The Miami Heat may be starting to sweat just a little bit now that we’re five days into free agency, with LeBron James having long since opted out of the final two years of his deal, and it appearing more and more likely that he’s seriously considering other options.
The pressure is increasing by the moment for the Heat to come up with a plan to upgrade the roster by adding some free agent talent, and the early contracts that have been given out to guys like Kyle Lowry and Avery Bradley might mean that the market will be more expensive than anticipated originally.
But Heat president Pat Riley is pressing on, and has plans to meet with at least one high profile free agent on Saturday.
Miami president Pat Riley plans to meet with free agent Luol Deng in Chicago today, league source tells Yahoo.
Deng is a two-time All-Star and an unrestricted free agent who played nine full seasons with the Bulls, before being traded to the Cavaliers midway through his 10th in a move made strictly to dump salary. He’s a capable two-way player who would provide much-needed depth and production on the wing, especially in light of Dwyane Wade’s durability questions over the long grind of the regular season.
The problem for Miami is that Deng isn’t believed to be willing to take a significant pay cut just to play alongside James, Wade and Chris Bosh, and while it’s unclear just how much cap space the Heat will have to spend once those three restructure the finances of their next deals, Deng would appear to be out of the team’s price range.
But Riley has always been known as a master motivator, and as the team gets more desperate to improve, he may be able to come up with the right combination of dollars and sense to convince Deng that signing with the Heat, even for less than market value, is ultimately what’s best.
Joel Embiid on Monday will have an MRI on his injured left knee and is now listed as out indefinitely.
Embiid has been experiencing swelling and soreness in the left knee injury that has caused him to miss 16 out of the last 17 games. Bryan Colangelo announced back on Feb. 11 that Embiid has a minor meniscal tear. In his most recent press conference last Friday, Colangelo had targeted this Friday’s home game against the Knicks as a possibility for Embiid’s return. Now, that isn’t the case.
Embiid had been the biggest ray of hope for Philadelphia, but the 76ers shouldn’t chase watchability down the stretch. Sit Embiid until he’s fully healthy and secure the best draft position possible.
Maybe Embiid’s body just can’t handle the rigors of NBA basketball, but Philadelphia has no choice but to hope for the best with him and Simmons. And hope the nail the their first-round pick this year and get the Lakers’ first-rounder.
This could still be a dangerously good team in coming years. The Process created that potential.
But the threat of injury always looms around the corner, maybe especially so for Embiid.
Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah likely to miss rest of season after knee surgery
Prepare for the talk next fall about Noah feeling refreshed and ready to help the Knicks.
But this surgery won’t reverse the underlying problem: Noah is a 31-year-old big man with heavy mileage. He can manage his knees, but it’s probably too late for him to regain enough athleticism to reliably contribute.
Just three years and $55 million+ remaining on his contract, which already looked like the NBA’s worst deal and is now even more unfavorable.
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