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Could draft pick flexibility help Heat land P.J. Washington?

Washington and Tyler Herro were teammates in college.

Charlotte Hornets v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

A few days ago, Greg Sylvander of the 5 Reasons Sports network reported that the Miami Heat were interested in Charlotte Hornets power forward P.J. Washington. Sylvander said that a deal was unlikely, though. Washington is a former lottery pick — Charlotte actually picked him just one spot ahead of when Miami picked Tyler Herro in the 2019 NBA Draft. Both Washington and Herro played their lone college season with the Kentucky Wildcats.

But now after trading KZ Okpala to the Oklahoma City Thunder and amending draft protections, the Heat can trade either their 2022 or 2023 first-round pick. (Teams cannot trade their first-round picks in consecutive seasons.) Does this flexibility mean P.J. Washington could be traded to Miami by tomorrow’s deadline?

Washington could fill the role of backup power forward for Miami. Markieff Morris was supposed to have that role, but Caleb Martin has admirably filled in for most of this season with Morris sidelined. Still, having another serviceable power forward on the roster is a plus. P.J. Tucker is 36 years old, after all.

Even with this added flexibility, I see a trade as unlikely. Miami would probably only be willing to trade their 2022 or 2023 first-round pick and Omer Yurtseven. The Heat would need to include more to trade for Washington. With the Heat at the top of the Eastern Conference, a late-first round pick isn’t that valuable. (Teams may actually prefer early second-round picks because only first-round picks have guaranteed contracts.)

I don’t see the Heat including Max Strus in the deal. Strus has become a good insurance option if Duncan Robinson has an off night. Victor Oladipo still hasn’t returned, and Jimmy Butler and Strus have gotten close.