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Riley open to big trade before 2021 summer

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Jimmy Butler is 30. Can Riley find a star for him before he goes downhill?

Miami Heat Introduce Jimmy Butler Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Miami Heat will have cap space again in 2021, after the contracts to James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk come off the books. That’s when Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard can be free agents.

But Pat Riley said that he would be open to a big trade before then.

Below is an excerpt from an article by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

Asked about winning while maintaining the flexibility of cap space in 2021, he said: “Right now, we’re in the present moment. We can manage all the flexibility that we need depending on how we see the team perform. I’m patient, but if something happens and it can make a huge difference, I’m all for it. If not, we’ll wait.

Over the summer, reporters linked the Heat to trades for Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. I was skeptical about both of them, and I’m glad Riley didn’t make either trade. But if a younger player on a more friendly contract became available, should the Heat wait until the unknown summer of 2021?

Jimmy Butler is 30 years old. He’s played great to start the season — even emerging as a point forward — but he’ll be 32 before the 2021-22 season. How long can the Heat expect Butler to continue playing at a high level?

I like Riley’s emphasis on flexibility. The Heat should only trade for a star if it won’t mortgage Miami’s future. The Heat already do not have their 2021 or 2023 first-round picks, so they should be reluctant to give up their young talent.

Riley also briefly addressed Dion Waiters’ ongoing 10-game suspension.