It is not yet Thanksgiving, a bit early to be starting in on Miami Heat trade rumors, and yet, the promising start from the team’s star players and obvious holes on the rest of the roster have potential NBA deals percolating. And while the presumption around the league has been that the Heat will swing for a major trade at some point, the reality is they’re more likely to stick with their current stars and upgrade the role players.
That’s where one of the league’s top role players could give Heat trade rumors some winter fuel. Bulls guard Alex Caruso is not yet on the trade market, but he is already generating some buzz as a player Chicago could shop as it looks to retool away from its veterans and move toward its young players.
And Caruso would help a lot of what ails the Heat. The backcourt is a disaster with Tyler Herro now out because of an injury and veteran Josh Richardson appearing to be in over his head. Caruso plays with the energy and passion that coach Erik Spoelstra likes, and can play either guard spot.
“They need a guard in the worst way,” one Eastern Conference executive said. “They’re not out there beating the bushes for a trade or anything, that is not how they operate. They’re going to say they like Josh and they like Dru Smith, and all of that. But they’ve got to be concerned and if the Bulls let it be known that Alex Caruso can be traded, they’d have to be the first in line. He is an Erik Spoelstra kind of guy all the way. They have an eye on him, for sure. We all do.”
Heat Trade Rumors Tempered by Salary Structure
One of the problems with any Miami Heat trade rumor this season, though, is the way the team’s salaries are structured. The Top 4 players all earn more than $27 million—Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro. Duncan Robinson earns $18 million, and after that, the Heat have Caleb Martin ($6.8 million) and eight players on near-minimum deals worth less than $4 million.
That makes matching salaries with Caruso ($9.5 million) difficult. Martin would be the easiest path, but he is a key member of the Heat and Miami is not looking to move him. The Heat could piece together smaller contracts once December 15 hits (that is when recently signed players can be traded), but that is tricky, too.
If they packaged, say, Richardson, Orlando Robinson and 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, plus a future first-round pick, they’d be taking on $2.4 million in salary, and for a team with a $180 million payroll, that would move them perilously close to the $182.7 million luxury tax “second apron.”
It would probably take a third team getting involved (the Bulls wouldn’t want a three-for-one deal). But it would be a tough needle to thread.
Alex Caruso Will Be ‘Coveted’
And Caruso will be a sought-after commodity should he be traded. He is a proven winner (he helped the Lakers to the bubble championship) and a role player who can lead with hustle and defense, contributions far more valuable than the 6.0 points on 43.0% shooting he has put in for his career.
A crowded market would, of course, make it difficult for such Heat trade rumors to move forward. But he figures to be a name on the Heat trade rumor mill.
“Coveted is a good word for him. If you want to make a trade tomorrow they could trade Alex Caruso,” the executive told Heavy Sports. “Half the teams in the league would be there with an offer. There’s a lot of teams monitoring that situation and they’re looking at Caruso more than anyone on that roster. Just a matter of when the Bulls are ready to make changes and ready to let him go.”