Will the Heat make another trade before Thursday’s deadline? A look at some of the factors
The Miami Heat began the week of the NBA trade deadline by creating roster and financial flexibility.
That happened Tuesday afternoon when the Heat traded center Dewayne Dedmon and an unprotected 2028 second-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for cash considerations in a move that creates flexibility to convert undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson from a two-way contract to a standard contract, add a player in a trade and/or in the free agent and buyout market.
The question now becomes: What will the Heat do in the coming hours ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline?
On Tuesday night, the Heat agreed to sign developmental guard Jamaree Bouyea to a 10-day contract to temporarily fill one of the two open roster spots that the Dedmon trade left behind. Bouyea signed his 10-day deal on Wednesday afternoon in time to be available for Wednesday night’s matchup against the Indiana Pacers at Miami-Dade Arena.
As the Heat continues to explore the trade market in the final hours before the deadline, it has already been well-documented that Miami is not expected to cross the luxury tax threshold this season unless it’s for a significant addition to the roster.
But Tuesday’s trade of Dedmon moved the Heat about $200,000 from the tax line to about $4.9 million from the tax line, giving Miami more cushion to take back more salary in a potential trade than it sends out while still avoiding the tax.
Even after agreeing to sign Bouyea to a 10-day contract, the Heat is still about $4.8 million from the tax and still has one open roster spot after unloading Dedmon without getting a player in return.
This opens more trade possibilities for Miami because it’s in position to take in more money and one more player back than it sends out in a deal.
But there are also factors working against another Heat trade before Thursday’s deadline.
Of the 13 trade-eligible Heat players on standard contracts, five (Udonis Haslem, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Haywood Highsmith and Omer Yurtseven) are on minimum contracts and one is on a cheap rookie contract (Nikola Jovic). Because of the NBA’s salary-matching rules, even combining three of these small contracts would only work to acquire a player making roughly between $9 million and $11 million this season, and that type of deal would leave the Heat with multiple open roster spots.
“The problem is there’s not many of those sweet spot contracts,” ESPN analyst and former Nets executive Bobby Marks said to the Miami Herald. “There’s a reason why Brooklyn was able to do a deal. Dallas has a hoard of those, the $10-12 million guys that you can kind of add in there. Outside of your main guys, you’re looking at Victor [Oladipo] and Duncan [Robinson] and Caleb [Martin], guys like that. It becomes a little bit more challenging.”
The other seven Heat players on standard contracts eligible to be traded are Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Oladipo, Martin, Tyler Herro.
Nobody expects Adebayo or Butler to be dealt this week.
It would be difficult to trade Herro before July because of the “poison pill provision” that was triggered when the Heat extended his rookie contract.
Oladipo can’t be traded without his permission because of the structure of his contract.
Martin is seen as one of the Heat’s assets. He’s in the first season of a manageable three-year, $20.4 million contract and currently starting, so it would likely take a significant upgrade for Miami to include Martin in a deal at this point.
And Lowry and Duncan Robinson are two injured players on expensive contracts who will be hard to trade before the deadline without including some type of sweetener. Both remain among Heat players available in trade talks
Lowry is on a $28.3 million salary this season and is due $29.7 million in the final season of his contract next season. He’s also dealing with ongoing left knee soreness that has had him in and out of the lineup since December.
Duncan Robinson is on a $16.9 million salary this season and is due about $47 million through the final three years of his contract. He has not played since Jan. 2 after undergoing finger surgery.
“You look at their roster, and it’s basically kind of a process of elimination with who’s available and who has value,” Marks said. “You’re not touching Bam and you’re not touching Jimmy. Herro, with the poison pill makes it hard. Not impossible, but unlikely.
“So then you look at Lowry, Duncan Robinson. Two players making a combined close to $45 million. Does either guy have value right now without adding draft compensation? That’s the hard part.”
The Heat is currently eligible to trade unprotected first-round picks in 2023 and 2028 or 2029. The Heat could unlock its 2027 first-round pick to include in a trade by lifting the lottery protections on the 2025 selection it owes the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But is the Heat willing to give up a first-round pick to facilitate a trade involving Lowry or Duncan Robinson this week when it might need the selection to put together the best possible trade package for any disgruntled star who could become available this offseason? That’s a question Miami’s front office is facing.
“You have to be careful as far as just moving one now and then all of a sudden on the night of the draft, you’re like: ‘I wish I had that first to use in a deal,;” Marks said. “I think what happens is because there’s a 3 p.m. deadline, you really have to have restraint. You really do. I mean, it’s like can you get a better deal three months from now but it might cost us maybe a couple games now? Or do we really think that this guy can win us a playoff series or give us depth? Is he going to fit into the rotation when we get into the playoffs? That’s always the big thing.”
Adding Dedmon’s $4.7 million salary to some of the Heat’s lower paid players would have combined to bring back a player on a more sizable salary. But using Dedmon in that type of trade is no longer an option after he was dealt to the Spurs.
The Heat also has its full allotment of $6.4 million of cash available that it can dip into to help complete a trade, along with a $4.7 million trade exception that it has a year to use and a $1.8 million trade exception available that is set to expire on Thursday.
The Heat has prioritized adding frontcourt reinforcement with size before the deadline, whether that’s a power forward who can start or play as Martin’s backup and/or another backup center option behind Adebayo. It remains to be seen if Miami will be able to address any of its needs in a trade prior to Thursday’s deadline.
“I would be surprised if Kyle is traded because he has another year left on his contract, unless you attach a first to him and then you get back maybe an expiring and that gives you more flexibility to re-sign your free agents this summer,” Marks said when asked for his prediction of what the Heat will do ahead of the deadline. “Victor has the power to veto a trade. I would think Caleb is an asset, but he’s a guy that starts for you. It’s kind of similar to what they went through last year. They moved KZ [Okpala] at the end and they opened up more money and they amended that pick. I think that’s kind of what you’re staring at right now.”