5 Players The Miami Heat Could Be Looking To Target This Season

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Following the Miami Heat‘s 105-87 loss to the Utah Jazz, the Heat have dropped to a record of 12-14.

Despite Dwyane Wade’s 42 points, including 21 free throw attempts, Miami was unable to defeat the second-worst team in the Western Conference. Chris Bosh is out for the near future due to a calf strain, while Josh McRoberts is likely out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury that requires surgery,

The Heat have had their projected starting lineup on the court for a total of 34 minutes together. That lineup was supposed to be Bosh, McRoberts, Luol Deng, Wade and Norris Cole.

All five of the aforementioned players have missed periods of time due to injury. Bosh has missed the last three games, McRoberts has been out nine out of a possible 26 contests, Deng was inactive for two matchups, Wade was absent for seven games and Cole was hurt for four matchups.

This has resulted in the Heat using 11 different starting lineups through just 26 games.

The team is currently seeking a $2.65 million player exception due to the injury of McRoberts. If Miami is granted this player exception by the NBA, the Heat would receive half of McRoberts’ annual salary to be used toward a player in the final year of his contract, or in a one-year deal with a free agent.

While a player exception would give the franchise a little bit of cap flexibility, the Heat might want to look for help regardless of whether or not they’re granted the exception.

In the loss to the Jazz, Chris Andersen started a game for the first time in his Heat career. It’s clear Erik Spoelstra is desperate to find a spark for a team that is struggling due to injuries and terrible team defense.

Pat Riley will likely be looking toward the trading block to find pieces that can provide a boost to a team that might slip out of the playoff race as the season progresses. Here are five players the Heat could look to target before the trade deadline:

1. Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson of the Charlotte Hornets

Lance Stephenson was a highly regarded free agent commodity. He ended up signing what was essentially a two-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets for $18 million total.

However, the Hornets have been one of the worst teams in the NBA after last season in which they made it to the playoffs. Charlotte is currently sitting at 6-19 and recently lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game that saw the Hornets fall in a 21-0 hole to start the game.

Because it’s unlikely Charlotte will make it to the postseason in back-to-back years and because Stephenson has been a huge disappointment through the first 25 games with his new club, the 24-year-old shooting guard is widely regarded to be on the trading block.

Stephenson is averaging just 10.3 points, seven rebounds and 4.9 assists per game on just 39 percent from the field. The Hornets rank 21st or worse in offensive and defensive points per game, along with rebounds and assists per contest. To put matters bluntly, Stephenson isn’t helping those matters.

The problem for the Heat comes down to this—Stephenson is not in the last year of his contract. Therefore, Miami cannot use its possible player exception on Stephenson because he has two years left on his deal.

However, the University of Cincinnati product has proven in the past with the Indiana Pacers (against the Heat no less) that he can be an absolute pest of a defender.

Acquiring Stephenson all comes down to a matter of whether or not the Heat want to pay such an acquisition cost of $9 million a year while giving up young assets.

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D.J. Siddiqi grew up in the heart of South Florida in Broward County. Growing up in South Florida during the late 90's and 2000's, D.J. witnessed the Pat Riley years where the Miami Heat faced off with the New York Knicks all the way to the painful late 2000's seasons where the Heat were a one-man team with Dwyane Wade. D.J. has closely followed the Heat over the past decade-and-a-half, and unfortunately witnessed Game 2 of the 2011 NBA Finals in person when the Dallas Mavericks overcame a 15-point deficit to knock off the Heat. D.J. has writing experience as a columnist with sites such as Bleacher Report and Rant Sports, and he is proud to bring his knowledge of the Heat and the NBA to Heat Nation.