Heat free agency tracker: Kevin Durant asks for trade; Heat among teams that interest him

·10 min read

With free agent negotiations around the NBA allowed to begin Thursday at 6 p.m., it’s going to be a busy day for the Miami Heat and the rest of the league. Updates will be posted here throughout the day:

8:40 p.m. update: Memphis’ Kyle Anderson is signing with the Minnesota Timberwolves, per ESPN. That further diminishes the list of free agent power forwards. Still available: Otto Porter and TJ Warren (who’s more of a small forward but can play power forward).

6 p.m. update: During the first few minutes of free agency, the Heat re-signed Victor Oladipo and Dwayne Dedmon (see our story here) and lost P.J. Tucker to Philadelphia, as expected.

Meanwhile, Miami continues to pursue a trade for Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant.

If the Heat cannot land Durant, there are a handful of power forward options available, including TJ Warren, Otto Porter and Kyle Anderson in free agency and potentially Jae Crowder, Kyle Kuzma, and Harrison Barnes via a trade. There was nothing percolating on a Crowder trade earlier Thursday, but the Heat has interest in bringing him back if it doesn’t get Durant, a source reiterated.

Danilo Gallinari will be a free agent option once San Antonio buys him out (see below).

Four free agent power forwards - Bobby Portis, Joe Inglis, Chris Boucher, Nik Batum and Thaddeus Young - signed elsewhere early Thursday evening.

4 p.m. update: Danilo Gallinari, a player who has interested in the Heat in past, now has interest in the Heat - as well as Boston and Chicago - after his San Antonio buyout is complete, according to ESPN.

Gallinari reportedly wants the $10.5 million mid-level exception, and the Heat is reluctant to use that because it would hard cap Miami at $156 million. The Heat could use the $6.3 million taxpayer mid-level exception without being hard-capped.

Miami will need a power forward if P.J. Tucker leaves for Philadelphia, as is widely expected. The Heat could sign TJ Warren, Gallinari, Kyle Anderson, Otto Porter or Thaddeus Young to play power forward or could trade for a player such as Jae Crowder, Kyle Kuzma or Harrison Barnes (unless it acquires Kevin Durant).

There had been no Heat trade agreed to (or anything close) for Crowder as of midday Thursday, according to a source.

3 p.m.: Kevin Durant has requested a trade, and the Nets are working with him to find a trade partner.

The Heat has strong interest in Durant. And the Heat and Phoenix Suns are among teams on his wish list, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who added that the “Nets plans to move Durant where they can get the best possible deal.”

Yahoo reported that the Suns are Durant’s preferred destination.

A Heat trade involving Bam Adebayo and Durant would not be permitted under NBA salary cap rules, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, unless Ben Simmons also were included in the deal.

The reason for that: Teams cannot have two players acquired via a trade who received five-year rookie max extensions. So the Nets would need to include Simmons in a deal involving Adebayo or trade Simmons before acquiring Adebayo.

We’re told that Durant holds Adebayo in high regard.

If Adebayo isn’t in a package, any Heat offer would need to be built around Jimmy Butler and it’s unclear if the Nets would seek younger talent than Butler, who is 32.

The Heat also could offer guard Tyler Herro, first-round picks in 2023 and 2028 and potentially Nikola Jovic, their first round pick in last week’s draft. Miami also could include its 2025 first-round pick if it amends protections on that pick due OKC.

But Phoenix would seemingly be in better position than Miami because it could offer two high-caliber young players: DeAndre Ayton (a restricted free agent) and Mikal Bridges. Without Adebayo included in the Heat, Miami’s young assets would be less appealing.

Durant, 33, has four years remaining on his contract. He’s due $44.1, $47.6, $51.2 and $54.7 million over the next four seasons.

Durant is a 12-time All Star and six-time All NBA First team player. He was Finals MVP twice with Golden State and won the league MVP in 2014.

Simmons is due $35.4 million, $37.8 million and $40.3 million. From a salary cap standpoint, taking on as much salary as Simmons and Durant in the same deal ($79 million) would require be difficult but certainly not impossible.

With Simmons needed to be sent out (to Heat or elsewhere) in any Bam/Nets deal, one hypothetical permutation that would work within cap rules is Durant and Simmons for Adebayo, Herro, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson and three first-rounders (including Jovic).

Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving also is available in trade talks, after exercising his $36.9 million player option. But the Heat has displayed no inclination to offer appealing assets for Irving.

Free agency guide: What to know about Heat’s salary cap situation, P.J. Tucker pursuit and more

Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker (17) reacts after a play against the Boston Celtics during the third quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals series at FTX Arena in Miami on May 25, 2022.
Miami Heat forward P.J. Tucker (17) reacts after a play against the Boston Celtics during the third quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals series at FTX Arena in Miami on May 25, 2022.

2 p.m.: If Tucker does sign elsewhere, how will the Heat replace the void he leaves behind as an experienced veteran who started 70 regular-season games and each of the 18 playoff games as its small-ball power forward?

The Heat’s free agent options to replace Tucker in the starting lineup are limited. Among the top forwards in this year’s free agent class are Otto Porter Jr., Kyle Anderson, T.J. Warren, Thaddeus Young, Nicolas Batum, Joe Ingles, Chris Boucher, Bobby Portis, Cody Martin and its own free agent in Caleb Martin.

