ESPN’s Perkins says Lowry would make Heat top three in East, threat to Nets, Bucks

A look at how today is setting up for the Miami Heat ahead of the 6 p.m. start of NBA free-agency negotiating period, with updates posted here throughout the day:

2:45 p.m. update: Former NBA center and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins just said on “SportsCenter” that a Heat addition of Kyle Lowry in free agency would push the Heat past the Philadelphia 76ers and to No. 3 in the East (they closed No. 6 last season) and make them a challenger to the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks.

“They would be No. 3 in the East,” Perkins said. “It would be the Nets and the Bucks and the Miami Heat. If you get a guy like Kyle Lowry, at one of the most important positions in the game today, the point guard position, a guy that’s won a championship, a guy that’s battle tested, that fits the Heat Culture, a guy that’s going to mesh well with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they’d probably have the best defensive backcourt in the NBA.

“This is a guy that can take a lot of pressure off of Jimmy Butler, facilitating the offense. Now Jimmy Butler only will have to focus on one thing, and that’s not getting others involved, that’s going out and getting buckets. I think if they could get Kyle Lowry, that’s a huge upgrade from Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn, and I think they’ll be a top-three team in the Eastern Conference and a threat to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets.”

1:30 p.m. update: Mark Stein, the former New York Times NBA columnist whose work now appears on Substack, is reporting that the Heat’s current machinations would continue to leave Tyler Herro as a member of the Heat.

Moving beyond reports linking Kyle Lowry and possibly even DeMar DeRozan to the Heat, Stein reports, “The Heat, I’m told, are likewise strong favorites to re-sign restricted free agent sharpshooter Duncan Robinson with or without the addition of DeRozan and are believed to be attempting to make all of these moves without surrendering Tyler Herro via trade. Longtime Heat executive Andy Elisburg, regarded as one of the league’s foremost salary-cap savants, will only add to his legend if Miami can get all that done.”

1 p.m. update: Included in the John Hollinger report below is the belief that Kendrick Nunn’s Heat tenure will come to an end in free agency.

Nunn is a restricted free agent, with the Heat having the right to match outside offers. Nunn also can be included in a sign-and-trade transaction, with the Heat holding his Bird Rights. However, if the Heat add Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade transaction with the Toronto Raptors, the Heat will be dealing with the challenges of a hard cap.

“Keeping Kendrick Nunn, on the other hand, seems hugely unlikely,” Hollinger, the former Memphis Grizzlies executive noted. “The Heat will be hard-capped on any sign-and-trade and, in any event, would go deep in the tax if it re-signed him at his market value. . . .

“He is effectively an unrestricted free agent at this point.”

10:30 a.m. update: Bleacher Report is reporting that if the Goran Dragic/Precious Achiuwa sign-and-trade goes through with the Toronto Raptors for Kyle Lowry that both Dragic and Achiuwa could then be re-routed by Toronto.

“There is a belief among rival executives that both Dragic and Achiuwa could be rerouted elsewhere in subsequent trades,” the report states.

That same report also said, “The numbers floating around for Duncan Robinson’s next contract are an average annual value between $16 million and $18 million.”

Also, Sports Illustrated is reporting a potential murky free agency for Heat free-agent guard Victor Oladipo.

“Surgery to repair a torn quad in May will keep Oladipo out for the start of the season, and teams have become increasingly wary about Oladipo’s long term health,” the report states. “Several execs say it’s possible Oladipo, 29, could go unsigned for the next few months, until he can show he is ready to play.”

10 a.m. update: Worth pausing to consider ahead of what more and more likely appears to be a Heat move for Kyle Lowry is what happens to No. 7 with the Heat.

Pat Riley’s commitment to Goran Dragic included $37.5 million over two years last November to a 34-year-old Dragic, so there can be no question of loyalty there. And, yes, Dragic will receive all of that, even if dealt.

But does Lowry get No. 7 if added by the Heat? Or is that put aside for an eventual Dragic jersey retirement by the Heat?

Choices soon might have to be made by the Heat and Lowry.

9 a.m. update: The Athletic is reporting that Duncan Robinson’s price tag could land in the $18 million annual range in free agency.

According to a piece by former Memphis Grizzlies executive John Hollinger, “the Heat will likely match offers on the restricted free agent at this price point.”

Hollinger also mentions reports of the Heat adding San Antonio Spurs free agent DeMar DeRozan for the full mid-level exception, but notes, “Keeping Kendrick Nunn, on the other hand, seems hugely unlikely.”

8:30 a.m. update: All eyes remain focused on a Heat move to lock up Toronto Raptors free-agent guard Kyle Lowry at the start of free agency.

As reported Sunday, the Heat’s decision to pick up the 2021-22 team option of Goran Dragic positions the Heat to offer Dragic and second-year center Precious Achiuwa to Toronto in a sign-and-trade proposal for Lowry.

Several media outlets reported overnight that teams that had been targeting Lowry as an addition have shifted their focus elsewhere.

In other housekeeping matters Sunday, the Heat bypassed the 2021-22 team options of Andre Iguodala and Omer Yurtseven, making them unrestricted free agents.

8 a.m. update: The NBA free-agent list for the 2021 offseason is now set, a list that Kawhi Leonard and Chris Paul joined just before Sunday’s 5 p.m. deadline by bypassing their player options.

That list can be found here.

The free-agency signing period begins Friday at 12:01 p.m. Eastern.

7:30 a.m. update: While most of the Heat coaching staff is in Sacramento for the Heat’s camp in advance of Tuesday’s start of summer league there, Erik Spoelstra is in South Florida and the Heat’s front office.

Two years ago the Heat hosted Jimmy Butler at the start of free agency and reached an agreement within minutes.

7 a.m. update: The Heat currently have only six players under contract for 2021-22 heading into the start of free agency: Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala.

Teams can carry up to 20 players in the offseason, then limited to 15 players on the standard roster plus two two-way players during the regular season.

Among Heat free agents heading into the start of the negotiating period are Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Victor Oladipo, Andre Iguodala, Trevor Ariza, Dewayne Dedmon, Nemanja Bjelica, Udonis Haslem, Omer Yurtseven, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, with all eligible to be re-signed by the Heat.