The Miami Heat are still in the thick of a playoff race. The six through eighth seeds are all still up for grabs, with Miami currently sitting in the final slot.
With all that being said, what is the cap on this year’s team? Most fans would say that Miami will not survive this year’s first round matchup with an Eastern Conference power. Part of the issue is the lack of a go-to scorer, and with Dwyane Wade’s retirement looming the Heat will lack a true clutch shooter heading into the final minutes of a tight game. The organization desperately needs someone to take those types of shots on a nightly basis.
The Heat don’t have available cap space until 2020, when many of their hefty contracts come off the books. But if they want to appear as an enticing free agent destination when the new decade rolls around, they’ll need to secure a solid foundation that would prevent a new star from shouldering all the load when they sign.
So here are some potential trade ideas for Miami to take a look at this offseason. The trades work salary-wise, and I took into account how the deals would help the opposing team, too.
Trade Idea #1: CJ McCollum
Miami gets – SG CJ McCollum
Portland gets – PF Kevin Love, SG Dion Waiters, SG Jordan Clarkson
Cleveland gets – SG Evan Turner, C Hassan Whiteside, 2019 1st Round Pick (MIA), 2019 1st Round Pick (POR)
Why Miami Takes The Deal:
Losing the 2019 first rounder hurts a bit, but the player Miami gets in return will be well worth it. CJ McCollum has been a premiere scorer alongside Damian Lillard for the better part of four seasons, and an expanded role could inflate his abilities even more. The 27-year-old is averaging over 21 points per game, to go along with 4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Although he can be targeted defensively, having a larger player at the point beside him like Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson covering larger 2’s and 3’s could help mask some of those deficiencies.
McCollum’s deal is pretty on par with his production. He’s on the books for two more years after this season, banking in $27 million in 2019-2020 and $29 million in 20-21.
Lastly, shedding the contracts of both Whiteside and Waiters would be a blessing for the Heat, as they’ve already explored those avenues before. Whiteside’s contract becomes enticing because it’s expiring, while Waiters still two more seasons left on his deal.
Why Portland takes the deal:
If the Blazers don’t make it out of the first round of this year’s postseason, it will be hard to imagine the team marching out next season with a largely similar team. Someone has to go, and it won’t be Damian Lillard. McCollum is easily more expendable and will fetch the most assets in return.
And this haul the Blazers get from Miami and Portland is solid. Kevin Love would be a great fit alongside both Lillard and center Jusuf Nurkic, who is more of a big body that crashes the boards and lives around the rim.
The team will also receive a pair of guards who would do well in replacing the production of McCollum in Dion Waiters and Jordan Clarkson. Waiters hasn’t been as productive this season, but he is still working his way back into playing shape after missing more than a year due to injury. When he’s fully healthy, he’s a dangerous sharpshooter and slasher off the bench.
Meanwhile, Clarkson is quietly having his best professional campaign, averaging just a hair under 17 points per game while shooting 44.5% from the field. Clarkson’s PER is also the highest it’s ever been at 16.9. The 26-year-old is just entering his prime and can work well to add depth to a Blazers team that is known for relying heavily on it’s stars.
Why Cleveland takes the deal:
The Cavaliers are not trying to win now or anytime soon. The players they receive in this deal will not help them win now or in the future. Therefore, this is a good deal for them.
The main draw here is the two first round picks. They can ask for a future pick rather than this year’s selections, hoping that Miami and Portland will be in a worse state than they are in now. But two first rounds picks are still valuable for a team looking for building blocks, no matter what year.
Cleveland takes on Hassan Whiteside’s bulky deal, but it expires at the end of next season. Even if Whiteside isn’t the premiere center many expected he’d form into, he’s still a playable guy that makes highlight reel plays and can add some excitement to a fanbase devoid of much joy.
Evan Turner’s contract also ends after the 2019-20 season. Those are two minute-soaking deals for a team in full-fledge tank mode.
