Southeast Notes: Heat, Mahinmi, Smith

Pat Riley has to do more than just appease paying customers, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, the team president needs to steward the future of the Heat franchise. That means, despite the 13-game win streak that has suddenly put Miami within striking distance of the playoffs, the club would be wise to approach the February 23 trade deadline with caution.

This summer will be a pivotal one for the Heat, Winderman writes, citing things like Chris Bosh‘s contract situation and the fact that the club has already traded two of the club’s next four first-rounders as reasons why they ought to be smart about how they structure the team heading forward. The draft matters now more than ever, he adds, suggesting that hasty moves to load up on short-term assets this week would only hurt their 2017 draft position.

Winderman notes that the camaraderie in the Heat locker room is similar to that of the upstart 2004/05 Heat team anchored by a rookie Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odom and Caron Butler. That team started slow but rallied to become a playoff team. Tellingly, it wasn’t long after the turnaround when Riley opted to cash in his chips in the blockbuster deal that netted Shaquille O’Neal.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • It wasn’t long ago when Heat forwards Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson appeared to be reasonably untouchable, writes Ira Winderman in a separate piece for the Sun Sentinel, but Miami’s recent improvement may have altered that. Now that the club isn’t in position to land a Top 3 pick, Winderman says, the club might consider holding onto Goran Dragic more than anybody else.
  • After missing 50 games for the Wizards through the first four months of the season, Ian Mahinmi isn’t about to take time off during the All-Star Break, writes Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The big man inked to a four-year, $64MM deal over the summer has been on a minutes restriction and will look to get himself back into a rhythm in the second half.
  • The return of Ian Mahimi has eaten into backup center Jason Smith‘s minutes but the consummate professional made an impression while filling in for the injured big man. “What he’s done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks tells Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. Smith has averaged close to 14 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes so far this season.
  • The Hornets complicated their cap situation when they acquired Miles Plumlee earlier this month but retain some expiring contracts that could be dealt ahead of the deadline. General manager Rich Cho, Bobby Marks of The Vertical explains, has made four trade deadline deals since his first year with the squad back in 2011.

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