The names have been out there and will continue to be out there when it comes to Miami Heat trade speculation.
But this is not about Jae Crowder, D’Angelo Russell, Bojan Bojdanovic, Jarred Vanderbilt, O.G. Anunoby, P.J. Washington, Norman Powell, Dorian Finney Smith, Malik Beasley, Kelly Olynyk or some other unknown target.
It’s about the other side of the Feb. 9 NBA trading deadline, that to get you have to give.
So while Part B of the trade equation tends to be the less sexy part, it also is worth considering the assets that would or could have to go out, and how and why they come into play.
All while accepting the reality that Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro aren’t going anywhere at the moment.
Kyle Lowry: There was a point when Lowry stood as the target of such exercises. Then came the injuries during last season’s playoffs and struggles this season.
Now, it’s as if Lowry largely is being measured as salary-cap ballast, earning $28.3 million this season and then due $29.7 million next season.
Yet to the notion of Lowry becoming more valuable in the offseason as an expiring contract, the league largely has ceased coveting such deals as a means to clear salary-cap space. Exhibit A this season is Kevin Love earning $28.9 million in the final year of his Cleveland Cavaliers contract and hardly being mentioned as a trade target around the league.
As for outside interest in Lowry as a contributor, there have been such mentions with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers, but there also is the issue of the treatment Lowry, 36, has required on his left knee.
Dewayne Dedmon: This was a contract seemingly written last July as a trade vehicle, with a $4.7 million salary this season and then a non-guaranteed $4.3 million next season. By adding that second season, the Heat removed the requirement of Dedmon’s approval for an in-season trade.
Having not played since his bench kerfuffle with Erik Spoelstra on Jan. 10, Dedmon, 33, seems destined to serve as the conduit to a trade acquisition or luxury-tax reduction, potentially making him this season’s version of what Meyers Leonard and KZ Okpala were previously for the Heat at trade deadlines.
Duncan Robinson: From the moment Robinson signed his five-year, $90 million deal in the 2021 offseason, the sense was it could serve as matching funds in a significant trade.
But now, having regressed with his shooting, it is not as simple as counting Robinson’s $16.9 million 2022-23 salary as a means to balance a deal under the cap, considering the acquiring team also would be on the hook for an additional three years at $57 million.
A sweetener likely would have to accompany Robinson unless there is a team that either truly covets his shooting or contract.
Max Strus: Strus’ situation in many ways is linked to Robinson.
As Robinson was in 2021, Strus will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. So if the Heat decide the price could run too high in July, this could be an opportunity to get cost-certainty in return in a trade.
On the other hand, if the Heat trade Robinson at the Feb. 9 deadline, it could make Strus more valuable to the Heat going forward as the team’s designated shooter.
Gabe Vincent: Vincent, like Strus, also becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. And like Strus, his trade-deadline fate could be linked to others on the roster.
For example, if Lowry is offloaded, it would further increase the need for Vincent at point guard. Also, if the Heat were to move off of Strus, it might make it easier to bring back Vincent as a longer-term developmental prospect, perhaps as an either/or equation with Strus.
Caleb Martin: In the first year of a three-year, $20.4 million deal, Martin stands as a value contract, earning $6.5 million this season. Of course, outside teams also covet value contracts, leaving Martin as a potential sweetener to a bigger deal.
In some ways, the Heat have been developing Haywood Highsmith as a Martin 2.0. While the upside might not be as high with Highsmith, it would provide a fallback should Martin be moved.
Nikola Jovic: With the Heat somewhat limited in future first-round picks they can deal, there is nothing preventing them from dealing last June’s first-rounder, at 19 certainly on the same timeline as a 2023 first-round pick.
No, Jovic would not be a centerpiece for a deal, but certainly could become part of a trade construct.
Victor Oladipo: This will require a degree of forward thinking by the Heat. While Oladipo arguably has outplayed the $8.8 million he is earning this season, the Heat have to be cognizant that he likely will opt out of his $9.5 million player option for next season.
