John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com reported this week that the Heat had tried to acquire then-76ers center Nikola Vucevic "feverishly" for one or both of their point guards before the center was traded to Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade a year ago.
If #Heat had dealt MChalmers and/or NCole last summer Nik Vucevic would have been their center and they likely would have won for yrs 2 come— John Denton (@JohnDenton555) March 7, 2013
I can see you asking "OK, rumor from a year ago about a deal that didn't happen... and I care... why?"
Here's why it's interesting.
1. Putting Mario Chalmers on the block would be a pretty big deal. Chalmers re-signed with the Heat in 2012, and helped them win their first championship of the Triad era. He's certainly drawn the ire of the Heat before; heck, there's a Tumblr just of people yelling at him. But the Heat may not win either of the past two titles without his contributions, particularly his huge Game 2 vs. the Spurs this year.
2. Cole has proven to be a pretty valuable spark plug off the bench, and is one of the few young players on the roster and the only one to get significant time. Bailing on him this early would mean they felt they really needed to improve in an area.
3. Vucevic is a beast, and that was pretty evident even before he exploded in Orlando last year. Doug Collins wasn't playing him, because, well, he's Doug Collins and he does things like that, but Vucevic showed a lot in limited time. But even with the skill and muscle he showed, this would have been a move away from the small-ball approach the Heat have primarily used to win two titles.
Vucevic may not have started, but he would have gotten more minutes than Chris Andersen last season or what Greg Oden is expected to play this season. It goes against what the Heat have promoted as their strength, their speed and flexibility with Chris Bosh at the 5 and Shane Battier and LeBron James playing combo forward. That small-ball approach was the idea of Erik Spoelstra, and something GM Pat Riley had resisted. If this rumor's true, it shows there may have still been a little bit of a disconnect between Riley and Spoelstra on the issue, even after the title win.
Either way, kind of an interesting trade that never was.