The Miami Heat were linked to almost every significant player who was available this offseason, highlighted by Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and Jrue Holiday.
But despite their quest for a third star to add to their lineup, they reportedly never had interest in acquiring James Harden.
The 34-year-old former NBA MVP was finally traded by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Los Angeles Clippers this week, ending months of speculation of how his saga with 76ers executive Daryl Morey would end.
“Daryl Morey, I heard, was on very little sleep over the past few nights working the phones on the James Harden deal,” said Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “I know Tyrese Maxey has played well, but it seemed like it was at a point where this was the best deal the Sixers were going to get because the Clippers were the only team seriously interested. New York called a while back, but that was just due diligence, but nothing was ever serious there. I’m told Miami never had interest in Harden.”
The Heat are off to a disappointing 1-4 start to the 2023-24 NBA season, with their only victory coming by one point in the opener against the Detroit Pistons. One could argue that they could use a player with the offensive talents of Harden, but it might’ve been hard for him to adapt to the vaunted Heat culture.
For now, the Heat will have to ride Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro while waiting for their supporting players to adapt to their roles.
Herro was a constant subject of trade rumors this offseason, especially involving Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers. The 23-year-old is off to an outstanding start, leading the Heat in scoring in each game of their current four-game losing streak while averaging 26.2 points per contest for the season. He also has been vocal about the need for the team to show some urgency.
Butler is not off to such a good start at 16.5 points per game while shooting just 35.7 percent from the field. In addition, a friend of his took to social media to criticize the team for not getting him more help on the roster.
In theory, that could have been Harden after the Heat missed out on Beal (who went to the Phoenix Suns) and Holiday (who wound up with the Boston Celtics) in addition to Lillard being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks.
But based on the former scoring champion’s reputation for leaving teams and falling short in the playoffs, the Heat may have been wise to choose a different path. They now have to hope that they have enough to turn around their early-season slump and again contend for the championship after falling short in the NBA Finals last season.