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Miami Heat expected to be ‘hunters’ for NBA star this summer, 3 potential targets

Matt Johnson
Miami Heat
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami heat experienced another disappointing finish in the NBA Playoffs, pushing them into the offseason motivated to make changes. In what could be one of the most crucial summer periods in franchise history, expectations are already high for Miami.

Adding an impact talent via free agency is unlikely. Miami lacks the cap space for a big move and the best NBA free agents are likely going to re-sign with their teams. As a result, it leaves the Heat in a position where swinging a blockbuster trade is the only avenue for major changes.

Related: Bradley Beal to the Miami Heat, how it might work

As of now, the options seem limited. No superstar has requested a trade at this point, with the biggest names either committed to their current organization or wanting to exercise patience. However, an All-Star becomes available every year and when that happens this summer, Miami is expected to make a run.

Appearing on the Rich Eisen Show, Brian Windhorst of ESPN explained why he expects the Heat to be hunting for any star that becomes available this offseason.

“They will hunt whoever becomes available,…Somebody will be coming available, whether it happens within the next two weeks or whether it happens within six months, Pat Riley will always hunt stars who will want to be in Miami, and they have a good team, and they have good pieces.”

Brian Windhorst on Miami Heat likely pursuing an NBA star

Related: Miami Heat draft picks, ideal trade scenarios

It’s only fitting that Pat Riley would seek out any upgrade to the lineup he can find. For Miami’s top executive, nine consecutive seasons without a championship isn’t acceptable. He also recognizes that in order to avoid a decade-long drought, something needs to change.

Identifying 3 potential Miami Heat trade targets

NBA: Miami Heat at Utah Jazz
Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Miami wants to find a player who can help take pressure off Jimmy Butler. Even if their potential target is a greater liability on the defensive end than the coaching staff might prefer, scoring also matters. As the Eastern Conference Finals showed, the Heat needed someone to step up alongside Butler.

Fortunately for Riley and Butler, there are a few possibilities who at least have a shot at becoming available this summer.

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

Following the departure of Quin Snyder, Donovan Mitchell isn’t happy. After years of playoff disappointment in Utah, Mitchell could see an opportunity to force his way out. The Jazz are at a tipping point, weighing huge changes to the roster and any move they make likely won’t be good enough to compete for a championship.

Recognizing this and aware that Salt Lake City isn’t a great place for NBA stars, it’s realistic to think Mitchell eventually asks for a trade. If that happens, Miami will likely be near the front of the line to make an offer.

Related: 3 offseason moves for Miami Heat

Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

Bradley Beal has been loyal to the Wizards’ organization for years, arguably longer than he should have. While there is a lot of appeal for the impending free agent in signing one of the largest contracts in NBA history, Beal is still a competitor with championship aspirations. That’s not a level the Wizards are remotely close to approaching. After years of giving everything to this franchise, Beal might be ready for a change. A natural fit alongside Butler, he would squarely be on Riley’s radar.

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard is open to being traded, if that’s what the organization wants. It’s a bit of a change for the perennial All-Star guard who previously only expressed a desire to finish his career in a Trail Blazers’ uniform. Injuries and age are becoming a bit of an issue for Lillard, but he is still an outstanding guard who would be an upgrade over Kyle Lowry.