Ira Winderman: If you insist, possible Heat deals that could make sense at Thursday’s NBA trading deadline
The exercise ahead of the NBA trading deadline, which this season comes at 3 p.m. Thursday, typically is to get a read on what a team is looking to add.
That is what makes the Miami Heat’s position this time around atypical. As much as anything, the starting point likely will be what Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg are looking to shed.
With the Heat so hard up against the NBA’s punitive luxury tax that they currently can afford to neither fill their vacant 15th roster spot nor convert the two-way contract of Orlando Robinson to a standard, playoff-eligible deal, Thursday appears to be more about offloading.
Move off Dewayne Dedmon’s $4.7 million salary and the door opens to add at least one more salary without exceeding the tax.
Deal Kyle Lowry and the $29.7 million he is due next season and it makes it far easier to restructure in the offseason around the 2023-24 money on the books for Jimmy Butler ($45.2 million), Bam Adebayo ($32.6 million) and Tyler Herro ($29.7 million).
Trade Duncan Robinson and the $58 million he has on the books after this season, and it eases the ability to determine how to handle the impending free agencies of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Omer Yurtseven.
So, no, the Heat are not sellers in the traditional trading-deadline sense of sacrificing this season for future seasons. In some ways, it would be the opposite, being able to create flexibility both in the moment and for the future.
So what might such an approach look like? We’ll spitball a few possibilities as examples that work under the cap and could produce desired impacts. No, not speculation. No, not “sources say.” But rather common-sense options for the Heat’s uncommon situation.
(And, at the end, we’ll address the Kyrie Irving in the room.)
Dewayne Dedmon for nothing
No, in the NBA you cannot trade a player without anything in return, so it would have to be receiving some sort of protected, never-to-actually-be-conveyed second-round pick in return.
But what you can do is send out Dedmon with enough cash to cover his remaining salary for this season, plus enough additional financial enticement to yield a net profit for a team that is operating under the salary cap.
Teams are allowed to send out up to $6.4 million total in trades during the NBA’s fiscal (July-to-June) cap year.
Even if the Heat were to take back a minimum-salary play in such a deal, it still could produce the wherewithal to fill two roster spots, potentially including one to convert Orlando Robinson’s two-way deal.
The Utah Jazz or Oklahoma City Thunder are possible landing spots in a Dedmon selloff.
Kyle Lowry to Los Angeles Clippers for Marcus Morris and John Wall
This plays into the notion of the Clippers’ desperation for something proven at point guard, as well as the financial wherewithal of Clippers owner Steve Ballmer to take on the type of salary hit most would veto.
Such a deal would come at $6 million cap savings this season for the Heat, plus a savings for 2023-24, when Morris is due $17.1 million in the final season of his deal.
Morris could help address Heat concerns at power forward. Wall, however, could wind up being bought out after such a deal, based on his uneven play in his comeback.
While Norman Powell would stand as a more tempting acquisition for the Heat over Morris, the Clippers likely would not go there.
The other possibility with Lowry is to wait until the offseason to utilize his expiring contract in a sign-and-trade deal for a bigger fish (but not necessarily a whale).
Duncan Robinson to Orlando Magic for Terrence Ross and Chuma Okeke
This comes down to the question of whether Robinson still has value on his inflated contract. But for a team that is not exactly viewed as a free-agency destination, it provides the Magic with the opportunity to lock in shooting for years to come.
In Ross, who currently is out of Orlando’s rotation, the Heat would get an expiring contract to help against future salary concerns, as well as a player who potentially could juice a Heat offense that ranks at the bottom of the league. The Heat have a history of adding those who previously have roasted them.
The composition of this deal also would save the Heat enough against the cap to add another minimum salary.
The Magic likely would prefer the Heat take on the money of Mo Bamba, but that would put the Heat into this season’s luxury tax, so instead Okeke’s minimal deal would be filler.
Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Nikola Jovic to Atlanta Hawks for John Collins
This is more a case of giving in to the rumor du jour and finding a possible entry point for a Heat move for Collins.
In Robinson, it could be argued the Hawks get a replacement shooter for the loss of Kevin Huerter, while also gaining Max Strus’ Bird Rights, should they prefer that possibility. Tossing in Jovic mitigates the Heat’s luxury-tax hit and offsets the Heat’s inability to come up with a package of draft picks.
Getting beyond whether that is enough for the Hawks is the question of whether Collins’ huge salary numbers for the following three seasons, topping out at $26.6 million in 2025-26 is too rich for the Heat’s cap sheets.
Max Strus and Nikola Jovic to Utah Jazz for Jarred Vanderbilt
No, not earth-shattering, but the ability to upgrade at power forward with the size closer to an actual power forward, which then would allow the Heat to re-inject Caleb Martin’s energy back into the second unit.
Such a deal would be cap neutral for this season, but would mean adding Vanderbilt’s $4.7 million next season.
Danny Ainge assuredly would prefer a draft pick than Jovic, but still would land pick-like potential in Jovic.
A deal like this is made if the Heat believe that there has to be more at power forward, at the cost of two players with arguably higher long-term upside.
All of that said, the belief is the Heat’s preference is to retain and re-sign both Strus and Vincent, with the more likely path to a player of Vanderbilt’s level on the March 1 buyout market.
The Kyrie Irving option
So now the Nets’ perpetually disgruntled guard wants a trade because Brooklyn would not offer the precise extension desired?
Yes, the Heat could build a package around Lowry, other players (perhaps Strus, Robinson) and picks. But once Lowry is included in a deal, it eliminates a matching contract for the Heat to put into play next summer if/when Kevin Durant or Bradley Beal come to market.
So Irving (and his baggage) now or something a bit more stable later?
Riley does love a whale, but does a friend foist Irving and Butler on a coach in the same locker room?