DALLAS - Entering the free agency, the Dallas Mavericks remain focused on their pursuit of Kyle Lowry as the team's "Plan A."
As DallasBasketball.com has reported, the Miami Heat are currently viewed as the front-runner to sign Lowry in free agency. Both the Mavericks and Pelicans remain serious suitors.
The close relationship that Lowry holds with Jimmy Butler is viewed as a significant factor in the Heat's recruiting efforts. During an appearance with The Artist and The Athlete with Lindsay Czarniak, Butler described Lowry as one of his 'absolute best friends' and mentioned that Lowry is the Godfather of his daughter.
"He's one of my absolute best friends. He's the godfather of my daughter," Butler said. "As competitive as it is, we're always laughing, we're always joking around."
A league source also told DallasBasketball.com that Lowry's preferred landing spot ahead of the March trade deadline was the Heat. This was widely reported at the time and fueled speculation that he would end up choosing to sign in Miami once free agency came around.
For the Heat to have the necessary cap space to sign Lowry, it will take some maneuvering. One option for Miami is to decline the team options for Goran Dragic ($19.4 million) and Andre Iguodala ($15.0 million). A decision is needed on Sunday regarding whether Miami will choose to exercise those.
An alternative the Heat could pursue is a sign-and-trade scenario with the Toronto Raptors. The contracts of those two team-options would help significantly for salary matching purposes if Miami were to exercise them.
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Miami also has the option of renouncing some of their larger cap holds such as Victor Oladipo ($31.5 million), Trevor Ariza ($16.6 million), and Nemanja Bjelica ($13.6 million) to maximize cap space. The cap holds of sought after restricted free agents Duncan Robinson and to a lesser extent, Kendrick Nunn, each account for just over $4.7 million.
The Pelicans and Mavericks each face a need to add talent around their respective franchise-cornerstone. Lowry is viewed by both organizations as an option that would immediately accelerate the path to winning.
New Orleans made an aggressive move before the 2021 NBA Draft to clear salary cap spending room with Lowry as the primary target in mind. The Pelicans used the No. 10 overall pick to help facilitate a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies to move on from the contracts of both Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams.
The Mavericks made an effort to clear salary cap spending room by moving Josh Richardson to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Moses Brown, who is set to earn just $1.7 million in 2021-22 with only $500K of that being guaranteed.
While being a front-runner a few days before the start of free agency is far from a guarantee to sign a player, the Heat hold an advantage when stacking them up with the Mavericks and Pelicans.