Although some of the Miami Heat fans had hoped that Pat Riley would make a trade to shore up the team roster for a title run at the close, the Pate ultimately kept his current group intact. But that doesn’t mean he took his time.
In fact, the only move it made — while not the headline-grabbing kind — was one that had the potential to pay big dividends as soon as this summer.
Riley’s “big” move in February was to sell a prospect in the 23-year-old Okpala concentration camp to OKC in exchange for a second-round pick in 2026. However, as part of the deal, the Thunder also agreed to turn on protection A first-rounder Miami was originally supposed to be given to them this summer.
A drafting process that initially seemed focused on little more than a late second-round pick suddenly holds a lot more intrigue for the team and its fans.
According to Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley, Riley should be looking here with his regained pick at No. 27 overall.
On Sunday, Buckley released his latest piece on the NBA offseason — an analysis of what each of the league’s 30 teams will be looking for on draft night. Regarding the Heat, the Hoops writer believes Riley and company should prioritize their offensive attack, particularly in the half-court.
“The Heat has built an absolutely ferocious defense, and that offense can feel overwhelming when Tyler Herro gets it rolling and Jimmy Butler summons his Superstar form. But on cold nights from Herro and quiet nights for Butler, Miami can get a little bogged down in half-court attack,” Buckley wrote.
“If the Heat are desperate for a result, they could use more places to turn. It might be wishful thinking that they would find such a player with number 27, but we shouldn’t doubt this franchise’s ability to design the right player and drive their development.”
While Buckley’s assessment of the Heat development program is correct, the odds are up any Landing a player who can actually make a consistent contribution as a halffield goalscorer in the first year – especially as a late first-rounder – is thin to non-existent.
As such, the Heat may be better off taking a different route with their choice.
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While Heat’s cap situation makes it difficult in terms of potential trades, reacquiring a pick in 2022 at least opens things up a bit. By getting their picks back, the Heat now own both 22 and 2023 first-round picks.
So now, hypothetically, Riley could move one of those picks in a trade and still be on the right side of Stepien’s rule.
Just as a wild example, if the Heat decided to bring Christian Wood to South Beach but Houston wanted more than Duncan Robinson — or at least additional compensation for taking on his bloated contract — they now have a first-round pick in either this one year or next year to sweeten the pot.