Typically, teams in the midst of a 12-game winning streak, matching Golden State for the most consecutive victories in a row this season, aren’t interested in bringing in new players.
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The Heat are in a much different place, as their run as catapulted the team from competing for possibly selecting first overall in the 2017 NBA draft back into postseason contention.
Only two games stand between Miami and Detroit for eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, prompting the team to explore the NBA trade market with the Feb. 23 trade deadline rapidly approaching.
According to The Miami Herald, the Heat are intrigued by Ibaka.
The power forward position in Miami has been uncertain all season. Chris Bosh hasn’t appeared in a game for more than a year and Thursday marked the first day the Heat could apply to have his salary taken away from the salary cap.
Bosh is the 11th-highest paid player in the league, earning $23.7 million this season, and is slated to make over $52 million the next two years.
The Sun Sentinel reports the Heat are likely to wait until March 1 to begin the process of removing Bosh’s contract from its salary cap in order to make Bosh ineligible to appear in the playoffs for another team.
Derrick Williams was brought in to compete for minutes at power forward, but was released by the team earlier this week, and starting power forward Luke Babbitt is averaging just 4.5 points on 36.6 percent shooting from the field and 2.1 rebounds a game.
Landing Ibaka in a trade would be a massive upgrade for the Heat.
The 27-year-old forward is averaging 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game but appears to be on his way out of Orlando after just 54 games.
With the Magic on the outside of the playoff hunt for the fifth consecutive season, the team is reportedly ramping up efforts to move him before he becomes a free agent this summer.
Ibaka is in the final year of a four-year, $48 million deal and with the team failing to transform into an elite defensive unit, the thought process that prompted the trade, the Magic are trying to land some long term pieces in any trade.
According to the Sporting News, the asking price for Ibaka is a young player and a future draft pick.
Tuesday in Houston, Ibaka posted 28 points, his third-highest total of the year, and eight rebounds in one of his best outings of the year.
Ibaka has swatted away 88 shots this season, tied for eighth-most in the NBA, but opponents are converting 53.9 percent of their attempts at the rim against him, a 10.3 percent increase from his final season with Oklahoma City.
Perhaps slotting Ibaka at the power forward position with Hassan Whiteside, one of just four players averaging more than 2.0 blocks per game, could provide the Heat with the most intimidating shot-blocking duo in the league.
In his eighth season, Ibaka has become a true stretch forward, connecting on a career-high 82 attempts from beyond the arc at a 38.7 percent clip, giving the Heat a viable offensive replacement for Bosh.
The path to a playoff berth could have become a bit easier, with Milwaukee losing Jabari Parker for the rest of the season to a torn left ACL, an injury suffered against Miami Wednesday night.
The Heat won its season series against the Bucks 3-1 and improved its record for the year to 23-30. Only Charlotte and Detroit stand between Miami and the 20th playoff appearance in franchise history.