MIAMI — The door has swung open for a possible Miami Heat reunion with guard Goran Dragic.
Ahead of Wednesday’s NBA deadline for playoff eligibility for waived players, the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday made such a move with the former Heat floor leader. The timing now leaves Dragic available for another team’s playoff roster.
Dragic made a similar move a year ago ahead of the playoff-eligibility deadline, when he went from the Toronto Raptors to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Heat dealt Dragic and power forward Precious Achiuwa to the Raptors in the 2021 offseason in the sign-and-trade transaction that brought veteran point guard Kyle Lowry to the Heat. Dragic then granted Lowry permission to wear his No. 7.
The Bulls’ move with Dragic comes at a juncture when Lowry has been sidelined for a month with knee pain, leaving Gabe Vincent as the only available point guard on the Heat roster.
While the Heat have been cautious to remain below the NBA’s punitive luxury tax, the team does have enough money under the salary cap to add Dragic, 36.
What the Heat lack is an available roster spot, at the NBA maximum of 15 players under standard contract and two on two-way contracts.
That would require waiving a player from the current roster to add Dragic.
Among the options in that regard could be forward Haywood Highsmith, who has seen his role evaporate as the Heat have returned to health, or second-year center Omer Yurtseven, who has yet to play this season following November ankle surgery. The Heat recently bolstered their power rotation ahead of the buyout market with the additions of Kevin Love and Cody Zeller, who has thrived at center in his first three games with the team. Yurtseven is scheduled to be a restricted free agent in the offseason.
Another option would be to agree with a parting of 42-year-old captain Udonis Haslem, who has barely played this season, but that is a highly unlikely outcome for a franchise icon.
Because he was waived by March 1, Dragic is eligible to sign with any team by the April 9 final day of the regular season to be playoff eligible.
Dragic, 6 foot 3, appeared in 51 games for the Bulls, averaging 6.4 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 15.4 minutes per game. He signed a one-year contract at the veteran minimum with the Bulls on Aug. 2.