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Miami Heat rumblings and speculation ahead of 2022 NBA free agency

A final rundown of what has happened involving the Miami Heat and what could be coming as they look for a P.J. Tucker replacement and more substantial pieces.

Austin Konenski
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Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

There have been lots of Miami Heat news and rumors circulating over the last few days before the 2022 NBA free agency period. Let’s dive into a final look at what is happening and what could be ahead for the Heat.

Miami Heat has to find a PJ Tucker replacement

PJ Tucker to the Philadelphia 76ers feels like a foregone conclusion at this point after James Harden opted out of his contract in an effort to help field a competitive team next season. The Heat wanted to offer Tucker the non-Bird exception and not the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception since it would hard cap the organization. Philadelphia is offering exactly that.

Miami is Tucker’s preference if the money was equal, but it certainly is not at this point in the process. Therefore, the Heat need to find a new starting four next season. One of the more realistic options is Harrison Barnes, as written about on Wednesday afternoon, but a reunion with former Heat forward Jae Crowder appears to be gaining steam as of Wednesday night.

Crowder, 31, averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists while shooting 39.9% from the field and 34.8% from the three-point line in 28.1 minutes per game with the Phoenix Suns last season.

It seems like the easiest way to land him would be by sending Duncan Robinson to Phoenix for Crowder and forward Torrey Craig. Both players in Miami’s return would be expiring contracts that would help the organization’s flexibility.

If not, perhaps the Heat could find a way to pry Dario Saric away from the Suns as it would work within the financials of a potential deal.

Either way, everything points to Tucker wearing a 76ers jersey next season and the Miami Heat’s biggest priority needs to be solidifying not just one, but two new frontcourt pieces during the process of replacing him.

The Heat are not in the race for Jalen Brunson

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Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

It was reported on Wednesday night that the Miami Heat secured a meeting with Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson once the free agency period opens on Thursday evening. However, at least publicly, this has been shut down as reports of a potential meeting were put to rest after a slew of Heat reporters broke the news.

The Heat were either used by Brunson’s camp to gain leverage or throw a curveball into potential tampering charges that could come the New York Knicks’ way. Maybe, the Miami Heat is interested in Brunson but doesn’t want to anger Kyle Lowry.

A deal wasn’t likely to happen if a meeting took place anyway. The Knicks have moved land and water to make cap space for Brunson and his connections with the organization are massive. If everything goes as expected, Brunson is a Knick and everything that has been reported is all for naught come Friday morning.

Other areas of need for the Miami Heat

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Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat had some holes coming into the offseason and PJ Tucker bolting for Philadelphia only makes them more glaring. It’s unlikely that Dewayne Dedmon returns, so the frontcourt is basically Bam Adebayo. Duncan Robinson will almost surely be involved in a trade for a frontcourt player. Jae Crowder makes sense, but they could get into other types of sweepstakes for players, such as Marcus Morris.

The Heat also might need a backup five if the organization feels like Omer Yurtseven is not ready for that full-time role. Yurtseven, along with Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, had their contracts fully guaranteed on Wednesday night.

The best course of action for Miami is to trade for a frontcourt player and then sign one through the roughly $6.3 million mid-level exception to avoid triggering the hard cap. They have been linked to Mo Bamba and Otto Porter Jr., but both are likely to be out of their price range this offseason. Perhaps, the trade for Crowder and Craig could solve that issue right away, but it’s not the No. 1 option.

Miami will almost certainly make some moves in the coming days as it retools the frontcourt and hope for a star player to come available. There will also be unexpected names pop up for the Heat.