At the trade deadline in early February, the Miami Heat traded away one of their promising young pieces, Justise Winslow, for Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill. Giving up Winslow also allowed Miami to unload Dion Waiters and James Johnson, who both had disappointing seasons that left Pat Riley “visibly angry” early in the season.
And now with the NBA season turned on its head — and the possibility that the 2020 season will be cancelled — will hindsight view the Winslow trade in unfavorable terms?
(It’s also important to note that Miami’s resistance to remove protections from their 2023 pick in discussions for Danilo Gallinari now looks much better in light of the unprecedented NBA suspension.)
Here's one key to getting this three-team deal done and Gallinari to Miami, league sources tell ESPN: Can OKC get Miami to lift the protections on a 2023 first-round pick the Heat owe the Thunder? The pick was originally protected in the top 14. https://t.co/6FMHjDieKI— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 6, 2020
Now, Winslow admitted, “The coaching staff thought I was able to play” after arriving to the Memphis Grizzlies. Winslow had suffered from a back injury that kept him out of all but one game since Dec. 4. Disagreements between players and teams surrounding injuries frequently lead to breakdowns in trust and eventual trades (see: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs).
The issue may not be about trading Winslow, but getting Andre Iguodala in return. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP signed a contract extension immediately after his trade to Miami. The whole point of having Iguodala on the Heat was to help Miami in playoff runs this year and next. But there’s a real possibility that the 2020 playoffs will be cancelled.
On the other hand, giving up an asset like Winslow allowed Miami to trade Johnson and Waiters. Crowder and Hill will both be free agents this off-season, giving Miami flexibility this summer. And Crowder had played well for Miami, providing some of the defensive versatility that a healthy Winslow would offer.
Winslow has missed 136 games since the 2015-16 season, his rookie year. It appeared that disagreements over the severity of his back injury left his days in Miami numbered. And trading him helped Miami get rid of two contracts they otherwise would’ve been stuck with until 2021. But the trade was a classic deal of young potential for playoff experience. And where does that leave you with no playoffs?