Transaction Window Free Agent Targets for Miami
In the lead up to the return of the NBA, a transaction window has been opened to allow teams to sign players for the playoff push. For the Miami Heat, their potential options will be limited. They already have a deep flexible roster that won’t be improved much by the type of fringe rotation players available in the transaction window.
The Heat’s biggest concern is the level of their top-end talent. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are All-Stars, sure, but they’re not quite at the level of LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, or Giannis Antetokounmpo. That said, there still could be some players amongst those available that could be great “break in case of emergency” backups.
If there’s any player available in the transaction window potentially capable of making a huge impact, it's DeMarcus Cousins. A four-time All-Star, Cousins was an extraordinary talent until a series of terrible injuries derailed his career. Originally out for the season due to knee injury, the extended break could give Cousins a chance to return to an NBA team for the playoff push. The big question for any team looking to sign Cousins, though, is what shape he’ll be in when he gets back; doubly so for a Miami Heat team built on high-level conditioning. On top of that, there are concerns about fit and familiarity with Miami’s system. There is a chance for upside if he regains his outside shot and shows he can continue to be a playmaking hub on offense. That all said, I think the chances are low the Heat sign him.
A more realistic but low key signing for the Heat could be Gerald Green. Green spent a year with the Heat during the 2015-16 season, so he’s at least familiar with the Heat’s expectations in regards to conditioning and defense. Additionally, he’s a reliable outside shooter that can help stretch the floor. On the other hand, there’s a good reason he fell out with the Heat and spent most of his career bouncing around teams. He found some success as a floor spacer in the Houston Rocket’s system but was traded to the Nuggets and subsequently waived. Like Cousins, I think this is a low chance signing, but the fit makes more sense than Cousins.
The last, and in my opinion most realistic, potential signing is Tyler Johnson. Originally a two-way player for the Heat, Johnson carved out consistent minutes during his time with Miami with his hard work, athleticism, and consistent outside shot. Arguably the only reason he isn’t with the team now is due to a huge contract he signed back in the summer of 2016 that he couldn’t live up to, which led to him being traded to the Phoenix Suns as Miami moved money around to clear out their books. Now that the contract has expired and he’s been waived by the Phoenix Suns, he’s available to come back to the Heat. As the team he had most success with and was a contributing rotational player for, it would make a lot of sense for Miami to at least consider bringing back Tyler Johnson.
As stated earlier, the Heat find themselves in a peculiar situation where they already have depth, limiting their options during the transaction window. Cousins has the most upside, but there’s concerns regarding health and fit that will most likely keep him off Miami’s radar while another team swoops in to get him. Green could be a potential addition as he at least has some familiarity, but the Heat may not be willing to give him another chance when he didn’t make the most of his first one. Tyler Johnson remains the best option for Miami to go after, he’s already proven himself effective in Miami’s system and was let go mainly due to being overpaid for his contributions. Without that, he’d be a great fit for the Heat, even if he ends up a fringe rotation player. The good news, even if Miami doesn’t sign anyway, they’ve still got a deep and flexible roster that can make some noise in the playoffs.