10 Deals Miami Heat Must Target Before NBA Trade Deadline
Commentary // 2 weeks ago
By: Alex Toledo
It’s New Years. The Miami Heat are 19-17. Last year’s run may or may not be looking like something of a fluke. Dion Waiters isn’t cultured up anymore. We’re less than 40 days from the NBA Trade Deadline. And everyone’s kind of sick of Hassan Whiteside again.
So, what now? … I can hear it in the winds.
#TRADEMACHINESZN is byke!
— HEAT NATION (@HeatvsHaters) December 30, 2017
Since December 15, the public has been able to open up ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine like an Overwatch loot box with the amount of players who are now trade-eligible.
Outside of Josh Richardson (because of NBA rules involving extensions) and Udonis Haslem (a.k.a. the realest in the league who can veto any trade since signing another One-Year Bird contract, plus a welcomed addition to bench-fainting), every other Heat player can now officially be dealt this season.
This comes after a 60-day trade restriction on James Johnson (actually my birth father), Waiters (emotional rollercoaster), Kelly Olynyk (a.k.a poor man’s Nikola Jokic) and Jordan Mickey’s new contracts from this summer.
The team that Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and the Heat envisioned after doubling down on last season’s breakout run features a movement-heavy, egalitarian offense spearheaded by Dragic and Waiters. Last year, that starting backcourt combined for 45 points on 47 percent shooting (45 percent on 3-pointers).
Although the combined points are still there this season, they’re doing it on a less efficient clip, specifically from 3-point range. While Dragic’s percentage only went down from 40 percent to about 38 percent, Waiters went from a 39 percent 3-point shooter to a 31 percent one.
Miami is ranked in the bottom ten of the league in turnovers. The first couple months of basketball have had some … interesting month-by-month samples.
Spoelstra ready to murder someone pic.twitter.com/ZJOhfAm2Ne
— Brendan Tobin (@Brendan_Tobin) December 30, 2017
Dragic’s scoring dipped from 18 points per game in November (shooting 46 percent from the field and 40 percent from three) to 13 points per game this month (shooting 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from three).
Admittedly, not good.
The problem is: Dragic’s December numbers are about the same as Waiters’ season numbers. On the other hand, the rest of the Heat’s guards have pretty much turned everything around this month.
Heat guards in December
Josh Richardson: 18.1 PPG, 69.4% TS, +6.0 NET
Ellington: 12.9 PPG, 66.0% TS, +7.4 NET
TJ: 14.4 PPG 66.2% TS, +6.8 NET
Dion: 12.4 PPG 48.9% TS, -5.7 NET
Goran: 12.9 PPG, 47.3% TS, -4.9 NET
— dylan (17-15) (@djl_137__) December 23, 2017
So how much of these monthly shooting samples are just small samples correcting themselves? What are WE supposed to actually believe in?
After posting an offensive rating of 104 or higher over the past two seasons, Whiteside’s offensive rating this year is 96.8—the worst on the team—while only playing in half of the games (15 of 29).
Although Miami’s defensive rating has been about three points worse without Whiteside on the floor (who’s had an elite defensive rating for a few seasons now), the Heat’s offensive rating has also been three points better during his 13-game absence rehabbing a bone bruise in his left knee.
However, the biggest problem might just be a byproduct of Waiters not hitting threes and not being very good. The Dragic-Waiters backcourt hasn’t played well together. After having a solid 2.2 net rating last season, Dragic-Waiters two-man lineups, despite posting a better defensive rating by two this season, are sporting a minus-7.7 net rating this year.
Waiters is taking two more shots than Dragic, and, as I write this, Waiters and Dragic both have the exact same 25.7 usage rating. That’s right:
USG% heat Twitter is sick right now
— Dark Skin Michael Beasley (@ChefTrillie) March 20, 2016
The team that went 30-11 through the second half of last season was much better offensively (by three points, according to offensive rating). And again, the defensive rating for both teams is about 104 — with the only difference being that it ranked them fifth in the NBA last year, while this year, it’s gotten them 10th.
It might be safe to make some of these statements through 36 games:
• The offense needs to be better.
With Whiteside’s return on Tuesday, hopefully the team can continue to sustain their improved offensive output (not sure if the two are necessarily mutually exclusive anymore).
• The ankle Waiters elected to not have surgery on during the offseason is holding him back from doing much cardio, making him horrible for 90 percent of games, approximately.
No, but seriously. He places 356th out of nearly 450 players in offensive rating and 360th out of 431 in true shooting percentage. His VORP, box plus-minus and win shares are also down. And although his finishing at the rim is up, his turnover percentage is also up while his assist percentage is way down.
• They do a lot more winning when they’re hitting threes.
Wait, do they? Miami is attempting five more threes per game, making two more threes per game and are also shooting at a better clip by one percentage point (37.1 percent) than last season.
• The defense is good.
• They turn the ball over entirely too much.
• Miami owes a pair of first-round picks in 2017 and 2021 to the Phoenix Suns and could maybe use some more.
NBA Trade Machine Deals Miami Should Be Monitoring
With everything I just laid out, what are the Miami Heat supposed to do? Well, it’s time to bring back the Trade Machine for a second go-around and crack a guess at some trade scenarios and targets before Feb. 8.
The Heat front office may just wait out the next stretch of games through January before re-evaluating on whether or not they are a playoff team, and as a result, whether or not they should be buying or selling this trade deadline. In other words, it could go either way (shoutout to the Deuces Podcast Network).
I don’t wanna sort this into “buy or sell” or any type of category. My method is gonna be to just surprise you with my unhumble suggestions—some wilder than others.
