Miami Heat ‘Intriguing’ Trade Deadline Plans Revealed by NBA Exec

The Miami Heat are 21-15 after Monday night’s triumph over the Rockets to start off their current homestand. That’s excellent for a fourth-place tie in the Eastern Conference, and has them just 2.5 games behind the Sixers for third place. Considering Heat trade rumors were the trendiest subject around the NBA in the last six months, that’s not a bad outcome as team president Pat Riley sits a month ahead of the trade deadline.

The focus of Heat trade speculations was, of course, point guard Damian Lillard. But when the Heat passed on completing a deal for him, the idea was that they’d still trade for a star in the months ahead. But here we are, a month before the NBA trade deadline and things are quiet on the Heat trade rumor front.

Ex-Sixer James Harden? No, thanks.

Bulls star Zach LaVine? Not interested.

Another Bull, DeMar DeRozan? No discussions there.

Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell? Nothing doing.

Remember when Heat standout Tyler Herro replied to Heat trade speculations two weeks ago by declaring the team did not need to make a trade, that the roster was good enough to win as is? It is almost as if the entire organization thinks that.


“They’re an intriguing team when it comes to the deadline,” one Eastern Conference executive told Heavy Sports. “Because if you listen to everyone else, they want to make some big splash. But if you listen to them and look at what they’re actually doing … they don’t.”

Injuries Have Affected View of Deadline
According to Spotrac, the Miami Heat have lost 120 games due to injury, which is the fourth-most in the NBA. If you weight those games by salary—not a perfect measure, but an indication that an injury to a star like Jimmy Butler is tougher than an injury to Dru Smith—the Heat have lost $22.6 million to injury, third in the NBA.

That’s one key reason why the Heat are not active on the trade market. They have done pretty effectively without having their whole rotation together this season. The combination of Butler, Herro and Bam Adebayo have started just eight games together, and the Heat have used a league-high 19 starting lineups.

Along the way, they’ve gotten improved showings from veterans Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson. They’ve gotten great play from youngster Jaime Jaquez Jr. They’ve received the kind of excelling-in-their-roles play we’ve come to expect from Spoelstra’s teams, with relative unknowns Orlando Robinson, Jamal Cain, Haywood Highsmith chipping in. Second-year man Nikola Jovic has put himself into the rotation, too.

“It’s like a deck of cards and they keep adding a new card to their deck,” the exec said. “Now they have Jovic going. They added Jaquez. They have Duncan Robinson playing again, and performing wonderfully. Haywood Highsmith does his thing for them. So you start the season and you say, ‘Sh**, they have no depth and they’re gonna struggle, they need a major trade.’ And you get to January and suddenly they’re loaded. And they did not do anything, so you have to presume they’re not doing anything at the deadline, either.”

Finances Loom Over Miami Heat Trade Rumors
The reality of changing NBA finances, too, should temper whatever Miami Heat trade rumors crop up. The NBA is in the process of instituting a stricter luxury-tax regime this year and next, which will result in, basically, a hard cap and severely limit what teams that overspend can do on the market. That will have an impact on this year’s trade deadline.

The Heat have four large contracts left beyond this season–$101 million over two years for Butler; $93 million over three years for Herro; $39 million over two years for Robinson (the final year is not entirely guaranteed); and two years, $72 million for Adebayo. Also to consider: Adebayo is available for an extension in the winter.

The Heat have around $133 million committed for next season, and will need to pay forward Caleb Martin. Throw in the rookie contracts of Jovic and Jaquez, and they will be well above $150 million for seven players. They can’t afford to take back much compensation without jeopardizing their freedom.

“That’s the big thing,” the exec remarked. “Anything they do is going to be for an expiring (contract). They do not want to take on long-term money. So the stars that they’re connected to, it doesn’t add up. Unless it is a one-year deal kind of thing, it is hard to see them getting very active. Things change, certainly. But they truly do appear to prefer what they have.”

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