The Miami Heat were four wins away from championship glory; how can the team add more star power to aid their title pursuit next season?
The Miami Heat are never out of the contenders circle, no matter how much the regular season product leads one to believe otherwise. That’s the lesson we all learned in May and June when the 8-seed Heat plowed through the 1-seed Bucks, 4-seed Knicks, and 2-seed Celtics to emerge as Eastern Conference champs for the second time during Jimmy Butler’s tenure with the franchise.
It’s clear Miami is capable of winning the high-stakes matchups. Erik Spoelstra is the best coach in basketball. Jimmy Butler was in peak Playoff Jimmy mode for half the postseason. When he wasn’t, the supporting cast stepped up with remarkable performances across the board. Caleb Martin was one vote shy of winning Eastern Conference Finals MVP!
Bam Adebayo has ascended to the level of true NBA stardom. The Heat have a legitimate two-headed monster on both ends of the floor, along with a sly group of vets and underrated role players who somehow just know how to royally screw over your favorite team.
How can Miami improve from here? The expectation is that Pat Riley and the front office will pursue more star power via trade or free agency. Bradley Beal is no longer in the mix, but the Heat have more than enough firepower and leverage to swing another big deal.
Here’s how it might look.
No. 3 star trade for the Miami Heat: Karl-Anthony Towns
2023, 2027, 2029 first-round picks
Butler would ultimately have to sign off on Karl-Anthony Towns, who he famously butted heads with in Minnesota. Times change, however, and there’s no denying KAT’s talent.
The Wolves are primed to go in a different direction with Anthony Edwards supplanting KAT as the franchise cornerstone. The Rudy Gobert trade makes it doubly hard to see the path forward for Towns in Minnesota; Towns is the better player, but the Wolves emptied the bank to acquire Gobert and his trade value is virtually zero. Their hands are tied.
If Minnesota starts floating Towns on the market, he’s a fascinating option for Miami. He gives the Heat more size in the frontcourt, a weakness that was frequently exploited by Denver in the Finals. KAT isn’t exactly Joker-stopper material, but he’s a competent rim protector who can throw his weight around in the post.
Pairing two All-Star “centers” is risky in the modern NBA, but the brilliance of Bam Adebayo lies in his ability to defend 1-5. He’s the best switch defending big in the league and he would have no trouble plugging holes all over the court and roaming off of non-shooters while KAT anchors the paint.
KAT is an elite volume shooter; his pick-and-roll/pop game with Butler would cause headaches for opposing defenses. He has progressed significantly as a passer since his last partnership with Butler. Meanwhile, Adebayo would still have room to attack the middle of the floor and get into his patented short-range pull-ups.
The Wolves get Tyler Herro, who profiles as an interesting offensive partner for Edwards in the backcourt. Both Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry are overpaid veteran point guards who are involved mostly for salary purposes. Conley is a mild upgrade for the Heat, who will need a new point guard with Gabe Vincent entering free agency and Herro out the door.
Is three first-round picks too much for KAT? Your gut instinct might say “yes,” but remember that Utah just got four first-round picks (and much more) for Gobert. KAT is 27 years old, smack in the middle of his prime. The market for stars has never been hotter. The Wolves could get a real haul for a top-30 player.