Heat targeting Shabazz Napier if they can move up in draft

Ronald Martinez

The Miami Heat and LeBron James could be trying to move up in the first round of the draft.

The Miami Heat can quell free agent LeBron James' worries about their future roster by drafting well, and reports indicate they're going to be aggressive in moving up to pick a talented player. According to ESPN's Chad Ford, the Heat are targeting UConn Huskies point guard Shabazz Napier, and are willing to trade Norris Cole and the No. 26 pick to move up in the first round.

Why Napier in Miami makes sense

Both Miami president Pat Riley and James are big fans of Napier, who won two national titles with UConn under two different coaches. James left an online trail of his opinion of Napier by expressing his respect for the Husky guard on Twitter during the 2014 NCAA Championship game.

Miami needs an upgrade at point guard. Long-time starter Mario Chalmers, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, was phased out of the rotation to a degree in the Heat's Eastern Conference Finals series against the Indiana Pacers and again in the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. Cole likewise didn't make much of an impact. Napier could become an upgrade thanks to his shooting and defensive abilities.

Heat bloggers at Hot Hot Hoops chose Napier in the SB Nation blogger mock draft for such reasons.

Why it might not happen

Grantland's Zach Lowe reports that Miami's maneuvering during the next few days could lead elsewhere. Specifically, the Heat could also look into trading for a veteran. Because they have so few of their players from last season available to trade, that might mean parting with the No. 26 pick for a current player instead of another, higher draft pick to target Napier.

Moving up to pick Napier might be fruitless. He was invited to the green room and has been shooting up draft boards lately, so it's possible he could be snatched up at the end of the lottery. It's hard to tell how far up in the draft order Miami could move with the 26th pick and Cole to offer. It might not be enough.

What are the chances Miami gets its man?

The Heat face trading up in a deep draft. It is possible they could bring in another team to help with their offer, however. Pleasing James is no doubt a priority, and even if he leaves in free agency, retooling with a player like Napier fits into the Miami culture. Give it a 3-out-of-10 shot of happening.

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