control his ultimate destination, and he seems a natural fit in Miami next to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

There are plenty of other stars (a couple of big men in particular) that many teams are watching and could be a fit with the Heat.

Any of these moves would be a trade or sign-and-trade — with Tyler Herro’s new contract kicking in, the Heat are already into the tax next season. They will have real work to do with this roster to stay below the second tax apron.

Still, Andy Elisburg and the Heat are cap masters, and if any team could figure out how to add a star player and make it work under the new CBA, it is the Heat.