The Miami Heat currently sit in the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference as they look to climb their way back into the playoff conversation as one of the top teams. The Heat have struggled at points this year at the four position and the organization must feel the same way as well.
According to the Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson, the Miami Heat are among teams interested in Sacramento Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica. The 32-year-old only played in 11 games this season and is averaging 7.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 16.3 minutes per game.
Bjelica has been out due to back spasms and returned into the rotation Friday night as he scored 15 points in 28 minutes. Let’s take a look into what it would take to acquire the forward and what it would mean for the Heat’s rotation.
How can the Miami Heat trade for Nemanja Bjelica?
There are two Eastern Conference playoff contenders that are believed to be interested in Nemanja Bjelica. Jason Anderson said those two teams are believed to be the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers.
The Heat have a $7.6 million trade exception that they can use to absorb Bjelica’s salary. The question Miami will have to ask is whether Bjelica is truly a big upgrade over Kelly Olynyk, who has been the starting four for a majority of the season. Olynyk is averaging 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game this season.
Since the Heat would acquire Bjelica with their trade exception, they would most likely need to cut someone. Chris Silva comes to mind since he has been injured and sits at the end of the bench when healthy anyway. Miami cannot cut any of its two-way contracts and fit another player on the roster.
The Heat have until just before the NBA Trade Deadline at 3:00 pm EST on March 25th, 2021 to use the trade exception created from the Andre Iguodala deal last season. Since Miami has some holes to fill, don’t be surprised if it uses the trade exception, even if it doesn’t end up being Bjelica.
What would Nemanja Bjelica bring to the Miami Heat?
Bjelica averaged a career-high 11.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists while shooting 41.9% from beyond the arc last season. He has struggled with his three-point shot as he is only shooting 25.0% from the arc.
While he has struggled, injuries may have been a catalyst in the poor numbers he has been averaging this season. The Heat desperately need another body at the four position and he would easily fit the criteria. Standing at 6 feet and 11 inches, Bjelica can play either power forward or center next to Bam Adebayo.
Bjelica hasn’t been great defensively this season as he has a 113.1 defensive rating in his 11 played games this season. However, his offense hasn’t been terrible with a 107.3 offensive rating. That could be higher if he wasn’t shooting 25.0% from the three-point line.
The question the Heat will need to ask themselves is whether Bjelica is the right option to use the trade exception on. There are other players available that would fit the exception and there could be a better use for it.
Pat Riley and company are expected to be busy as the NBA Trade Deadline comes closer. Even though the Heat are on a four-game winning streak, they are going into a hard road trip that will almost take them through many of the remaining games until the NBA All-Star break.
The Miami Heat will have a better idea of what to do with the roster after the road trip and should know what their true weakness are and how to address them. Miami will continue to get better internally and maybe even through a transaction.