The Miami Heat are positioning themselves to become front-runners to land Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade agreement once discussions are permitted to begin with the opening of NBA free agency on Monday, sources told ESPN.
Lowry has long been intrigued with joining Heat star Jimmy Butler and the Miami organization, and now Miami has maneuvered to have two key elements of a possible sign-and-trade package — guard Goran Dragic and forward Precious Achiuwa — to offer the Raptors once talks can ensue at 6 p.m. ET Monday, sources said.
While negotiations on sign-and-trade agreements aren’t allowed to begin until free agency opens, teams are able to prepare for scenarios, and those contingencies are beginning to take shape inside front offices ahead of Monday.
Lowry’s free-agency decision promises to have a domino effect throughout the league, in which several free-agent point guards are looking to line up with teams wanting new starters at that position.
The Heat picked up the option on Dragic’s $19.4 million contract for the 2021-2022 season, making him an ideal contractual fit to include in talks to make a deal possible with the Raptors. A market exists for the Raptors to move Dragic, 35, onto a new team, including the Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans, sources said.
Achiuwa, a well-regarded 2020 first-round pick out of the University of Memphis, showed significant promise in his rookie season and would serve as a sweetener to Toronto to facilitate a sign-and-trade deal, sources said. Miami could add draft assets to a package, too.
Dragic has been a longtime mentor to Mavericks star Luka Doncic, both natives of Slovenia. They also share an agent, Bill Duffy of BDA Sports. The Raptors have Fred VanVleet returning at point guard, and they drafted playmaker Scottie Barnes out of Florida State with the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Lowry, 35, made $30 million in the final year of his contract and is seeking a deal in a similar neighborhood of starting annual salary over multiple years with his new team, sources said. New Orleans and Dallas are two teams with salary-cap space and strong interest in Lowry that are beginning to search elsewhere for starting point guard help, sources said.
Because Miami doesn’t have the salary-cap space to sign Lowry outright, the Heat are motivated to provide the Raptors with assets that would incentivize Toronto’s participation in helping Lowry land in Miami.
Lowry could sign into cap space with Dallas or New Orleans, a scenario that would cause Toronto to lose Lowry for nothing.
Lowry has been a six-time All-Star since arriving in Toronto in 2012 in a trade and helped the franchise win an NBA title in 2019.