What happens when the greatest player on earth opts out of his contract with your team and appears ready to test free agency? You make whatever moves you can to make him happy. For all his comments about not running through the first door you find at the first sign of adversity, Pat Riley knows LeBron James is still leaving that door open for now. So what does he do? Whatever will make the Miami Heat LeBron’s best option.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, the Heat are looking to trade up in the 2014 NBA Draft in order to acquire UCONN point guard and two-time NCAA champion Shabazz Napier. Ford reports that Miami is aggressively shopping their pick (No. 26) and Norris Cole in order to move up into the teens.
Unfortunately, the Heat will have a hard time doing so after Cole’s less than stellar playoff performance. While he’s a young and hard working backup who brings defense and championship experience to the table, Cole struggles with his jump shot (41 percent this year) and isn’t the kind of piece that will move you very far up in such a deep draft.
Furthermore, Napier has been shooting up draft boards since pre-draft workouts began. Ford reports that the Orlando Magic (No. 12), Atlanta Hawks (No. 15), Chicago Bulls (No. 16) and Boston Celtics (No. 17) are all seriously considering taking Napier with their picks. That’s a shame, since after LeBron said the Heat needed to upgrade at nearly every position, Napier seems to be his point guard of choice:
No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 8, 2014
Riley also took a liking to Napier after flying him out for a workout following the NBA Finals. He may be forced to part with another future first rounder in order to move up high enough to have a shot at this small, but NBA-ready point guard who may just make Miami a little more attractive to the Heat’s superstar free agent.