Trade talks about bringing Kevin Durant from Brooklyn to Miami are stalled out (as they are to send Durant anywhere). The Nets want a haul befitting one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen — one bigger than the Jazz got for Rudy Gobert — and Utah is lukewarm on a trade package based around Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.
One way Miami could unstick the trade talks would be to include Bam Adebayo.
The Heat have shown zero interest in that so far — they want to pair Durant, Adebayo and Jimmy Butler — but that doesn’t stop the speculation and rumors. When asked about the rumors by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel during Heat’s youth basketball clinic at Hard Rock Stadium this week, Adebayo basically shrugged.
“It is what it is, control what you can control,” said Adebayo, who has been viewed as a lynchpin to a possible deal for Durant. “Obviously it’s an opportunity for something, but in my opinion, control what you can control. I can’t control that.
“So do what I’ve been doing. I get up early. I work out. Having fun with these kids. And I’m going to go home and go to sleep.”
A five-year NBA veteran, Adebayo has heard his name in trade speculation before and knows how to handle it like a professional. Which is to say, ignore it. The Heat have been in the middle of trade rumors for both Durant and Donovan Mitchell, although reportedly they are more focused on KD (the Jazz have prioritized picks in return for Mitchell and the Heat can’t match the Knicks on that front).
Miami has resisted calls to put Adebayo in the trade package for Durant (that trade would require Ben Simmons to come back to Miami, or to a third team, because of the arcane designated rookie rule). If the Heat sent Adebayo and Herro to the Nets, would Miami with a core of Butler, Durant and Kyle Lowry (all past age 30, and maybe with Simmons) be better than Boston or Milwaukee? No. In Adebayo, the Heat have a Defensive Player of the Year level center (he was fourth in this year’s voting) who also scores 19.1 points a game, can serve as a secondary playmaker in the offense, and who grabbed 10.1 rebounds a game last season — and is just 25. Of course the Nets want Adebayo, but the Heat are right not to include him in trade packages. Miami needs Adebayo to contend.
There is a sense the Heat need to do something to keep up in the East. Boston got better this summer (adding Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari), the 76ers got better (adding P.J. Tucker, Danuel House and De'Anthony Melton), and the Bucks will get healthy and have All-Star/Olympian Khris Middleton for their playoff run. On paper, Miami could have slid to fourth in the conference (and Toronto is not that far behind them).
But the Heat went seven games against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, they are not far away from a return to basketball’s biggest stage. Miami’s front office knows it needs Adebayo to get there, which is why he is not part of any serious trade package despite the speculation and rumors.