The Miami Heat need help. Is LeBron James or Kevin Durant the answer?

Enough is enough. It's time for the Miami Heat to go for broke and go for two generational players.
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

In the likely scenario that the Celtics eliminate the Heat, Miami will share two things in common with aging stars Kevin Durant and LeBron James: frustration over a snappy postseason departure and an overwhelming feeling that a change must come. 

For Durant and James, that means switching teams to squeeze out another ring before it's too late. For the Heat, meanwhile, they could be the team that Durant or James switch to. 

Sure, it’ll require the Heat to make an uncharacteristic go-for-broke approach, but what option do they have? Jimmy Butler, 34, has a narrowing championship window. Plus, by not adding Durant, James, or another star once again, Miami could exit the Butler era devoid of championships, but full of regret.

If Miami doesn't add a star, and then comes up short next year, few could blame Bam Adebayo for wanting to bounce and seek a championship elsewhere. He’s a three-time All-Star, four-time All-Defense who’s been a foundational piece of Miami’s two trips to the NBA Finals and three trips to the Eastern Conference finals since 2020. But at 26 years old, Adebyao’s patience could be running out. 

In Miami’s current first-round clash with the No. 1 seed Boston Celtics, Adebayo has averaged 22.5 points (a career-high for an individual postseason series) only for Miami to be facing a 3-1 deficit. 

Miami has lost each game by double digits. Even worse: They’ve trailed by an average of 23.3 points when entering the fourth quarter. 

The absences of Butler (knee injury) and Terry Rozier (neck injury) can’t go unmentioned. But Miami’s bludgeonings and disappointing regular season suggest that winning a championship this year was always a longshot.

Then there’s the competition factor. Boston could be rearing its way toward dynastic territory and the Western Conference could be home to three perpetual championship contenders: the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Durant should know. Despite averaging 26.8 points and a 41.7% clip from three, his Phoenix Suns were swept by Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves.

A day after the Suns were eliminated, a Western Conference executive told’s Sean Deveney that the “Heat would be a favorite” to land Durant should the dead-eye sniper request a trade.

Considering the Heat have eclipsed 95 points just once against the Boston Celtics, Miami president Pat Riley should entertain the idea.

Though Durant, 35, has failed to make the NBA Finals since leaving the Warriors in 2019, he was a top-five scorer in the NBA this year and played well in the playoffs. 

But how much would it cost?

The Heat can trade up to three first-round picks this summer and have helpful rotation players like Tyler Herro, Terry Rozier and Duncan Robinson available, plus promising young pieces like Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic. As hard as it might be to part with some of the current core, it's clear the Heat need to take a meaningful swing to improve the roster.

This could be the move to ratchet up excitement for a fan base that’s been deprived of that quintessential big move. A repeat of last year’s Damian Lillard saga is unacceptable at this point.

If not Durant, then maybe that big move is bringing LeBron James back to win his third ring with the Heat. 

Similar to Durant, James, 39, performed well in the playoffs only to sustain a quick exit because of the pieces around him. Also similar to Durant, James knows the end is coming which leaves him itching to win another ring and exit as the game's greatest.

Dissimilar to Durant, James could become a free agent this offseason should he turn down his $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 season to return to the Lakers. Signing James as a free agent to a maximum three-year, $164 million contract would be nearly impossible for the Heat considering their salary cap position (even if they were to salary dump half the roster) but would James consider signing for less in order to chase another championship? Or perhaps a sign-and-trade with the Lakers could be worked out?

Drastic times call for drastic measures. Even if that means selecting Bronny James, who averaged less than five points as a freshman for a USC team that finished 9-12 in the PAC-12 this year. 

But the sweepstakes for any star becomes more complex when considering the Heat will be competiting with other teams richer in assets or cap space. Even the Cavaliers could be in the mix for a second reunion with James.

This would be problematic for Miami because its other target should be Donovan Mitchell, a five-time All-Star who provides the scoring prowess Miami desperately needs. Nearly a decade younger than Durant, Mitchell provides more stability and a seamless transition for Butler’s final years.

There are several hypotheticals at play here, but the goal of each is to do what this current iteration of the Heat may never do: Win an NBA championship. This means Riley must do something he hasn’t done since signing Butler: Land a superstar. 

Maybe that's Durant … or James … or even Mitchell.