4 Biggest Miami Heat questions ahead of the NBA trade deadline

Who should the Heat be targetting and what do they have available to trade?
Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat
Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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What are the Heat’s biggest needs?

LaMelo Ball, Kyle Lowry
Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Perimeter defense: Miami’s point-of-attack defense has been an issue for most of the season. Injuries to Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Jimmy Butler haven’t helped, but it’s also true that Kyle Lowry, at 37, is no longer than defender he once was. 

For as much effort as Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson give on that end, physical limitations prevent them from being better than average defensively. When matching up against the top teams in the East, whether it’s Damian Lillard’s Bucks, Tyrese Maxey’s Sixers or Jrue Holiday and the Celtics, the the Heat will need a steady defender at the guard position.

Rim pressure: Lowry is the only true point guard on the roster and isn’t a threat to get to the basket. Herro operates from the outside-in, and while Robinson has incorporated more drives to the basket, it’s not his primary mode of scoring. 

The Heat rank near the bottom of the league in shots at the basket, and they are over-reliant on mid-range jumpers. Adding a player who routinely gets to the basket, draws fouls and kicks out to open shooters would give Miami’s 17th-ranked offense some needed juice. 

Luxury-tax relief: The Heat are well above the luxury tax line and likely won’t be able to get under unless they make a dramatic salary dump (that isn’t expected). They could try to trade Dru Smith’s $1.8 million salary for some short-term relief.

The Heat are also about $250,000 away from passing the second luxury tax line and are at risk of being over it for next season. Lowry’s expiring contract can be used to find an upgrade, but the Heat have to be careful about taking on too much long-term salary. They can bring in a player making around $22 million for next season and still be below the second tax, but that would limit their options in free agency and in other trades.