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Community Shootaround: What Should Heat Do?

On Monday, we examined the Mavericks’ slow start and explored the next steps for a team that has avoided rebuilding for more than a decade and a half. Kevin O’Connor’s piece for The Ringer provided some context on the situation in Dallas, but the Mavs weren’t the only longtime contender identified by O’Connor as a team that should be tanking this season. O’Connor also suggested that the Heat, off to a 4-9 start after last night’s loss to the Sixers, should look toward the future.

The Heat were just one game away from an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in the spring, but this version of the team looks significantly different from that one. Veterans like Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, and – of course – Dwyane Wade are gone. Chris Bosh remains unable to play, and indications are that the team doesn’t expect him to return. Hassan Whiteside is thriving in an increased role, but he doesn’t have much help around him, and the Heat are off to a slow start.

As O’Connor observes, Heat president Pat Riley has long been averse to tanking, having said in the past that he doesn’t love the idea of having to do a full rebuild through the draft: “Lottery picks are living a life of misery. That season is miserable. And if you do three or four years in a row to get lottery picks, then I’m in an insane asylum.”

Still, the Heat’s core is somewhat lacking, with Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, and Josh Richardson joining Whiteside as the current building blocks. There’s certainly some talent there, but not enough to return to title contention. Miami will likely need to land another impact player to become a top team in the East again, and it remains to be seen where the team will find that guy.

South Beach is an appealing home for NBA players, meaning the Heat are always a major player in free agency, and the team should have some flexibility next summer, but top free agents may be reluctant to sign with the Heat if they’re coming off a lottery season. Additionally, having traded multiple future first-round picks in their deal for Dragic, the Heat aren’t loaded with future assets. And as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel observes, many of their veterans, such as Dion Waiters, Derrick Williams, James Johnson, Josh McRoberts, and Luke Babbitt, don’t have much trade value, due to their underwhelming performances or short-term contracts.

Riley has indicated that he intends to get another first-round pick for 2017 if it’s possible, which could mean trading Dragic at some point during the 2016/17 league year. The Heat also should end up with a pretty high draft pick of their own if they continue to struggle. If the 71-year-old Riley wants to accelerate the rebuilding process, he could attempt to turn Dragic and his first-rounder into a star via trade(s). But it may make more sense to exercise some patience and add some more young talent through the draft.

What do you think? Is it too early for the Heat to start to look ahead to 2017/18, or is this year’s team not a viable playoff contender? If Miami explores potential deals, is Dragic the only obvious trade candidate, or could they extract some value from other players? Does it make sense for the team to be patient with its rebuild or dangle its increasingly valuable 2016 first-rounder to try to land immediate help? Jump into the comments section below to share your opinions on the Heat!

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8 thoughts on “Community Shootaround: What Should Heat Do?

  1. mikey

    They’re a young team. They should trade dragic should get traded for a pick, to get a younger point guard. With them tanking, they’ll have Josh Richardson, Hassan whiteside, and justice Winslow, and then the pick they already have this year( probably top 5 pick) and whatever they can manage to get with dragic and whatever else they can ship out. Those two picks could fill the point guard and power forward positions. That’s a nice foundation to build on that could be a contending starting 5 in the future. Then they have Tyler Johnson leading the bench, and using the cap space for solid rotation players. That would be the dream situation. So they need to rebuild for the future. Key is trading dragic. I also think spoelstra needs to be let go, who was great with the big 3, but is not as great as people think, and should get a veteran coach who has the patience to develop and lead the team.

  2. As currently constructed, they could contend for a lower seed in the Eastern Conference, once they are comfortable playing with each other. If they continue to struggle, however, there are two scenarios (that I will consider, anyway)– one involving Dragic, and one without Dragic.

    With a core of Whiteside, Winslow, Richardson, and Johnson, they have the makings of a young, athletic, defense-oriented team. If Dragic is traded, a vacancy is created at point guard. This can be addressed through the draft/ free agency, but then you’re hoping to potentially fill two starting spots in the offseason (if you consider power forward). If, however, a free agent pitch can be made to a player such as Blake Griffin– that he can come to a young, talented, athletic team, whose potential championship window will be longer than it is with the Clippers– then you can aim to fill one spot with two prospects, while also strengthening the bench. This seems to be a more high-risk/ high-reward path that looks toward the future by making the team younger. It also seems like this path would be less likely to lure in a free agent, considering the unproven pieces.

    If there is nothing palatable on the trade market, then Dragic is another proven piece to retain on a pretty good contract. If the path is to keep Dragic, the Heat retains the rest of its core, and uses that core– including a potentially high draft pick– to lure in a free agent, such as Blake Griffin (who Pat Riley will most definitely have on his radar). Then, a pitch could be made for a very similar style of play to the Clippers– fast-paced PG, lobs and dunks abound, defense, etc. It would fill all starting positions (Dragic, Richardson, Winslow, let’s say Griffin or another free agent, and Whiteside), while initially allowing the rookie to gain experience off of the bench– very similar to what the Heat did with Winslow. Keeping Dragic would be a sign that Riley is aiming for another contender sooner, rather than later. He’s a proven, solid piece. Considering Whiteside is their new centerpiece, and considering he is approaching 30, this may be the more prudent choice. It provides a good mix of talented youth and experience.

    A lot of this, of course, depends on the development of many of the younger pieces. If Winslow cannot develop his offense, if Richardson stalls, or something along those lines, then this is all a moot point; Dragic and others may be traded, signaling a complete reset. It also depends on what happens in free agency. Riley always has his eyes set on a whale, such as Griffin, but we all know there are no certainties in free agency.

    All of that said, Riley could throw a curveball by trading Dragic and a young player or two in a package for another star, or something else…

  3. Gdann

    Best trade scenario would be John Wall for Goran Dragic, Babbit or ellington and heat 2017 draft pick. Then with the remaining salary available try to lure Gordon Hayward to join the Heat this summer. That would give us the core of the future. A starting lineup of Wall, Josh, Winslow, Gordon, Hassan (ages: 26, 23, 20, 26, 27 respectively) for 2017 locked up for another 4 years.

    • That sounds reasonable considering Wizards record and the conflict rumors between Wall and Beal. That combination would not require Wisnlow to become a shooter since Wall, Josh, Gordon can hit the three.

    • Gucci7383

      I’m not trading wall for that package.
      I’d call the 76ers who need a pg bad first and see what kind of picks and young players they’d be willing to move

  4. i don’t think they can trade their 2017 first round pick b/c a team can’t trade first round picks in consecutive years. the first rounders from 2016/18 have already been traded…

    • Luke Adams

      Yeah, they can’t trade the 2017 first-rounder at this point. There are options though, if they did want to use it as a chip. They could trade it if they were to acquire a second first-round pick, or they could trade it next summer after using it to select a player.

  5. manny gonzalez

    I like the idea of block buster trade with sacramento kings for example :

    Dragic – winslow – 17 draft pick – josh mc roberts – tyler johnson .

    for

    sf rudy gay
    Pg D.Collison
    C D.Cousins

    I think pat riley dream about this….

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