1. Young Gun & Salary Dump I
Miami Heat Receive: C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner, Myles Leonard, Jusuf Nurkic
Portland Trailblazers Receive: Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow
Alright, look. What if C.J. McCollum wants out, right? Maybe! The Portland Trailblazers finished third in the chase for Whiteside in 2016, and Jusuf Nurkic (about to be a free agent) hasn’t been as effective as he was last season. They upgrade at the 5 while rounding out the rest of their roster and get rid of the Turner and Leonard contracts.
— HeatChalk (@nowhitechalk) May 20, 2016
2. Young Gun & Salary Dump II
Miami Heat Receive: Andrew Wiggins, Gorgui Deng, Cole Aldrich, Nemanja Bjelica, Tyus Jones
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Okaro White
The Minnesota Timberwolves are bad at defense. Like really, really bad. Coach Thibs (who I think we can put in the same class of coach as Doc Rivers, ahem, overrated), doesn’t seem to love Andrew Wiggins, I think.
Sure, they did just give him a max extension. But if the T-Wolves could get rid of a bad Gorgui Dieng deal, the Wiggins max and improve their bench and center position some (since they like starting two centers together), then this deal may work. Voila?
Editor’s Note: The Utah Jazz are LOGO STEALING BITERS. They deserve everything bad to happen to them until they apologize monetarily. Never forget.
3. Point Guard-Center Shuffle
Miami Heat Receive: Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder
The Hornets are 10-19. Although they might wanna hold onto Kemba Walker with an All-Star Game in Charlotte coming in 2019, they may be open to selling off their guys. Walker is a young All-Star caliber point guard who gives the Hornets a 108 offensive rating when he’s on the court compared to a 90 offensive rating while he’s on the bench.
He might also do you better with recruiting than Dragic does. Maybe Dwight Howard doesn’t help so much in that aspect, but with that being said, I’d still take whatever slight downgrade Howard is from Whiteside. He’s also on a shorter deal than Whiteside, which is cool. And he looks just like Bam.
4. Culture Project & First-Rounder
Miami Heat Receive: Emmanuel Mudiay, Kenneth Faried, Nuggets First-Round Pick
Denver Nuggets Receive: Goran Dragic, Okaro White, Rodney McGruder
The Denver Nuggets would be including one of their upcoming first-round picks in this hypothetical. Emmanuel Mudiay has looked much better than he did last season. With the Nuggets looking to solidify a playoff spot, they get a definitive upgrade at point guard, which gets Jamal Murray to play more of an off-ball role. They get rid of Kenneth Faried and his deal, like they’ve been trying to for, I think, 14 years.
They also get a couple guys they can stick in their rotation since the only small forward on their roster is Wilson Chandler. I don’t know where the Heat would stick Faried in their rotation, and I would be slightly afraid to find out the answer.
Editor’s Note: Send me what a Denver Nuggets player looks like…
5. Upside & Picks
Miami Heat Receive: Bismack Biyombo, Terrence Ross, Mario Hezonja Elfrid Payton, Magic 2018 1st Round Pick
Orlando Magic Receive: Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside
The Orlando Magic send an upcoming first-round pick and second-round p in the deal as well. Heat sell off their two highest-paid players for a couple picks and some fliers on somewhat talented young guys, which would make it a team filled with somewhat talented young guys and fliers. Who else saw Mario Hezonja drop 28?
6. Renting For A Whale
Miami Heat Receive: Paul George, Steven Adams
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington
Sam Presti got burned by Kevin Durant two summers ago. The rumors about Paul George to LA have been pretty rampant for a long time, and there’s been talk around NBA circles apparently that Presti doesn’t wanna get burned again.
George is going to be a free agent this summer, and if the Oklahoma City Thunder are still under .500 and/or not in the playoff picture when February comes around … I don’t know man. The Thunder get a couple of nice role players to put around the team and upgrade at center without having to pay more.
7. Dallas Do-Over
Miami Heat Receive: Nerlens Noel, Wesley Matthews, Mavericks Second-Round Pick
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Okaro White
Is Mark Cuban still interested in Whiteside? Also, Noel literally isn’t in Rick Carlisle’s rotation. The Heat shed some nice money with this deal and the return isn’t bad, with the Mavs also throwing in a second-rounder here.
8. Not Enough Kellys
Miami Heat Receive: Kelly Oubre, Ian Mahinmi, Markieff Morris, Sheldon Mac, Future Wizards First-Round Pick
Washington Wizards Receive: Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, Jordan Mickey
The Wizards throw in a first and a second, get off of a terrible Ian Mahinmi deal while getting a nice upgrade at the 5 and get Waiters to produce off the bench (where he should be). The Heat get another prospect in Oubre to develop, a couple of okay picks and some rotation players.
9. The Ultimate Asset Gamble
Miami Heat Receive: Tristan Thompson, Cedi Osman, Brooklyn Nets 2018 First-Round Pick
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Hassan Whiteside
Cavs give up their Brooklyn Nets first rounder, which will most likely land in the top 10. They get a definite upgrade at the 5. They get off the Tristan Thompson deal, but the Heat might also have to take on a Channing Frye or Iman Shumpert deal, too. Probably won’t happen.
10. Whiteside Better?
Miami Heat Receive: Jabari Parker, John Henson, Matthew Dellevedova
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Hassan Whiteside, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder
The Los Angeles Clippers reportedly asked the Milwaukee Bucks for a package of Kris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and John Henson for DeAndre Jordan. The Bucks get a similar, but slower talent in Whiteside without having to give up as much. They also get off the Henson and Matthew Dellevedova deals while getting back cheap, effective role players. Jabari Parker was probably headed for a large deal too coming off a torn ACL.