While much of the basketball world believed the Miami Heat were devastated when Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat didn’t sign with them this summer, a new report from Bleacher Report’s Ethan J. Skolnick suggests otherwise.
"So, like they did last offseason—when they couldn’t find a taker for their mid-level exception—they have targeted twenty-something perimeter players. That, not the pursuit of Toronto’s Kyle Lowry or Washington’s Marcin Gortat, has been their priority, according to two sources close to the process, which is why Lowry and Gortat re-signing with their current teams didn’t sting as much as the public may be assuming."
Skolnick instead reports that Miami’s top two targets are Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza. However, finances could make the Heat’s pursuit of the two tricky, as the team won’t have much cap space remaining after they presumably re-sign the Big Three.
"They remain extremely interested in Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng, but sources say that both players need to be convinced to come close to their range; Deng made $14.3 million last season, and Ariza’s camp has made it clear he’s looking for something well north of $8 million annually."
If Pat Riley and Co. are somehow able to convince Ariza or Deng to take a pay cut and join Miami, it would represent one of the better signings this summer.
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Each is a two-way player that would fit nicely in the Heat’s defensive scheme, while also being strong contributors on the offensive end. Ariza averaged 14.4 points on 45.6 percent shooting from the floor last season, while Deng averaged 16.0 points on 43.1 percent shooting from the floor. Not to mention, being that they’re small forwards, their presence would allow Miami to rest LeBron James a bit more next season.
Considering all of that, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Miami is making a strong push to sign one of them.