The Miami Heat made a stunning run to the Finals last season, where they ultimately lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. And though injuries played a large role in that defeat, it was also clear that they need another star if they want to consistently compete for titles with this group.
It's no secret that the Heat have been active in that search. Back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is their main target, though there are a few roadblocks to their path to signing him in free agency. For one, he still might sign an extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, which would keep him in the Midwest for the foreseeable future. Plus, the Heat giving Bam Adebayo a max extension this offseason will make it more difficult to manage the salary cap aspects of such a deal if Giannis does hit free agency.
But, of course, Giannis isn't the only star who could be available. The Heat are also interested in Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal, and he'll become their top priority if a move for the Greek Freak fails to materialize, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
If Giannis Antetokounmpo signs a max extension with the Bucks, Washington guard Bradley Beal becomes the No. 1 Heat target if or when he becomes available. The Heat's interest remains very high, according to a source with direct knowledge.
But it likely would take Tyler Herro, probably either Duncan Robinson or Precious Achiuwa, and a 2025 first-rounder (which can be traded only if OKC is willing to unlock protections on Miami's 2023 pick) and veteran cap facilitators (such as Kelly Olynyk) to make a competitive offer. And even that might be topped by Denver, Boston or another team.
If Antetokounmpo stays in Milwaukee and Beal either stays with the Wizards or is traded elsewhere, the next most-likely option would be Indiana guard Victor Oladipo — but only if he returns to an All-Star level.
While Giannis is obviously the more talented player, you could make an argument that Beal would actually be the more natural fit for this Heat team. Miami already has its star big man in Adebayo, and it could be a challenge figuring out the fit with a potential lineup that features Giannis, Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.
Meanwhile, the Heat desperately need another wing scorer, and Beal is a serious threat from outside and one of the best in the league at creating his own shot. The main challenge with pursuing Beal, though, is that he isn't a free agent, so they'd have to give up a big haul of young players and picks to get him, and that's only if the Wizards are open to a trade.
As for the note about Oladipo, we'll have to just wait and see on that front. After looking a bit shaky in his return from injury last season, he's going to have to prove himself again before contenders are lining up to acquire him.
Regardless of what happens, the Heat are well positioned to contend not only now, but in the future. And if we've learned anything about Pat Riley over the past few decades, he's not scared to make bold moves if he thinks it will put his team in a better position to win a title.