Dec. 25, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (left) , Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (center) and Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (right) talk during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Miami Heat to be a major player in 2016 free agency

The Miami Heat will certainly have a different look them during the 2014-2015 season, but it isn’t as different as many believed after forward LeBron James decided to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team he left to join the Heat back in 2010.

The Heat rebounded by re-signing the rest of the big three, big man Chris Bosh and guard Dwyane Wade. They also retained center Chris “Birdman” Andersen and point guard Mario Chalmers while scooping up former Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward Luol Deng to replace James.  That’s why Heat president Pat Riley told reports he feels “very good about where we are right now” and apparently believes he will feel even better in 2016.

According to Mike Wallace of ESPN.com, Riley not only believes the Heat can win the Eastern Conference this year, but they will also be trying to hit another home run in free agency in 2016.

Durant is obviously the biggest prize but there could be several other elite free agents including Brooklyn Nets’ point guard Deron Williams, Charlotte Hornets’ guard Lance Stephenson, Portland Trail Blazers’ swingman Nicolas Batum, Atlanta Hawks’ big man Al Horford and Chicago Bulls’ center Joakim Noah.

Other key 2016 free agents include Memphis Grizzlies’ point guard Mike Conley, Brooklyn Nets’ guard Joe Johnson, Dallas Mavericks’ forward Chandler Parsons (player option), Golden State Warriors’ power forward David Lee, New Orleans Pelicans’ power forward Ryan Anderson and Houston Rockets’ center Dwight Howard (player option).

Oh and of course, James will also be a free agent.

Tags: Al Horford Joakim Noah Kevin Durant Lance Stephenson Miami Heat

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