The Heat could also trade for Tucker’s replacement if he signs with another team in free agency. Small-ball forwards on expiring contracts such as Sacramento’s Harrison Barnes (expiring contract with $18.4 million salary for 2022-23 season) and Phoenix’s Jae Crowder (expiring contract with $10.2 million salary for 2022-23 season) are intriguing options, and Atlanta’s John Collins (entering second season of five-year, $125 million deal) has been linked to the Heat by multiple reports as a potential trade target.

1:10 p.m.: While it appears that veteran forward P.J. Tucker may sign elsewhere and there’s a level of uncertainty surrounding how the Heat will build out its roster in free agency, star Jimmy Butler remains confident in Miami’s front office.

According to a league source close to the situation, “the front office has Jimmy’s utmost faith that they will continue to put him in a position to win a championship. Headed into Year 4 together, each side totally understands the other. As they trust him, he trusts them and he believes that they will find the right types of players to win that championship with him.”

With James Harden opting out of a $47.4 million salary for next season, he’s expected to take a little less money to give the Philadelphia 76ers the ability to use their full $10.5 million mid-level exception to sign Tucker. While Tucker’s return to Miami can’t be completely ruled out yet, Tucker departure became more likely when Harden opted out to create financial flexibility for Philadelphia.

According to The Athletic’s Alex Schiffer, the list of teams expected to pursue Tucker when free agency opens includes the Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and 76ers. The 76ers are widely considered to be the favorites to sign Tucker away from the Heat.

According to multiple sources close to the situation, the Heat is willing to offer Tucker a fully guaranteed contract for the maximum-allowable three years using the non-Bird exception. The deal would include a starting salary of $8.4 million and be worth about $26.5 million through three seasons.

But the Heat is not currently willing to use the $10.5 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception to re-sign Tucker, according to sources, which would allow Miami to offer him a three-year contract worth about $33 million.

Tucker, like most players, is looking for the most guaranteed money possible at this late stage of his career. Tucker and his camp believe there will be teams willing to offer him a contract in the $30 million range over three years using the non-taxpayer midlevel exception.

Dallas Mavericks’ Jalen Brunson, left, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game on March 18, 2022, in Philadelphia.
Dallas Mavericks’ Jalen Brunson, left, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid during the first half of an NBA basketball game on March 18, 2022, in Philadelphia.

12:10 p.m.: The Miami Heat’s meeting with free agent point guard Jalen Brunson will not happen and was never scheduled to happen, according to a league source.

A source familiar with the situation denied reports that the Heat is scheduled to meet with Brunson, who is considered among the top free agents in this year’s class. The source said such a meeting was never scheduled and there’s no meeting planned, as of Thursday morning.

Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported Wednesday night that the Heat was one of three teams that Brunson would meet with in New York on the first night of free agency Thursday, along with the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks.

The Knicks are widely considered the heavy favorites to sign Brunson. It was recently reported that Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, will join the Knicks’ coaching staff led by Tom Thibodeau.

The Knicks are expected to offer Brunson a four-year contract worth around $110 million, according to Haynes. Brunson, 25, has spent the first four seasons of his NBA career with the Mavericks.

The Heat enters free agency without cap space and would have needed to pull off a sign-and-trade to acquire Brunson. A sign-and-trade transaction would trigger the $157 million hard cap for the Heat, which Miami has been trying to avoid to maintain flexibility in the trade market in the coming months.

The Heat also already has a proven starting point guard on its roster in veteran Kyle Lowry, who is entering the second season of a three-year, $85 million contract he signed with Miami last offseason.

11:30 a.m.: Here’s where things stand for the Heat entering free agency ...

The Heat’s current salary-cap breakdown for next season includes 10 players: Jimmy Butler ($37.7 million), Bam Adebayo ($30.4 million), Kyle Lowry ($28.3 million), Duncan Robinson ($16.9 million), Tyler Herro ($5.7 million), Nikola Jovic (projected $2.2 million), Max Strus ($1.8 million), Gabe Vincent ($1.8 million), Omer Yurtseven ($1.8 million) and Haywood Highsmith ($1.8 million).

Jovic has not signed his rookie-scale contract yet. He’s slotted to make about $2.2 million next season as the 27th overall pick and will be under team control for five seasons. This year’s first-round picks can begin signing their contracts Friday.

The full $1.8 million salaries of Strus, Vincent and Yurtseven became guaranteed Thursday because they were not waived by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

Highsmith’s entire $1.8 million salary for next season is currently non-guaranteed. But the first $50,000 of Highsmith’s salary with the Heat for next season becomes guaranteed if he’s not waived by Friday.

Not including cap holds, the Heat has about $128.4 million committed to salaries for next season with the latest 2022-23 projections setting the salary cap at $123.7 million, luxury-tax threshold at $150.3 million and potential hard-cap apron at $157 million.

That leaves six players from the Heat’s season-ending roster who will become free agents this summer: Dewayne Dedmon, Udonis Haslem, Markieff Morris, Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker will be unrestricted free agents, and Caleb Martin will be a restricted free agent.

The Heat will operate as an over-the-cap team in free agency this offseason since it does not hold cap space. That means Miami will need to add free agents by using either the power of Bird rights, one of the two midlevel exceptions, the bi-annual exception, a minimum contract or a sign-and-trade transaction.

While negotiations can begin Thursday evening, free agents can’t formally sign their new contracts until Wednesday at 12:01 p.m.

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