Miami Heat: Could the Heat pursue Anthony Davis in free agency?

At the deadline, the Miami Heat did something nobody expected, opening up enough cap space to have a max deal in free agency. Could they get Anthony Davis?

The Miami Heat have set themselves up nicely for the off-season and potentially the season after. If the team renounces the rights of every free agent they’ll have a little under $29 million in cap space. With Anthony Davis‘s salary being around $3 million more dollars away, they have a few options.

They could kick the can down the road in regards to their upcoming draft pick either by trading it or stashing a player overseas. With the pick’s slotted salary being around $2 million, it gets them roughly $1 million away from having the slot open for Davis which could be something Davis is okay with.

The other route, which could be unnecessary in the unlikely event that he declines his player option, is trade Kelly Olynyk for cap savings, maybe even packaging the pick for bench help. As long as they save roughly  $1-$2 million in cap space with the pick or $3-4 million without it, the team should be able to afford to bring in the star power forward.

Now, I’m sure you’re asking “why on earth would Davis want to play in Miami?”. Well, for starters there’s the legendary Pat Riley in the team’s front office. Riley has given the Heat stability since being in the front office and has shown that he can put together a group and make decisions that lead to winning it all.

Going from the team struggles he’s had with the New Orleans Pelicans, having Riley’s stability could be a selling point for Davis. Add in head coach Eric Spoelstra who has routinely been in the conversation for the best coach in the NBA and led the Miami Heat, and Davis’s teammate LeBron James to a pair of titles.

One of Davis’s biggest needs he’s demanded from teams is that he does not want to play center.  Having Bam Adebayo makes the odds of him moving up to the center spot increasingly unlikely, especially given that the Skills Event champion has yet to miss a game the past two years. With other centers likely brought back or former two-way big Chris Silva given a larger role, the center spot should be taken care of.

Speaking of needs, something that may keep Anthony Davis from wanting to leave the Los Angeles Lakers is that the team has his Bird rights and can offer him the largest deal in free agency due to it. However, Miami being in Florida and the players not having to pay state taxes could bridge the gap in that regard, especially with California being among the states that have the highest state taxes.

From a team perspective, the power forward would be surrounded by the arguably best supporting cast he’s ever had in his career if he joined the Heat. They would be strong at the guard positions with Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, and Jimmy Butler, strong at the forward positions with Duncan Robinson, Andre Iguodala, and Davis himself, and have fellow All-Star Bam Adebayo along with potentially Kelly Olynyk at center. That’s before anyone’s back on the room exception or minimum deal like free agents Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, or Meyers Leonard.

Miami also provides Anthony Davis with a larger factor of certainty going forward. The Lakers will be relying largely on free agency/trades in the next two seasons to surround Davis and LeBron James. Without a larger core being built, and limited trade assets due to the trade that acquired Davis, the Lakers future is left for speculation and optimism.

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For the Heat, they have a young core intact, enough room to potentially add yet another big piece to the Davis/Butler core in 2021, and have young talent that they could trade in a consolidation move, should they need to. Having a team that won’t depend on other things happening and is already a playoff-caliber team should help Miami’s case as well.

Teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers set a precedent this off-season of moving away from a Big 3 and instead going for a pair of stars with the structure of a team already built around them. Miami is arguably the best example of that team in 2020 free agency.

Lastly, the Miami Heat offer Davis the ability to have the team be his own and a part of his legacy rather than LeBron James’s. Davis has had an MVP level season but is minimally talked about as a candidate due to LeBron being on the roster.

In Miami, as the clear-cut best player the star would be able to get the recognition that he deserves. If Davis, like Kyrie Irving, wants to be recognized more, the Heat are a viable option as well.

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