Heat Named Top Spot for Breakout Big Man on Expiring $9.1M Salary

Mason Plumlee

Getty Mason Plumlee of the Charlotte Hornets could be a buyout candidate for the Miami Heat.

The Miami Heat are fresh from trading center Dewayne Dedmon to the San Antonio Spurs, and now they could use another big man.

As first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Heat are shipping Dedmon and a second-round pick to the Spurs, leaving a void on their roster. Enter Charlotte Hornets center Mason Plumlee.

The veteran big turns 33 in March, but he’s having a breakout season of sorts with the Hornets. Plumlee is averaging 12.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 28.5 minutes a game, and all are career highs (numbers courtesy of Basketball Reference). He might be able to be had for a reasonable price, too. He’s due $9.2 million this year, some of which may be paid by the Hornets if they want to part ways with him.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report called Plumlee “an obvious buyout candidate,” and he’s also a trade candidate for Miami before the deadline on March 9 at 3p.m. Eastern.

Plumlee Could Be Solid Addition for Heat Heading Into Playoffs

While Plumlee isn’t going to light teams up night after night, he’s a solid veteran who possesses both court savvy and playoff experience. The journeyman center has been in the postseason five times: with the Brooklyn Nets in 2014 and 2015, with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2016 and with the Denver Nuggets in 2019 and 2020, playing 60 playoff games in total.

“He’s not going to dominate the postseason, but he could be a very useful addition with playoff experience,” Pincus wrote on February 6, before listing the Heat among his top landing spots. “A long list of teams needing a veteran backup big could include the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Clippers, Lakers and Heat.”

For his part, Plumlee says he has heard the trade buzz, and says it barely registers anymore.

“It’s not even tough for me anymore,” Plumlee said about trade speculation, via The Charlotte Observer. “I’ve loved my time here, this year especially. … If they want to move on, that’s a business decision. But it’s not really tough by the time you get to this point in your career.”

What Does This Mean for Rookie Center Orlando Robinson?

Plumlee has started 55 games for the Hornets, but he would have to take a reserve role in Miami behind All-Star Bam Adebayo — and the two could make quite the pair. Adebayo is netting 21.5 points and 10.0 rebounds, his second straight season averaging a double-double.

So, what about rookie center Orlando Robinson?

“Among the Heat’s options with the opened roster space is converting the two-way contract of undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson to a standard deal, making him eligible to not only appear in each remaining games of the regular season, but also eligible for the playoffs,” Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote on February 7. “The Heat then could utilize the remaining space gained under the luxury tax as part of another trade by Thursday’s deadline, or in the buyout market.”

Still, Robinson has zero playoff experience, and if Miami is lucky, Plumlee might be available soon. If he is, the Heat should pounce, as it’s clear they’re trying to make a push.

“What I see as the head coach right now in this league, in particular the Eastern Conference, I see great opportunity,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Whichever teams can figure it out these next two months can really get ready in the right way for the playoffs.”

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