The Miami Heat have exercised their team option on Goran Dragic, positioning themselves to make a move for Kyle Lowry in 2021 NBA free agency.
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are always looking to make upgrades to their roster. It’s not surprising they’re on the prowl again after they followed up a surprising NBA Finals run in the Orlando bubble with a disappointing first-round sweep.
On Sunday, the eve of 2021 NBA free agency, the Heat announced they would be exercising Goran Dragic’s $19.4 million team option for the upcoming season. On the surface, this would seem like a hefty amount to pay for a 35-year-old point guard who has missed ample time in each of the last three seasons, but Miami is really just positioning itself for yet another upgrade.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, exercising Dragic’s team option is a precursor to pursue Kyle Lowry in a potential sign-and-trade, with Dragic’s $19.4 million serving as the base salary that would be heading to the Toronto Raptors if the two sides were able to strike a deal:
The Heat are setting themselves up for a run at Kyle Lowry
As ESPN Bobby Marks notes, this move allows the Heat to operate as an over-the-cap team, giving them the $9.5 million mid-level exception to work with as well as retain the ability to bring back restricted free agent Duncan Robinson.
According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Heat are also interested in Lowry’s former backcourt mate from their Toronto days, DeMar DeRozan. Both are unrestricted free agents this summer and should have plenty of suitors.
Lowry will be one of the top names on the market since Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul are likely to remain with their respective teams. The New Orleans Pelicans and Philadelphia 76ers are also expected to express interest in Lowry, so there will be a market for his services.
But if signing him outright doesn’t materialize, the Heat will be able to provide Toronto with some sort of compensation if Lowry decides on Miami, with Dragic being the centerpiece of a deal, accompanied by either draft compensation or young players to facilitate a deal. Wojnarowski identified 2020 first-round pick Precious Achiuwa as the potential sweetener in such a deal.
The situation is still fluid, but rest assured the Heat will do everything in their power to add one of the summer’s top free agents to a core that includes Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.