If NBA free agency is about prioritizing, then put Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Luol Deng near the top of the Miami Heat's wish list.
Whether Heat President Pat Riley has the means to close such deals is another story.
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With the stroke of midnight and the start of the free-agency negotiating period Tuesday, the Heat were among the first teams to express interest in that duo, also making interest known to several other free agents, according to numerous media reports.
In addition to Lowry and Deng, reports, often fueled by agents seeking to increase the market for their players, also linked the Heat to free-agent interest in Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Utah Jazz forward Marvin Williams, Dallas Mavericks guard Vince Carter, Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, Washington Wizards forward Trevor Booker, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Caron Butler and Golden State Warriors guard Steve Blake.
The Heat also reportedly expressed interest in Sacramento Kings guard Isaiah Thomas, who is a restricted free agent, with Sacramento retaining the right to match outside offers.
The Heat to this point have not shown up on Carmelo Anthony's itinerary, with the New York Knicks forward beginning his free-agency rounds with a Tuesday visit to the Chicago Bulls.
As for the Heat's stars, they're apparently letting Riley handle the work for them while they get away. Forward Chris Bosh is on an extended break, with a trip that features a stop in Ghana. Forward LeBron James is planning a trip to Brazil after the July 10 free-agency signing day to attend the World Cup championship game. James is then scheduled for a trip to China, indicating expectations of a swift resolution to his free agency.
Bosh, James and Heat guard Dwyane Wade met last week in Miami to discuss their free-agency approach, with an apparent sliding salary scale forwarded to Riley. Each invoked an early-termination clause in their contract to provide the Heat greater flexibility for a makeover.
None of the Heat's stars have been linked to outside visits, although the Los Angeles Lakers have made overtures to James' agent, Cleveland-based Rich Paul.
Whether the Heat are in position to offer an eight-figure starting salary for 2014-15 to a free agent -- which likely would be required with Lowry and Deng -- is in question.
With James anticipated to sign a contract that starts in the $20 million range for next season, the ultimate givebacks apparently will come from Wade and Bosh.
The Portland Oregonian on Tuesday reported Bosh has agreed on a five-year contract that starts at $11 million next season, with Wade having agreed to a four-year deal that starts at $12 million. Henry Thomas, agent for both Bosh and Wade, later denied to the Sun Sentinel such agreements with his clients.
No deals can be finalized before July 10, the first day contracts can be signed this offseason, with several league insiders questioning the extent of such givebacks from players who otherwise would have earned in excess of $20 million had they not invoked early-termination options by Monday's deadline.
Such massive concessions would leave the Heat positioned to not only meet their salary obligation to forward Udonis Haslem, but possibly also satisfy Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and others with the remaining cap space and a $2.7 million salary-cap exception that also would be available.
While a Wade salary concession has been expected, in return for a contract longer than the two years he had remaining on his previous contract, Bosh's salary could be the lynchpin in being able to augment the Heat's Big Three configuration.
Should the Heat find a trade partner for point guard Norris Cole, the lone remaining player on the roster with guaranteed money, the Heat could move into $10 million-plus in cap space, in addition to the follow-up opportunity to utilize that $2.7 million exception.
The Heat have taken an approach of subtle additions to their core in recent years, adding Shane Battier in the 2011 offseason, Allen in the 2012 offseason and Michael Beasley and Greg Oden last offseason. This, however, is the first time they have operated with the possibility of cap space since James, Wade and Bosh signed to play together in South Florida in July 2010.
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