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Miami Heat’s improbable pursuit of Jalen Brunson

The Miami Heat have a scheduled meeting with Jalen Brunson and it's certainly unexpected. Why is the Heat pursuing Brunson and what are the ripple effects?

Austin Konenski

The Miami Heat keep finding their way into the room for high-sought-after free agents and Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson is next on that prestige list.

What led to this meeting, why is the Heat pursuing Brunson, and what’s Kyle Lowry’s future in Miami?

Miami Heat’s scheduled meeting with Jalen Brunson raises eyebrows

If you thought free agency couldn’t get more unexpected, the Miami Heat entering the mix when Brunson to the New York Knicks was a sure thing would classify as just that.

First off, let’s be clear now. The Heat has interest in Brunson and this is not to help the Knicks with any possible tampering violations or to help the free agent’s pursuit of more money from New York.

If Pat Riley can get in a room with a free agent, the sole purpose is to bring them to Miami. Think back to when LaMarcus Aldrige got into the room with Riley and wanted to figure out a way to get eventually sign him.

However, this one might be even more confusing. The Heat just performed a sign-and-trade for former Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry last offseason. It’s not like it’s a position of need.

The Heat are obviously not fully committed to Lowry. If so, they wouldn’t be taking this meeting with Brunson since a pairing with Lowry does not make sense in a vacuum.

While the Knicks most likely land the 25-year-old player, there is something deeper happening that will most likely come to light eventually. Perhaps, this is just looking too far into the situation.

Either way, Miami is looking to improve and possibly get younger at the guard position. Perhaps, it views Brunson and Tyler Herro as the backcourt of the future if it comes to fruition.

Related: Ideal Jalen Brunson landing spots in NBA free agency

What would a potential Miami Heat sign-and-trade for Jalen Brunson look like?

jalen brunson miami heat
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson is likely going to command a contract that is more than $25 million per season. Coincidentally, there is a very easy salary on the Miami Heat’s roster that can match Brunson.

Kyle Lowry’s cap hit for the 2022-23 NBA season is projected to be $28.33 million. It’s a sign-and-trade made in heaven for both sides as Dallas can pair Lowry next to Luka Doncic.

  • Jalen Brunson stats (2021-22): 16.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 4.8 APG, 50% shooting, 37% 3-point

The Heat would likely add a first-round pick since a straight-up Lowry for Brunson trade wouldn’t feel as realistic. Meanwhile, the Knicks can simply sign Brunson into cap space and move on with their day.

It’s very interesting because the Heat do not want to trigger a hard cap situation and a sign-and-trade for Brunson would cause that to happen. If Miami were to land Brunson, it’s the only avenue to a deal.

The main reason Miami has been reluctant to give P.J. Tucker the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception is due to how it would trigger a hard cap and prevent further flexibility.

Is the 25-year-old guard worth minimizing future flexibility? The former champion at Villanova had a breakout 2022-23 campaign and seems to just now be hitting his prime.

What about during the 2022 NBA Playoffs? Brunson averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 46.6% from the field and 34.7% from beyond the arc.

If the Heat feel like Brunson can reach another level without Luka Doncic and they feel like he’s the better option short-term, they should absolutely make the deal.

However, it does put the future of Lowry in the air if they do not make the move for Brunson.

Related: Miami Heat offseason news and rumors

Kyle Lowry’s questionable future with the Miami Heat

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing that Miami does not like, it is drama within the organization. This might ruffle some feathers with Kyle Lowry if the Heat are truly looking to move on from him for Jalen Brunson.

The Heat acquired Lowry in a sign-and-trade deal with the Toronto Raptors that sent both Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa to the Canadian-based organization.

Outside of Brunson, Miami was also linked to Kyrie Irving earlier in the week before he decided to return to the Brooklyn Nets. Lowry would have surely been a part of a potential package since the math couldn’t work without him.

This makes something very clear. The Heat are interested in upgrading the point guard position if an opportunity presents itself without the idea of Lowry still on the team.

If Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg think there is an upgrade to be made, they will try their hardest to make it from a cap salary standpoint. While Lowry is Jimmy Butler’s close friend, they also want to give him a championship.

The Heat traded away Dragic, another one of Butler’s close friends, to land Lowry. But how would he feel about Brunson? It might not matter if the Heat are trying to do their best to form a better team.

Perhaps, Lowry is not as connected to the Miami Heat as everyone thinks right now. Maybe, this is all being blown out of proportion and Brunson will “magically” agree to contract with New York on Thursday at 6:01 p.m. ET.

Either way, it is an interesting dynamic to watch moving forward. There’s certainly more to come from this situation sooner rather than later.