Nene and Ricky Rubio like Miami. So what?

January, 24, 2011
1/24/11
5:06
PM ET
Haberstroh By Tom Haberstroh
ESPN.com
Archive
The Heat's rumor mill awoke from a quiet slumber over the weekend.

First, a report from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com informs us through a source that Denver Nuggets center Nene is none too pleased with the Carmelo Anthony trade saga and the Brazilian could want out should the Nuggets engage in a youth movement. And reportedly, he has some preferred destinations in mind already.
Nene, arguably Denver's second-best player, has made a list of three teams he's interested in signing with or being traded to -- and not surprisingly, one of them is Miami, where his fierce interior presence would be the missing piece for the Heat.

ESPN.com's Marc Stein has reported this morning on Twitter that the Dallas Mavericks are another team on Nene's list. It's unknown who the third team is but Stein expects the Houston Rockets to jump in if Nene hits the trade market.

It's especially important to note the other suitors because if the situation turns ugly fast, the Heat may be shut out of the sweepstakes. Why? The Heat don't have much in the way of trade assets to lure the Nuggets into a deal at the February deadline. If Denver decides to blow up the roster and rebuild for the future sooner rather than later, teams like the Mavericks and the Rockets could potentially build packages that are far more enticing for a rebuilding franchise than, say, Mario Chalmers and Dexter Pittman. The Mavericks have Rodrigue Beaubois, future draft picks, and an expiring contract. Just one of those assets is more than what the Heat could offer to a rebuilding team.

So the Heat better hope that Nene sticks it out in Denver this season. Nene could become a free agent by exercising his early termination option after the season and in turn, the Heat could bid for his services. What are his services? A high-energy, high-efficiency big man that would be the answer for the Heat's long-term question mark at center. While he's not a block machine, he's a strong force in the paint that could anchor the Heat's D.

But Heat fans, Nene-to-Miami is a pipe dream. Unless he's willing to take an enormous pay cut, the Heat won't have the cap flexibility to bring him on board with the money locked into the Heat's core. And while we don't know what the new CBA will look like next season, it's safe to say that the Heat's budget will be tightened, not expanded.

Another Heat pipe dream? Ricky Rubio. At least anytime soon. In a terrific New York Times article from Jonathan Givony, a source reveals that Rubio's camp have their eyes set on three teams: Boston, New York, and Miami. But alas, the Timberwolves hold all the rights to the 20-year-old through the end of the season since they drafted him fifth in the 2009 draft. If he doesn't sign by June 30, then he's free to sign with anyone for the 2011-12 season -- that is, if the new CBA allows it. Even then, the Heat likely won't have any cap space freed up to sign a coveted player like him unless they find takers for Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem's contracts, which is incredibly unlikely.

Also, it shouldn't be a surprise that potential free agents would potentially be interested in playing for the Heat organization. It's a well-run franchise with a championship-caliber roster located in a city where people go for vacation. But under the rules of the CBA, Nene and Rubio aren't serious options for the Heat going forward. The rules won't allow it.

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