Could Miami Heat, Pat Riley Seek Options Beyond KZ Okpala? – South Florida Sun Sentinel

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Q: Hey Ira, we have plenty of defense in our lineup to match up with other teams. I have heard you mention the possibility of trading off KZ Okpala’s contract which would open the door for another player. — Victor, Bethlehem, Pa.

A: Because the Heat are hard up against the luxury-tax line, they cannot add another player to a standard contract without going over the tax, thus the likely 14-player standard roster to open the regular season. However, one escape door would be to trade KZ Okpala and cash (his $1.8 million 2021-22 salary on the final-year of his contract plus a bit more as a sweetener) to a team below the cap or even below the salary floor. Such a team then could release Okpala at a small profit. So it comes down to whether the Heat would benefit more from KZ or a player at the minimum scale. And that all comes down to the Heat’s in-house view. But it is an avenue to another player on a standard deal.

Q: Remember, Kyle Lowry worked with Jonas Valanciunas in Toronto for over six seasons. Lowry might incorporate some of the same sets he used in Toronto with Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven. — Leonard, Cornelius, N.C.

A: And that’s another element of whether Erik Spoelstra might often go bigger this season. Part of that, of course, will be how the mix works with P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris at power forward. And part of it will be about the fit with Dewayne Dedmon or Omer Yurteven and Bam Adebayo. But having more of a pure playmaker certainly adds intriguing to the Heat equation when it comes to potentially the next big thing.

Q: We can retire the name “Dragic.” No one named Dragic will play for the Heat ever again. — J.F.

A: Ah, so that’s how to avoid questions about Kyle Lowry taking Goran Dragic’s No. 7. I’m just not sure how Zoran Dragic would feel about such an approach.