2016 NBA free agents: Gauging Heat interest in DeMar DeRozan

If he opts for free agency, DeMar DeRozan will be one of the biggest prizes on the market. (Getty Images)
If he opts for free agency, DeMar DeRozan will be one of the biggest prizes on the market. (Getty Images)

The Heat are getting ready for an aggressive pursuit of elite talent Kevin Durant, but so are 29 other teams. If Miami doesn’t hook its “whale,” will the team be content to wait for a shot at the 2017 free agent class?

Patience has always been a challenge for Pat Riley and his perpetual win-now mentality, which could prompt him to go after another big-time player if Durant doesn’t sign. One of the best available is Toronto wing player DeMar DeRozan.

DeRozan has one year, $9.5 million left on his current contract with the Raptors, but that’s a player option. If he declines it, he’s an unrestricted free agent, and that’s a logical move considering he could double his salary by doing so.

The Heat are quite familiar with DeRozan after he bounced them from the playoffs this season. He’s a dynamic scorer and has the body (6-foot-7, 220 pounds) to play more of a small forward role if that’s what Miami needs alongside Dwyane Wade. While their games are similar, DeRozan is 26 and could be with the Heat well past Wade’s retirement.

DeRozan was an All-Star in 2014 and ’16 and is one of the most explosive scoring threats (potentially) available this summer. Over the last three seasons, he averaged 22.2 points on 43.1 percent shooting, rounding it out with 4.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Other than the shooting percentage, that’s pretty close to what Wade put up during that span.

[Heat see Hassan Whiteside getting even better once he gets his money]

[2016 NBA free agents: Top five teams for Hassan Whiteside if he leaves the Miami Heat]

[Chris Bosh’s situation complicates Heat’s summer free agency plans]

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