Samuel Dalembert is now facing the Miami Heat. Next season, he has interest in playing for them.

The Milwaukee Bucks center becomes a free agent this summer. Dalembert, who had discussions about joining the Heat before last season, expects they again will be in the mix.

“The Heat will be definitely an option,’’ Dalembert told FOX Sports Florida before his Bucks lost to the Heat 110-87 in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. “It’s up to them and seeing what’s going to be out there. But at this point you want to be with a contending team. You don’t want to go backwards, so you want to chase that promised land.’’

Dalembert began the season as Milwaukee’s starting center before being replaced by Larry Sanders in early December. While Sanders has emerged into a candidate for NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Dalembert didn’t play in Milwaukee’s last eight games or in Sunday’s playoff opener. It appears highly unlikely he will return to the Bucks next season.

During the free-agent frenzy in December 2011 before the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season, the Heat looked at Dalembert with their mid-level exception that started at $3 million. When Dalembert had reservations about signing for that amount, the Heat soon inked forward Shane Battier.

Dalembert said the Heat continued to talk to him about signing for an even lesser amount before he got a two-year, $13.7 million deal with Houston just before the start of the 2011-12 season. Dalembert, who was traded last June to the Bucks, now says he would be willing to sign this summer for money similar to what he turned down initially from the Heat if it means going to a top team.