When NBA free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the Miami Heat will have more salary cap space than any other team in the league. The team is expected to devote much of the more than $50 million in cap space to LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade.
But, the team is also in the market for both big name and lesser known players who might help the team make it to a fifth straight NBA Finals next season. In addition, the Heat could clear an additional $2 million in salary cap space by trading backup point guard Norris Cole.
The Heat will have the option of using salary cap space to sign free agents or can use several exceptions including the full mid-level exception, a bi-annual exception, and a trade exception from the trade of Joel Anthony last season.
So who might the Heat target with their free agent money?
The player that has been most frequently associated with the Heat in the last few days is Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. Adding Lowry would give the Heat a dynamic point guard who averaged 17.9 points, 7.4 assists, and 4.7 rebounds last season. Lowry is also a solid defender which would fit into the Heat’s defensive first philosophy.
Still, the nine-year veteran is expected to have a multitude of suitors including the Raptors, who can offer Lowry the most money.
Center Pau Gasol would give the Heat an interesting scoring and rebounding option down low if he chose to sign with Miami. However, Gasol has set up meetings with several other teams at the beginning of free agency and Miami isn’t among them.
While there were rumblings about bringing Carmelo Anthony to Miami, the salary sacrifices that would be required of the Heat’s Big Three and Anthony would likely be too much to get them all under contract in the Magic City.
Among the second tier of free agents, Vince Carter is reportedly a possible target for the Heat. Carter shot nearly 40 percent from behind the three-point line last season and excelled coming off the bench for the Dallas Mavericks last season.
Some other names that could be on the list include Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, and others.