What happens if Hayward joins Isiah Thomas and Al Horford to form a diluted version of a “Big 3” to challenge the Cavaliers? Reid Forgrave’s mock draft has the Celtics getting Paul George via a draft-day trade for Boston’s draft picks. Adrian Wojnarowski reports Hayward and Blake Griffin are Celtics' "primary free-agent targets:"
Boston is really the danger for Blake Griffin. I think Boston's two primary free-agent targets, right now, are Gordon Hayward and Blake Griffin. Now, they're not going to get both of them, but they're both players that would potentially have interest there. I think Boston looks at in different ways with their future.
What are the fall-back plans for Miami, should competitors, favored ahead of it, improve their rosters? Plan A involves getting Hayward, but are the B and C scenarios enough should A fail?
Bleacher Reports and NumberFire both have Lauri Markkanen going to the Heat at number 14. NumberFire lists the team needs at “Power forward production, drawing fouls, free throw shooting.”
The Miami Heat will enter next season with major playoff aspirations, and why wouldn't they? By net PER, Miami was a plus at three of five positions while boasting two players -- Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic -- at a nERD of at least 5.1 on the year.
The free-throw battle, however, is an area of major concern. This season, they ended up 29th in free throws per field goal attempt (.177) and 22nd in opponent free throws per field goal attempt (.220). That margin is alarming, and the result was a -270 point loss in the free throw game. Quite possibly, that was the difference between the lottery and the playoffs.
Improved free-throw accuracy alone won't get Miami to the NBA Finals. And putting the fate of the Heat on the whims of a free-agent goes against the nature of Pat Riley, who after all is the Godfather. Riley didn't want LeBron James to act as the Heat GM, so he may not let a lesser star dictate Miami's payroll. Is Hayward, instead of Micky Arison, going to determine the future of the Heat for the next 4 years?
Trading seems to be the Godfather’s preferred method of assembling a championship, since franchise managements decide which players come and go. By negotiating the exchange of talent, with the head of basketball operations from other teams, team’s executives have more control of their personnel and payroll for the coming season(s).
Should the Celtics nab a Hayward, Griffin or George, the Heat would need to take a serious look on how far the current roster can go in the race. Adding a single piece might not be enough to achieve its lofty objectives.
NOTE: Create your own roster scenario at roster-builder.com.
Next few weeks will be interesting, to say the least, especially when Justise Winslow got the rumor mill going at Silver Screen and Roll with his Instagram post.