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How a Celtics-76ers trade could help the Miami Heat

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Get ready for a crazy draft night on Thursday with a plethora of talented picks on the board.

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Washington Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Trial balloons and rumors surround a possible Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers swap of their draft picks as reported by ESPN

League sources said the Sixers and Celtics are working on a trade that, in its current iteration, would send a package of Sixers draft picks to Boston -- including Philadelphia's No. 3 overall selection in Thursday's draft -- in exchange for Boston's turn at No. 1.

and Woj of The Vertical.

In the proposed deal, Boston would acquire Philadelphia’s No. 3 overall pick in 2017 in a package that includes a future first from the 76ers, sources said. Philadelphia’s 2018 unprotected first-round pick that was acquired from the Lakers has been part of the discussions, sources said.

The SBNation’s CelticsBlog points out the lack of cap space in Boston to sign a max free agent in July.

The rumored NBA cap hike only lifting the ceiling of team salary to $101 million has been a highly-discussed thorn in the Celtics’ hope to sign a max-level free agent this summer. Retaining the team under contract as an appeal to said free agent, renouncing Kelly Olynyk and cutting ties with Tyler Zeller would have brought the team short of cap space for a max contract of $30.9 million with a roughly $7 million number-one overall pick salary factored in.

Instead, the site suggests the Chicago Bull’s Jimmy Butler looms as a likely target.

Jimmy Butler awards: 3-time NBA All-Star, 3-time NBA All-Defensive 2nd Team

NOTE: 76ers and Celtics have several upcoming draft picks, e.g. Brooklyn Nets’ 2019 first-rounder to Boston, in their pipelines. Both have a considerable amount of trade assets to make deals with this year and next.

The Celtics’ focus on Butler helps the Heat by leaving Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin one less option to head eastward to sidestep the Warrior juggernaut. As July 1st approaches, the contenders and pretenders for free-agents and trade possibilities start coming into focus.

If the Cleveland Cavaliers make a Kevin Love for Paul George trade, some interesting “Big 3” possibilities unfold in the Eastern Conference for the 2017-18 season.

Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Paul George

Boston Celtics: Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler

Philadelphia 76ers: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz

Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Hayward or Griffin

In face of the Golden State Warriors’ hold on the NBA’s Western Conference, elite players out west may be itching to head east, where the odds favor an easier path to the NBA Finals.

On the list of the top 25 NBA contracts in 2016-17, the number of players on the Warriors roster is: 1. 96% of the men with those contracts did not help their team win the NBA’s top trophy. Odds overwhelmingly suggest that a max contract will not automatically guarantee rings for his team’s players, in today’s environment. As Joshua Bateman writes, from a Celtics’ perspective,

If the opportunity is there, the Celtics will sign Hayward to a max contract. It is the kind of deal that could transform this franchise, but do not ignore the potential for this to set the team back, and close the window for this current core as they wait for their young players to develop into players that can lead a championship team.

No doubt lottery winners exist. To be fair, an accounting of all the teams with max-contract players, who do not win titles, must be included in any discussion about max signings. The Heat, as they currently stand today, may not win it all next season, but they have captured Heat fan’s hearts.

Personally, I envision Whiteside, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder significantly elevating their games over the summer. Adding the veteran leadership of Dragic and James Johnson, along with Wayne Ellington’s “Golden Arm,” gives the team a chance to compete for a deep title run.

The Heat way isn’t for everyone. The current roster has proven they can work with Coach of the Year nominee, Erik Spoelstra, to yield an exciting team, if Waiters stays healthy for the entire season.