The door opened for a possible Miami Heat meeting with point guard Goran Dragic.
Ahead of Wednesday’s NBA deadline for playoff eligibility for waived players, the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday made such a move with the former Heat leader. The momentum now makes Dragic available for another team’s playoff roster.
Dragic made a similar move a year ago, before the playoff eligibility deadline, when he moved from the Toronto Raptors to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Heat traded Dragic and forward Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors in the 2021 offseason in the sign-and-trade transaction that brought veteran point guard Kyle Lowry to the Heat. Dragic then granted Lowry permission to use his No. 7.
The Bulls’ move with Dragic comes at a time when Lowry has been sidelined for a month with knee pain, leaving Gabe Vincent as the only available point guard on the Heat’s roster.
While the Heat have been cautious about staying under the NBA’s punishing luxury tax, the team has enough money under the salary cap to add Dragic, 36.
What the Heat lack is an available roster spot, an NBA maximum of 15 players under standard contracts and two under two-way contracts.
This would require the waiver of a player from the current roster to add Dragic.
Among the options in that regard could be forward Haywood Highsmith, who saw his role evaporate when the Heat returned to health, or center Omer Yurtseven, who has yet to play this season after having ankle surgery in November. The Heat recently bolstered their power rotation ahead of the buyout market with the additions of Kevin Love and Cody Zeller, who thrived at center in his first three games with the team. Yurtseven is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in the offseason.
Another option would be to agree to the departure of captain Udonis Haslem, 42, who has barely played this season, but that is a highly unlikely outcome for a franchise icon.
Since he was waived on March 1, Dragic can sign with any team through April 9, the last day of the regular season, to qualify for the playoffs.
Dragic, 6ft 3, appeared in 51 games for the Bulls, averaging 6.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 15.4 minutes per game. He signed a one-year, veteran-minimum contract with the Bulls on August 2.
The Bulls’ move was anticipated after the team recently added former Heat pick Patrick Beverley out of the buyout market.
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