Miami Heat Mailbag: Does Pat Riley covet Clippers forward Blake Griffin?

Is Clippers forward Blake Griffin part of one of Pat Riley’s plans? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

As the days dwindle to the start of free agency, two names are heavily associated with the Miami Heat. And not surprisingly they are the top two players among those most believe could switch teams – Clippers power forward Blake Griffin and Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward.

Which leads us to one of today’s mailbag questions. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From @ CoreyR33: Pat says he has a plan A & B in FA. Do you think either involve Griffin or is that just media speculation? (I’d rather GH or resign our own.)

The Griffin-to-Miami projections appear to be gaining steam and we read on Tuesday how Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins said he believes Griffin will leave L.A. for Miami.

But it takes two to tango, which mean for the Griffin to sign with Miami, the Heat must be willing to meet his demands for a max contract. And we heard what Riley said when he met with the media following the draft:

“We have a plan. We have a Plan A. And we have a Plan B. There’s no D, E, F or G. We feel good about the plan. You never know what’s going to happen in free agency. We have great respect for the two guys, three guys, four guys that we have that are free agents. But, we’ll see what happens on July 1st. It’s always a pretty exciting time.”

Certainly Gordon Hayward is part of those plans and the Heat, as expected, are planning to meet with Hayward on Saturday, the first day of free agency.

But Riley will not settle. So perhaps Plan A includes finding a way to fit in both Hayward and Griffin through a sign-and-trade or two. But, yes, I believe Griffin is part of one of those plans, perhaps Plan B which could be Griffin and Dion Waiters as opposed to Plan A that could be Hayward and James Johnson.

From @KevinHeatNBA: Could Heat actually just keep Tyler Johnson & overpay the last 2 years of his contract? He’s a 6th man of the year type.

Johnson has three years remaining on his four-year, $50 million contract. He is owed $5.9 million, $18.9 million and $19.6 million the next three seasons. About $19 million in each of those final two years is a lot of money for a player who right now is projected to be coming off the bench as he did for all 73 games he played last season.

Miami likely will try to trade Johnson – who averaged 13.7 points and 4.0 rebounds in 2016-17 – to open up some cap space, whether it’s this summer or next. Even moving him next month (perhaps as part of a sign-and-trade) and adding $6 million of cap space this year would be valuable. But shedding $19 million each of the next two years would be a huge benefit.

The problem Miami might have is finding a team willing to take on Tyler’s contract. Maybe Brooklyn, the team that actually offered this contract last summer before Miami matched, would take him.

[Miami Heat players snubbed in voting for All-Defensive teams]

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