Report: Heat Looking To Trade Up For Shabazz Napier

Mario Chalmers is an unrestricted free agent and coming off arguably the worst stretch of play in his six-year career. Norris Cole is the only player on the Miami Heat roster with a guaranteed contract for next season, but seems best suited to continue his role as a backup going forward. With so much uncertainty at point guard, Pat Riley is reportedly targeting LeBron James favorite Shabazz Napier in Thursday’s NBA draft.

The report is courtesy of ESPN draft guru Chad Ford. Though the Heat clearly desire Napier, Ford notes that it appears they lack the necessary assets to move up in the draft and select him.

The Miami Heat have started the process of courting LeBron James with an aggressive attempt to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft with their target being former UConn point guard Shabazz Napier, league sources said…

Right after the NBA Finals, Riley flew out to work out Napier, a Heat source told ESPN.com. After the workout, the Heat tried to convince the former Huskies star to stop his workouts so that he’d fall to the Heat with pick No. 26.

The Heat, though, are probably too late.

Napier has been one of the hottest names in the NBA draft the past few weeks, and there’s almost no chance he falls to the 26th pick.

Teams as high as the Orlando Magic at No. 12, the Atlanta Hawks at No. 15, the Chicago Bulls at No. 16 and the Boston Celtics at No. 17 are all seriously considering drafting Napier, according to various team sources. And it’s unlikely he slides past the Toronto Raptors at No. 21.

James has long been a fan of Napier. Back in April, LeBron tweeted in support of the flashy, high-scoring guard as Napier led the University of Connecticut to its second NCAA Championship in four years.


James was ahead of the curve by valuing Napier so highly. Whereas it appeared in March that Napier would be available to the Heat at the 26th pick of the first round, UCONN’s cinderella run to the title cemented his status as a likely mid- first-round pick. With only Cole, journeyman Justin Hamilton, and current and future late first-rounders in his trade tool-chest, can Riley swing a deal to move up in the draft?

Though doing so would obviously appease LeBron, at this point such a deal seems improbable. Napier is “unlikely” to get past the Toronto Raptors at 21, Ford says, and this draft class is strong enough that teams are extra unwilling to surrender first-rounders. Never count out Riley, though. He has a way of getting what he wants, and acquiring Napier should be extra attractive to the Heat given James’ public adulation of the two-time NCAA champion.

Would Napier be a good fit in Miami?

Follow Jack on Twitter at @ArmstrongWinter.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.