Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
After an incredible Game 5 duel, the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers have at least one more game to decide who goes home with the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Meanwhile, the rest of the NBA looks toward free agency.
Although the draft has its date set for November 18, the window for signing free agents has yet to have its opening scheduled. Still, fans are anxious to know which directions their teams and favorite players might trend toward.
Here, we’ll look at two of the more intriguing recent rumors, including some of the bigger names in 2020’s free-agent class. While the top two players, Anthony Davis (player option, contending for a championship right now) and Brandon Ingram (restricted free agent, won’t be given up lightly), are unlikely to change scenery, some of the other notable options could begin next season in new uniforms.
Fred VanVleet a Priority for the New York Knicks?
For a while now, New York Knicks fans have had their eyes set on Fred VanVleet. A confident, adept scorer despite limited stature at just 6’0″, VanVleet has the versatile scoring touch and clutch factor the Knicks have sorely lacked for years.
According to league sources of SNY’s Ian Begley, New York’s front office is as keen on VanVleet as the city’s fans are. He reports that the club is considering an offer of over $20 million for the 26-year-old unrestricted free agent, which would be very hard for the Toronto Raptors (or most other clubs) to outbid.
The possibility remains that a point guard like Tyrese Haliburton or Killian Hayes drops to New York at No. 8 in the draft, which would make them less likely to go after another guard if they intend for RJ Barrett to split ball-handling duties. Further, Begley also reports that Dennis Smith Jr. “still has significant support in the organization.” Nonetheless, VanVleet just averaged 17.6 points and 6.6 assists per game this season, and one has to believe that he is the preferred running mate for Barrett in 2020-21 and beyond.
Miami Heat Bolster Roster Ahead of 2021
If one thing has been made abundantly clear by the NBA playoffs, it is that the Miami Heat have an incredible organizational culture. Similar to the start of the Golden State Warriors’ run of championships, the Heat have displayed a unified character across the roster, coaching staff and front office that exudes a winning mentality.
And it appears Miami’s intangibles have begun taking form for opposing players as well, with The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reporting that NBA executives “believe the Heat have become the league’s top destination for the next star with a wandering eye.”
With the next batch of stars likely not becoming available until 2021, the Heat can prioritize some of the other talent in this year’s class. That means re-signing a valuable piece like Goran Dragic and possibly attracting frontcourt depth in Montrezl Harrell.
Should the Heat continue to improve with some quality additions and progress from their younger players, possibly including someone like Kira Lewis Jr. if they’re able to land him in the draft, then Miami will become a very attractive new home in 2021. That could be especially important if Giannis Antetokounmpo gets tired of Milwaukee weather and disappointing playoff runs.