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Heat need help to trade for Durant or Mitchell

Can Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg pull this off?

Utah Jazz v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

It looks like the Miami Heat will need to get creative to trade for either Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell.

As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald said on Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Miami Heat “don’t have a 1-on-1 pathway to do a deal with Brooklyn.” And Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune said that the Utah Jazz “asked the Heat to engage a third team” if they’re interested in Mitchell.

Greg Sylvander of the 5 Reasons Sports Network reported on the subscription service “Off the Floor” that the Heat have recently discussed several trade scenarios to acquire draft picks. The clear implication is that the Heat are positioning themselves to make a more attractive offer for either Durant or Mitchell.

The only future Heat draft pick that’s out the door is a lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder. If that pick does not convey in 2025, it becomes an unprotected pick in 2026. If the Heat and Thunder agree to unlock protections on that pick, Miami would have more flexibility to offer picks in a trade. That’s because the NBA bars teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive seasons.

If the Heat manage to pull this off, they could go into this season with a drastically different roster than the one that came within a shot of making the NBA Finals. Miami could potentially trade Max Strus or Gabe Vincent for draft picks, for example.

Strus and Vincent both went undrafted and were two-way players during the 2020-21 season. Trading them now for future draft picks that could land Kevin Durant, say, is selling high.

But Strus and Vincent will each make $1.8 million this season. Having good rotation players on cost-controlled contracts is important for teams with a few high-paid players — which would be the case if Mitchell or Durant comes to Miami. Remember the 2010-11 season, when the Heat had players like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire who provided little in the playoffs?