NBA insiders label Miami Heat as team to watch for Giannis Antetokounmpo

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The Miami Heat are being named as a team to watch if Giannis Antetokounmpo ultimately decides he wants to leave the Milwaukee Bucks, with NBA insiders mentioning Miami’s ongoing search for another star player.

With the Heat still in pursuit of Damian Lillard and Portland Trail Blazers reportedly rekindling talks after their franchise player requested a trade two months ago, rumors about Antetokounmpo potentially doing the same from the Bucks have changed the landscape.

It is creating what could be several difficult scenarios for the Heat to sort through as they look for a third star to combine with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in search of another NBA championship.

ESPN insider Zach Lowe has said the problem for the Heat regarding an Antetokounmpo trade is the same one they have with the Trail Blazers and Lillard: They do not have much to offer. Yet if they did have high-quality players to spare, they perhaps wouldn’t be longing for such a significant upgrade.

But insider Ramona Shelburne reminded that Miami can never be discounted when a superstar becomes available. The Heat have a very a successful history of adding top players and them winning championships, with Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James two examples of that strategy.

One insider spelled out how Miami’s pursuit of Lillard could jeopardize its efforts to land Antetokounmpo if the two-time NBA MVP does hit the trade market. With the Heat trying to use Tyler Herro as the centerpiece of a Lillard deal, the Wisconsin native could be unavailable if the Bucks want to land a hometown star who may appease their fans.

Antetokounmpo has increased speculation that he is looking to leave the Bucks by telling the New York Times he will not entertain the idea of a contract extension until he is certain they are committed to winning another championship. Later this month, the 28-year-old will be eligible to extend his current deal that includes the 2024-25 season with a player option for the 2025-26 campaign.

The Heat are in an interesting position with Antetokounmpo entering the rumor mill at the same time the Lillard talks may be getting revived. It does give Miami some very attractive options, but the franchise may also have to make a very difficult decision on which superstar it ultimately wants.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.