The Miami Heat's interest in Carmelo Anthony has proven more than cursory, with Heat representatives having met with representatives for the Oklahoma City Thunder forward after being granted such permission by the Thunder, the Sun Sentinel confirmed Tuesday through an NBA source familiar with the discussions.
Anthony, 34, is in the process of buyout negotiations with the Thunder, expected to then become available to interested suitors on a minimal contract.
The Heat-Anthony discussions come in the wake of Heat President Pat Riley watching his team's Sunday game at the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League while seated alongside Thunder General Manager Sam Presti.
The Heat's chances of working out a trade for Anthony in advance of buyout by Oklahoma City are remote, with Anthony due $27.9 million this season by the Thunder, who are looking to shed salary in advance of what sets up as a massive luxury-tax bill following the recent free-agent agreements with Paul George and Jerami Grant.
In the wake of his uneven play in Oklahoma City after a trade a year ago from the New York Knicks, Anthony is seeking to re-establish his value as an All-Star-level forward.
ESPN is reporting that the Heat and Houston Rockets are believed to be the finalists for Anthony's services, with Rockets officials also said to have met with Anthony's representatives.
Asked about the possibility of Anthony joining the Heat, a team expected to fall somewhere in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff pack, the representative of an NBA team at summer league shook his head Tuesday, smiled, and said, "The weather? I don't know why he wouldn't go to Houston. They lost two guys at that position [Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency]."
Anthony ended last season saying he did not want to play as a reserve, which likely would have been his fate with the Thunder going forward. The Heat's starting forwards at the end of last season were James Johnson and Josh Richardson.
A Heat agreement with Anthony likely would assure a Heat return by close friend Dwyane Wade, who currently is a free agent. It also likely would lead to a return by Heat free-agent forward Udonis Haslem.
Anthony, Wade and Haslem are represented by the same agency.
A Heat move for Anthony would represent somewhat of a departure from the Heat's recent contract moves, as well as from the team's developmental approach. Among those whose playing time Anthony could impact are James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, among others, with Anthony considered a power forward at this stage of his career, based on his defensive deficiencies.
One area where Anthony could boost the Heat would be his 3-point shooting, at least his volume of conversions, having made a career-high 169 last season. Wayne Ellington, who set a Heat franchise record for 3-pointers last season, remains an unsigned free agent. Unlike Anthony, Ellington is not as likely to accept a one-year contract, with the Heat potentially looking to create cap space in the 2020 offseason, if not earlier.
An addition of Anthony, could potentially serve as a bridge to the team's next incarnation, at least from a marketing standpoint. The Heat received a boost last season when Wade rejoined the team at midseason, after time with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Heat currently find themselves in a transition period, operating above the NBA salary cap and with only a $5.3 million mid-level exception to acquire additional talent.
The Heat currently have 11 players under contract: Hassan Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, Adebayo, James Johnson, Winslow, Richardson, Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters, Derrick Jones Jr. and Rodney McGruder. The team also has signed undrafted Michigan forward Duncan Robinson to a two-way contract, which does not count against the 15-player regular-season roster limit.
Teams are allowed to carry up to 20 players during the offseason, before a mandatory cut to no more than 15 for the regular season.
Forwards Luke Babbitt and Jordan Mickey are the Heat's other unrestricted free agents, with guard Derrick Walton Jr. a restricted free agent, having received a qualifying offer for another two-way contract.
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