Instead of owing Oklahoma City their top-14 protected first-round pick in 2023, the Heat will now owe OKC their 2025 first-rounder (also top-14 protected).
That ’23 first-rounder would have been top-14 protected for three straight seasons before becoming unprotected in 2026. Now, the Heat’s ’25 first-rounder will be lottery-protected for just one year before becoming unprotected in ’26.
Essentially, the Thunder improved their odds of gaining a higher first-rounder by pushing the pick a couple years into the future (when the Heat could theoretically be less assured of having a playoff-caliber roster) and ensuring it has just one year of protection. Miami could also now trade its 2022 or 2023 first-round pick without running afoul of the Stepien rule.
The 2026 second-rounder the Heat acquired in the trade will be the least favorable of the Thunder’s, Mavericks’, and Sixers’ second-rounders that year, according to the Heat’s announcement.
Oklahoma City ended Mamadi Diakite‘s 10-day contract a day early in order to complete the trade, per the team. It’s not yet clear if the Thunder plan to hang onto Okpala, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.
While the Thunder, who have a massive collection of future draft picks, can certainly afford to give up a ’26 second-rounder, we’ll have to wait for their official announcement to see if there are protections on the pick or if the Heat are sending out any cash in the deal, since Okpala’s trade value is presumably limited.
The 32nd overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Stanford, Okpala has appeared in just 63 games across three seasons for Miami. In 2021/22, he has averaged 3.7 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 21 contests (11.6 MPG). Okapala hasn’t played since December due to a wrist injury. He’ll be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end.
By moving Okpala, the Heat, who had been right up against the luxury tax line, open a second spot on their 15-man roster and now should be in a comfortable position to promote Caleb Martin from his two-way contract.
Miami may wait until after Thursday’s trade deadline to make that move in order to maximize its roster and financial flexibility. But it’s a safe bet Martin will be added to the 15-man roster sooner or later. If they don’t make any other trades, the Heat could go shopping on the buyout market with their other roster opening.