Most NBA trade rumors project Miami Heat to be active buyers ahead of the March 25 deadline and for good reason. The Heat may have climbed up to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference on the back of a five-game winning streak but they still have gaping holes in their roster.
The most evident limitation of the Miami Heat is their effort on the glass. Erik Spoelstra's men simply do not have the size or the defensive acumen to box out big guys underneath the rim. They did re-sign Meyers Leonard to a two-year deal with a team option but he's been sidelined for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
NBA Trade Rumors: Miami Heat's opportunity to add more depth underneath the rim
The Miami Heat have been handed a $4.7 million disabled player exception (DPE) following Leonard's injury and can use it to remedy their current situation. The sum is not big enough to acquire the biggest names in the business but there are a few players on high-value deals whom GM Pat Riley can pursue.
On that note, let us look at three centers the Miami Heat can target with their disabled player exception.
#1 JaVale McGee (Cleveland Cavaliers)
After winning two NBA titles in three years, JaVale McGee found himself on the Cleveland Cavaliers roster at the start of the season. McGee's age doesn't suit the franchise's plans and he's been given limited playing time as a result.
Despite playing only 15 minutes per game, Javale McGee is averaging 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. He's an able rim protector on defense and a solid post-up guy on offense. He's a good rim-runner as well who can excel in pick-and-roll plays.
Owed $4.2 million this year, JaVale McGee is likely to be in demand ahead of the NBA trade deadline. The Miami Heat can afford his contract and can probably offer the Cavs a second-rounder to get the deal done.
#2 Tony Bradley (Philadelphia 76ers)
In the final year of his rookie contract, Tony Bradley can solve Miami Heat's rebounding problem for the long haul. Bradley made a name for himself as the backup to Rudy Gobert while playing for the Utah Jazz. He got only three starts for the Jazz last season but managed a total of 30 boards in those games.
Traded to the Philadelphia 76ers this season, Bradley hasn't seen much of a change in his playing time. He's managing 3.9 points and 4.5 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game. Joel Embiid's dominance and Dwight Howard's resurgence have left few opportunities for the 23-year-old.
Owed $3.5 million, Tony Bradley's asking price will depend on how dearly the Sixers value him. Bradley is already a good rebounder and rim-protector. He could develop more skills in the near future.
Even if the Miami Heat can sign Bradley for a highly protected first-round pick, it would be one of the bargains of the season.
#3 Bismack Biyombo (Charlotte Hornets)
Bismack Biyombo is no longer the brute rim-protector he once was but he's still averaging 1.2 blocks per game. Biyombo has also managed an additional 5.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for the Charlotte Hornets this season.
The Hornets are in playoff contention but Biyombo is rather expendable for them. Cody Zeller is the first choice center and they've started experimenting with sophomore PJ Washington as the stretch five in his absence. They also have rookie Veron Carey Jr. whowaiting for his opportunity on the sidelines.
Biyombo could play a vital role for the Miami Heat though. He can defend big men whose offense is limited to the low block and can help in grabbing boards. He's owed $3.5 million and sending younger fringe players or a second-round pick to Charlotte should be enough to get this deal done.