After a wild final few hours, Miami struck a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies which has seen the Heat bring in Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, whilst saying goodbye to Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson, the latter of which has now been sent to Minnesota.
The new trio instantly installs some much needed defence for Miami with the likes of three time NBA champion Andre Iguodala and the tough and feisty Jae Crowder giving the Heat two high quality wing defenders in an area they have been lacking all season. It also gives some invaluable playoff experience to this young Miami Heat team which has seen them win just one playoff game since the 2016/17 season.
The acquisitions allow Miami to tighten up down the stretch in close games with the potential to finish with Goran Dragic, Iguodala, Jimmy Butler, Crowder and Bam Adebayo. That is a tough prospect for any team to score against and Erik Spoelstra will no doubt be buoyant at this new added doggedness and experience to call upon.
For me, what I love most about this deal, is despite losing a fans favourite in Justise Winslow, who should thrive in this new and exciting Memphis team, the Heat have effectively traded three very strong rotation players for what was probably one and half players in Winslow, Johnson and Waiters.
When fit Winslow was always going to be a strong piece in Miami’s plans. He started the season exceptionally well and it was exciting to see how good he and Jimmy Butler were going to be on that perimeter. Sadly, the concussion injury in November derailed his season and then this current persistent back injury has plagued his return since.
James Johnson did not feature until a third of the way into the season as he battled conditioning issues but had showed his worth on the rare occasions when he was called upon. Finally, Dion Waiters was not being used at all after coming under scrutiny and falling out of favour following repeated disciplinary issues.
So, Miami have traded three for one and a half! Plus, they have managed to accrue one-year worth of cap relief from these deals. Winslow, Waiters and effectively Johnson due to his 2021 player option had significant deals running through to the end of the 2021 season.
Miami have flipped all that bad money into a two year $30 million deal with Crowder and Hill on expiring contracts until the end of this season. That has to go down as yet another Pat Riley masterstroke. He has now got rid of the contracts of Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters in the space of exactly 12 months. He has officially traded the un-tradeable.
The Grizzlies will be happy enough with this trade too. They’ve got a very nice piece in Winslow who will compliment what they are trying to do in Memphis superbly.
By all accounts they are planning on buying out Dion Waiters and they have already flipped Johnson to the Timberwolves. But analysing the aforementioned, you’d have to put this down as a win for the Miami Heat. Are they better than they were before this trade? Yes, they are. Have they freed up cap space? Absolutely. The only thing stopping this trade being classified as an A* will be down to the breakdown in negotiations with OKC on what was rumoured to initially be a three-team trade which would have brought Danilo Gallinari to the Heat.
Had Miami managed to get that deal over the line it may have been a game changer. Possibly even putting them in finals contention right now. But with reports emerging that the breakdown in negotiations were down to length of contract with Gallinari wanting a 3 year deal which would have impacted Miami’s run at a max spot player in the 2021 free agency class, they correctly pulled the plug on it and thus the deal for Crowder and Hill went through with the already agreed move for Iguodala.
Will the new additions be enough to make Miami a legitimate contender this year? Jimmy Butler seems to think so! ‘We’re ready to go to war right now!’ was the rally cry from Jimmy.
Personally, I think legitimate contention is a stretch but the bigger picture is so much clearer now for this franchise. They are out of cap hell, they can pay Derrick Jones Jr this year, Bam next year and still make a run for a max player with no secrets or second guesses for who they have targeted there!
A year ago, ESPN’s Zach Lowe phrased that the Miami Heat had ‘one of the bleakest futures in the entire NBA’. Just 12 months later, the Heat now have one of the very brightest.