Heat

Bigger Buyout Market to Miami’s Benefit?

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With the Eastern Conference improving and the Miami Heat being granted a $4.7 million exception for Meyers Leonard’s season-ending injury, the team is expected to be very active in the buyout market.

This season’s market is expected to be much more talented than usual, and can push the Heat back up to the top of the East’s contenders with a good signing. While it’s expected they’ll still be very active in the trade market, a few buyouts may allow them to solve a few needs.

DeMarcus Cousins

One of the best centers of the decade, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins was released by the Houston Rockets on February 23. The Kentucky product has been a long-rumored target for Miami, as the Heat and Cousins have come close to joining forces over his past two free-agency visits. Most notably, in the 2019 offseason, Cousins was apparently between the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers. Needless to say, he chose the Lakers, noting Anthony Davis’ friendship as a reason.

Cousins’ 2017-18 season was ended prematurely with a ruptured Achilles, an injury known as the worst an athlete can suffer. To make things worse, Cousins would suffer a torn quad in the 2018 playoffs as a member of the Golden State Warriors. As if things weren’t bad enough, Cousins would tear his ACL in 2019 as a member of Lakers before the season started, leading to his release. Cousins would sign with the Rockets in 2020’s free agency.

Before Boogie’s injuries started piling up, he was arguably the best center in the league. From 2013-17, Boogie averaged 25.2 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.4 blocks per game.

Pure dominance.

Injuries have limited Cousins’ game, but in Houston this season, he has shown signs of life.

In the 2020/2021 NBA season, Cousins has been relatively inconsistent in his 25 games. His minutes are sporadic, but when given legit tick, he performs. In the 13 games that he has played at least 20 minutes a game, Boogie is averaging 13.3 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.

Cousins would be great next to or behind Bam Adebayo as he can space the floor, score in the post, defend the paint and rebound effectively. If the Heat can land the 30-year-old veteran, he will have an immediate impact.

Quinn Cook

Quinn Cook is a 27-year-old two-time NBA champion and was released by the Lakers on February 23 after playing 16 games this season.

Cook didn’t play much before his release (3.9 garbage minutes per game), but served as a valuable role player for the Warriors and the Lakers in his four-year career. He’s seen as a veteran point guard who can come off the bench, but the Heat could possibly have a bigger role in place for him. In his career, Cook has only started 29 out of a possible 181 games. In those 29 contests, he is averaging 13.3 points, 4.0 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game. Cook also contributed eight games of 19-or-more points in his starts.

If the Heat were to sign Cook, he would give the team more veteran experience in their young backcourt alongside Goran Dragic. The Duke product has always been an efficient three-point shooter, knocking down 38.5% from behind the arc in his career. With only two players on the team averaging 5+ assists per game, the Heat are desperate for another player that can handle the ball and make plays.

Andre Drummond

The Cleveland Cavaliers center’s future with the team had been in question ever since the team acquired Jarrett Allen from the Brooklyn Nets in the James Harden deal. On February 15, it was decided by management that Drummond would not play for the Cavs again this season. Cleveland has committed to finding a trade partner for him, but he is still a member of the team. If the team cannot find a trade partner by the March 25 deadline, Drummond is expected to be released.

The big man’s MO has been rebounding the basketball. In his eight-year career, Drummond has led the league in rebounds per game four times.

While he is an amazing rebounder, he doesn’t offer much else, however.. He struggles at the line, posting a career average of 46.7%. Through 2020-21, Drummond is shooting 47.4% from the field– not good for a center who takes about 99% of his shots inside the three-point line.

Would the Heat pair him with Bam knowing that there would be no floor spacing? Added onto Jimmy Butler having trouble with his three ball since moving to Miami, it seems like it would be difficult to make work.

With that said, if the Heat can sign him through the buyout market, Drummond will at least fix one of the Heat’s main issues– rebounding.

Blake Griffin

A former first-overall pick, Blake Griffin is soon to hit free agency after reportedly agreeing to a buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

In 2018-19, Griffin was unreal. He averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. After that season, things would drastically change for Griffin, however.

The once poster child for the Clippers’ “Lob City” has seemed to lose what he was known for: his athleticism. After suffering injuries in 2019, his game has fallen off a cliff. This season, Griffin is averaging 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 36.5% from the field and 31.5% from three.

While he looks to have declined from his best, the 6’9 forward could benefit from a change of scenery in Miami. Griffin recently added a three-point shot to his skillset and though he has been somewhat inefficient, he can make his presence known.

A Signing Is Imminent

Regardless of who is available, the Miami Heat will be using their allocated money to make a signing that can improve their championship odds. This inking needs to help the team get better in one way or another, as the 76ers, Nets and Bucks have all improved in multiple aspects of the game.

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