Trade Idea #2: Aaron Gordon
Miami gets – PF Aaron Gordon
Orlando gets – PG Goran Dragic, SF Derrick Jones Jr., 2019 1st Round Pick
Why Miami takes the deal:
Aaron Gordon is an intriguing player. After taking a big jump last year with career highs in scoring (17.6 points per game) and rebounds (7.9 rebounds per game), Gordon has stagnated this season. His points per game is down (16.1), and he’s crashing the boards at roughly the same rate (7.4). His shooting statistics have stayed largely the same.
Some of that would have to do with the glut of big men that the Magic own. Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic and rookie Mo Bamba are all in need of playing time, which means that Gordon isn’t getting the necessary amount of work down low and shot attempts he needs.
Enter Miami. With the Heat, the 23-year-old would most likely headline the starting lineup as the primary scorer. His athleticism and ability to create for others (3.6 assists per game this season) would work wonders in a Heat system that thrives on multiple ball handlers. Miami has a knack for sharpening up players that haven’t found their rhythm yet, and this could be the perfect experiment to take on.
Giving up Dragic and Jones Jr. isn’t ideal, but giving Justise Winslow the permanent point guard gig could help him reach his full potential quicker. Jones Jr. is a fine young player, and should be enough to tilt the needle a bit. Finally, the first round pick is once again interchangeable for one later on in the future, but it would have value nonetheless.
Why Orlando takes the deal:
I already touched on it in the previous segment, but the Magic have to move at least one of their big men. And even that might not be enough.
Shedding Gordon would alleviate some of that logjam. Jonathan Isaac has looked good in spurts this year and could make a jump next year. Mo Bamba could potentially get more minutes with Vucevic at power forward. By taking Gordon off their books, Orlando is also getting rid of one of their biggest salaries.
Goran Dragic is the big get for the Magic. I know that they just got Markelle Fultz, but no one is sure that he’ll play well enough to hold down the point guard spot long term. This gives them a year with a great floor general that can help some of the younger players on the roster develop. Dragic has averaged almost five assists throughout his entire career and can still fill it up on any given night. Considering it doesn’t look like the Magic are trying to tank any time soon, this would give them a better chance at the playoffs with a true playmaker directing traffic.
They’ll also have a first round pick to stash in the future, along with an interesting prospect in Derrick Jones Jr. that has shown flashes of unparalleled athleticism and finesse.
Trade Idea #3: Jrue Holiday
Miami gets – SG Jrue Holiday
New Orleans gets – SG Josh Richardson, SF Derrick Jones Jr., C Kelly Olynyk, 2019 1st Round Pick
Why Miami takes the deal:
While the drama plays itself out in New Orleans surrounding Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday is the odd many out. He’s stated that one of the main reasons he signed long term with the Pelicans was to play alongside Davis, but now that he is no longer part of the team’s future, where does that leave Holiday?
At 29, Holiday is now in his prime and playing some of the best ball of his career. He’s averaging over 21 points per game, along with five rebounds and 7.7 assists. He would be an ideal fit at the shooting guard for the Heat, where he can take on the role of primary scorer and become the secondary ball-handler.
Holiday is on the books for at least the next two seasons, and can possibly make that three if he decides to take his player option in 2021. Holiday can also be used as a player who can attract other stars in the league.
In turn, Miami will give up Josh Richardson, Derrick Jones Jr., and Kelly Olynyk. Richardson took another jump this season, but has been wildly inconsistent and struggled to shoot as effectively as he did last year. Jones Jr. is a tough loss but still expendable, and Olynyk would thin out the back line of the rotation to give more playing time to a guy like Bam Adebayo. Hopefully, Adebayo will start stretching the floor out a bit more and cover some of the strengths that Olynyk leaves.
Why New Orleans takes the deal:
As much as the Pelicans might refrain from saying it, it’s pretty clear they’re about to enter tank season for the next few years. If so, Jrue Holiday should be one of the team’s top priorities to ship out of the Big Easy.
In this deal, they get a great young player in Josh Richardson, who is still just 25 years old. Richardson can take on an even larger scoring role without the pressure of having to make the playoffs. Olynyk would provide a band-aid for the huge hole they’ll have when they decide to ship Davis somewhere else. He’s got a great shooting stroke and plays solid team defense.
Once again, DJJ and the 2019 first rounder are the two sweeteners, and I believe that can be enough to swing this deal and get Holiday wearing red and white.