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Is Miami setting up a push for Kevin Durant?

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The Heat have a contender in their current roster, but many believe that they are just setting up to pursue Kevin Durant in free agency. Miami's chances of landing Durant are realistic, it's not as if they haven't grabbed big names before.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Presently, Kevin Durant has no intention of leaving Oklahoma City in the 2016 free agency period, but as we learned in the DeAndre Jordan fiasco just a couple of months ago, anything can happen when money is involved. With that being said, Miami has been linked to Durant in the past as a possible free agency destination and it's not as if the Heat haven't landed big name stars before.

So now the question is whether or not the Heat are planning on pulling out all the stops to land Durant. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel seems to think so, when asked whether or not Miami was serious about pursuing Kevin Durant, Winderman replied saying:

"Is Pat Riley plotting in that direction? Absolutely. But I think it will take a certain degree of tearing up the roster also and that’s why I think for a team that has traded away all of its first-round picks basically beyond 2021 and has limited resources, that Hassan Whiteside also could be a trade chip. That if the NBA does go to small ball and if the Heat can be comfortable with Bosh and McRoberts, which I really want to see in the preseason, then there’s a chance instead of waiting to pay Hassan Whiteside I could see if the Heat make a move like that and sort of cut their ties there to Whiteside at the trading deadline that will be an absolute signal that Pat Riley’s going all-in for Kevin Durant."

Winderman's assessment of the situation is interesting, if not worrisome. I agree that Miami will have to shake up the roster in order to pursue Durant, but the possibility of shedding Whiteside at the deadline scares me, especially if Miami plans on contending this season. With that being said, landing Durant will be nearly impossible with Whiteside on the roster.

There's also the possibility that Hassan implodes this season, which some have predicted as a response to his attitude problems on the court last year, but his work ethic this summer weighs heavily against those predictions. I think Zach Lowe put it best in his analysis of this season's Heat team saying:

"Next summer, Miami could open up nearly $40 million in cap room, and as much as $45 million if it moves McRoberts for extra cap space. That’s a ton, but if Whiteside has even a solid season, it’s not enough to bring back both Whiteside and Wade while signing an outside star; the Heat will not have full Bird rights on Whiteside, meaning they will have to dip into cap space to re-sign him. Consider one example: Durant’s max salary for 2016-17 will be about $25 million, leaving $15 million or $20 million to split between Wade and Whiteside. That won’t do it, unless Wade takes a massive hometown discount. (By the way: Rail against the Durant rumor mill if you want, but you’re kidding yourselves if you don’t think Riley will set Miami up to make a run at him.)"

Miami is unpredictable when it comes to acquiring talent, very few predicted both Bosh and LeBron joining Miami in 2010 and in his 20 year tenure with the Heat, Pat Riley has been nothing short of phenomenal. Obviously, one can only speculate at this moment in time, but it's hard not to fantasize about a team with Kevin Durant, Bosh, and Wade.

Whatever the case everything will be revealed in time, now it's time to focus on the upcoming season.