So play it out and see where the money trail leads? Or preemptively get a return in the moment?
Then again, either question might prove moot, with Oladipo with the right to veto any deal.
Draft picks: The Heat’s hands are somewhat tied due to the lottery-protected first-round pick due to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2025, which otherwise goes to the Thunder unprotected in 2026.
Because teams are not allowed to be without first-round picks in successive future seasons, that precludes the Heat from dealing their 2024, ‘25, ‘26 and ‘27 first-rounders.
At the moment, that leaves available for deals the Heat’s first-round picks this June, as well as in 2028 or ‘29.
Cash: Teams during the NBA’s 2022-23 cap year are allowed to send out as much as $6.4 million total in cash in trades, with the Heat still in possession of that full allotment.
That figure is significant because it could allow the Heat to essentially sell off a contract, perhaps Dedmon’s, while sending along matching remaining salary for such a player as well as additional financial inducement for a deal.
Such a selloff could afford the Heat enough room below the luxury tax to either convert a two-way contract to a standard deal with playoff eligibility (Orlando Robinson, Jamal Cain), or fill the team’s vacant 15th roster spot.
IN THE LANE
WEIGHTY TALK: Having competed with Grant Williams during his prep career in North Carolina, Heat center Bam Adebayo playfully quipped ahead of this past week’s matchup about the transformation of the Boston Celtics forward. “His body has changed,” Adebayo said. “When he first got in the league, he was a little tubby. And I tell him that, regardless. He knows it. But the fact that he’s changed his body and really bought in to lifting weights, getting in shape. And he’s been shooting it better. He’s one of those guys now, he’s kind of like one of those detail-oriented guys on their team, where he’s in the right spot at the right time all the time.”
MOVING SEASON: Sidelined with an ankle sprain since Jan. 8, former Heat big man Kelly Olynyk has not lost sight of the reality that he likely is merely a rental for the youth-minded Jazz, possibly to be dealt at this season’s trading deadline just as he was by the Heat at the 2021 deadline. “It happens, you know. I’ve been traded twice now, a couple offseason moves and it is what it is,” Olynyk, 31, told the Deseret News. “Whoever you’re with, you want to continue to help that organization and franchise and be thankful for the opportunity they gave you if they move on. If not, you’re here and working with this group to keep building, keep getting better. When I first got in the league, you’re kind of anxious, nervous all the time. Now, it’s like, you’ve been through it, you’re not worried about it or thinking about it anymore.”
FOURTH CHANCE: Kendrick Nunn’s second chance could not have played out better, arriving to the Heat from a season in the G League with a breakout 2019-20, runnerup after that season to Ja Morant for Rookie of the Year. And then it slowed with the Heat in 2020-21. And then a knee injury derailed his next stop with the Los Angeles Lakers, not appearing in a single game last season. Now, with his recent trade to the Washington Wizards for Rui Hachimura there is hope for revival. The hope actually came in his Wizards debut that included a fierce transition dunk over Houston Rockets big man Bruno Fernando. “A lot of work for that. I had to get that back,” Nunn said of his perseverance these past two seasons. “It was a long process, too, as well. That’s just a testament to my hard work and discipline. It feels good to be healthy and just come out here and play and have fun.” Nunn will become a free agent at season’s end.
STILL CAN: Why, yes, that was 42-year-old New Orleans Pelicans coach Willie Green, the former NBA guard, throwing down a dunk last weekend during his team’s practice at Miami-Dade Arena. “You get in this humidity and it warms your ligaments up,” Green said. “I don’t know if I could do the same thing in Cleveland, Detroit. Every now and then, I can still get up there.”
13. Years since the Heat won a game when shooting as low as they did in Tuesday night’s victory over the Boston Celtics (.362, 34 of 94). That was when the Heat defeated the Charlotte Bobcats on March 20, 2010 when shooting .359 (28 of 78). That 77-71 Heat victory over Charlotte featured Michael Beasley and Carlos Arroyo.