Miami’s Chase For Durant Could Come At A Cost

Kevin Durant is trying to decide where he wants to play next season. He has a meeting scheduled with the team he has played his entire career with, the Oklahoma City Thunder. But along with the Thunder, the talented small forward has meetings scheduled with the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. Of those teams, the Golden State Warriors and the Thunder are the teams that are where most think he will sign. But there is one team that has to be watched out for in this equation. That team is the Miami Heat. If you don't think they will be one to watch, then let's remember what happened back in the summer of 2010. Everyone was trying to figure out where LeBron James would land. He, forward Chris Bosh and guard Dwyane Wade were all free agents. No one really gave the Heat a big chance to sign James at that time. Many thought he was coming back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But not only did the Heat land James, but they landed Bosh and re-signed Wade. And with those three in Miami for four years, they went to four straight NBA Finals and won two championships. So to those that are counting Miami out, don't forget about the persuasion of Heat team president Pat Riley. But do the Heat want to get Durant more than they want to keep a certain important free agent on their team?

Durant is not the only key free agent out there that Miami wants to have playing for them next season. One of the best free agents in this class wore their uniform last season and he was a success story that no one expected. Hassan Whiteside was out of the NBA after washing out with the Sacramento Kings in two years (Whiteside was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft by Sacramento) and many thought his career was over. But in 2014, the Miami Heat found him at a YMCA and there he peaked their interest enough to bring him to the organization. And ever since then, Whiteside has been a force on their team. And despite some occasional mental blowups, Whiteside's ability to take over a game defensively with his size (7' foot tall), long arms and his leaping ability is rare and hard to come by.  And to add to that, he can also run and finish on the fast break. If Miami would get him to sign back, the Heat would have a defensive anchor very similar to Clippers center Deandre Jordan. But unlike Jordan, Whiteside can score offensively and be the guy the Heat can go to and ask to finish inside. And with the Heat not looking like they will clear Chris Bosh to play anytime soon, signing Whiteside back would be huge.

But much like Whiteside is a defensive wizard when he wants to be, so is Durant on the offensive end of the court. Durant can hit any shot from any angle and with anyone guarding him. He shoots some bad shots, but he hits a lot of them as well, shooting a career 48.3% from the field, including a career 39% from three-point range. Having Durant alongside veteran Dwyane Wade would almost be like passing the torch to the next superstar in Miami. Wade, for as much as he has given to the Heat organization, may not have many years left to make it happen there like he has. With Durant, he would take the pressure off Wade to be the lead guy every night on the perimeter like he was last season. And under Wade and Pat Riley, it would allow Durant to learn more of what it takes to be a champion in the NBA. Of course, with all Durant can do offensively, he still has some questions defensively. Being around Wade would more than likely push him to be better defensively, but he clearly does not give the same effort at all times on offense as he does on defense. Durant would improve their offense greatly, but that would not mean much if they are getting scored on more.

Wade will more than likely re-sign and it will more than likely be his last playing deal with the Miami Heat. And it looks like health will knock Bosh out of the Heat's plans for the future. For the Heat, they have to decide what they want to do. Are they willing to go all in for Kevin Durant in hopes of getting him? And if the Heat are intent on pursuing Durant and miss, does that allow another team to slide in and pry Whiteside away from them? Only time will tell, but the Heat have to play this one smooth. They are currently running the risk of losing Whiteside and not obtaining Durant. And if that happens, then that means Wade and point guard Goran Dragic will be the guys trying to lead this team in the East. And that combination cannot lead them to an Eastern Conference title. It will be interesting to see what direction Riley leans heaviest this offseason and what he may be able to pull off. It appears he can only get either Durant or Whiteside, but he has pulled magic once in 2010. Who's to say he cannot do it again? This could be one of his toughest tricks yet.

Pat Riley

For more sports talk, feel free to follow me on Twitter or check me out on Facebook.

No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment