Miami Heat rumors: Kevin Durant, mystery star trade and more

Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Four
Minnesota Timberwolves v Phoenix Suns - Game Four / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Welcome to our weekly Miami Heat offseason rumor roundup! Every week, we’ll cobble together some of the latest scuttle – big, small, believable and off the wall – for your speculating pleasure.

Kevin Durant wants to come to Miami?

During an appearance on another one of Shannon Sharpe’s shows, “Night Cap,” former NFL wide receiver and current sunglasses-inside-wearer Chad OchoCinco claimed that Kevin Durant told him he wants to play in Miami – Sort of.

Sharpe asked OchoCinco, the widely-regarded foremost Durant insider, “What makes you think he wants to go to Miami now?”

“Because I talked to him,” OchoCinco said, leaving room for some kind of explosion sound effect. 

“People like KD, and LeBron, and other players that I know, they confide in me,” he continued. “And [Durant] said he would have no problem coming down to Miami if it made sense.”

Reading the tea leaves: Is OchoCinco the most trusted messenger? No. Do I believe him when he says Durant would have “no problem coming down to Miami if it made sense?” Sort of. But this struck me more as a casual conversation he had with Durant that OchoCinco pumped up into something bigger in order to go viral (he even tells Sharpe to talk about it on “First Take”). In other words, I don’t think Durant is angling to come to Miami but would be theoretically open to it “if it made sense” the way you or I are open to ordering Wingstop for dinner “if it made sense.”

Bernie Lee to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

In the wake of Pat Riley calling out Jimmy Butler for his lack of availability this past season, Butler’s agent Bernie Lee told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that the Heat star played in as many games as possible.

It’s worth reading the article in full – and shoutout to the Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman for the ace reporting – but here are a couple of highlights:

“Taking issue in games in which he plays is just not reality,” Lee said to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “This past season, we had a conversation at the start of the year, just with some of the changes, rules changes in the NBA, the priority that was in place to be able to participate in every game he was physically able to participate for, and I can tell you that he lived up that commitment.”

“Jimmy missed 22 games this past year, a mix of personal reasons and injury,” Lee said. “If there was a game that was on the schedule that Jimmy was healthy enough to participate in, he did that. He played in a number of back-to-backs and it was the utmost priority to him to do everything he can to be available.”

Reading the tea leaves: It’s hard to claim that Butler played every game he was healthy enough to participate in when he missed the third game of the regular season for rest after sitting out the entire preseason. But the bigger problem here is that he played in only 60 games and wasn’t engaged in another 15 or so. Whichever way you want to slice it, the Heat need more from their top player. That’s something that will come up when Butler and Lee request a max contract extension in July.

ICYMI: Did Daryl Morey hint at a Jimmy Butler trade?

Heat coaches said no to a star trade?

In a thread on X, formerly Twitter, Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson claimed that blame for the Heat not acquiring a star shouldn’t always be on the front office and that the coaching staff has some say in the players the team acquires. 

“I can tell you this: It's not always Pat or Andy or Arisons who express reservation about adding a particular player. Not naming the player, but there was skilled outside player that the coaching staff didn't want, per staffer.”

Reading the tea leaves: Juicy! Who was it? My GUESS is that the player in question is James Harden. Going through the list of traded stars over the years: Everybody was on board for Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. The front office was concerned about Bradley Beal’s no-trade clause. Kyrie Irving was traded to Dallas last season, but I don’t get the impression the front office ever seriously engaged with the idea of acquiring Irving, who was leaving Brooklyn on turbulent terms. 

That leaves Harden, who was traded for two first-round picks and a bundle of role players at the beginning of the season. The Heat had the means to match or better that offer, but it would make sense if the coaching staff was less than thrilled with the idea of acquiring Harden, who has a reputation for being out of shape, not playing defense and needing the offense to run a specific way. Again – that’s my guess. For the record, I still would have done it.