South Beach has always been a prime destination for free agents or players looking to force their way onto a new team – as has the Miami Heat culture.
The Heat are widely considered to be one of the better run franchises in the league and consistently find themselves in contention for championships. Miami comes to play every night, and has the respect of every team in the NBA, of course, their rich heritage doesn’t hurt either.
With that rich heritage, the Heat have a long list of esteemed alumni, and sometimes that can be a driving factor in acquiring new talent, especially of the star variety. Perhaps that’s why Dwyane Wade has been cited as a potential swing factor in the Miami Heat’s chances of landing Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell in the offseason.
“The Heat have been cited as a potential Mitchell destination. The Heat have more assets to offer than the Knicks do, and it figures Wade wouldn’t mind doing business with his beloved former franchise,” Marc Berman wrote for the New York Post.
Donovan is rumored to be disillusioned with the Jazz, and if they fail to make it to the conference finals this year, he is widely expected to begin exploring his options away from Utah. Wade’s status as a Miami legend and his new role as part-owner of the Jazz could be enough to help grease the wheels of any potential trade between the two teams.
Mitchell Would Usher a New Generation in Miami
Jimmy Butler, 32, and Kyle Lowry, 36, are both exceptionally gifted players, but with their advancing years, they’re not on the same timeline as Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro – the Heat’s best young talent.
Mitchell, 25, fits the timeline of the Heat’s younger contingent of players, and would quickly allow Miami to build a young, vibrant future big three. Of course, the Jazz would be expecting a haul in return for their star scorer, so the Heat would need to get creative to keep both Adebayo and Herro in town.
Miami would also benefit from Mitchell’s ability to operate as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll scenarios, which would quickly give the Heat a fearsome two-man game on the perimeter. According to Instat’s tracking data, 44% of Mitchell’s offense comes as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, with him scoring a total of 784 points in 725 possessions, which NBA Stats has listed as the 87th percentile amongst guards.
Mitchell is also gifted as an off-ball scorer allowing him to hurt teams as a catch-and-shoot threat, or off the rip through when getting downhill to pressure the rim. With Butler and Lowry approaching the end of their careers, adding an elite scorer who is still a few years outside of his prime is an ideal scenario for the Heat’s front office.
Is Mitchell Ready to Move Teams
There’s been a lot of rhetoric surrounding Mitchell and Rudy Gobert over the last 18 months, dating back to before the NBA bubble. Shortly after the NBA suspended play, reports surfaced that Mitchell was unhappy with his teammates handling of the pandemic, especially during one press conference where he made contact with multiple microphones after answering questions.
But, while that incident is likely water under the bridge at that point, the Jazz as a unit have never truly recovered. And now, after another disappointing end to the regular season, Mitchell is starting to cut a frustrated figure.
“I don’t know what to say. This is the same s**t. This is literally the same thing as last year. I don’t know, I don’t have anything for you right now,” Mitchell told reporters after the Jazz surrendered a 25-point lead to the Los Angeles Clippers on March 30.
As Berman pointed out in his article, “The Jazz were eliminated in the second round by the Clippers last spring after blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the decisive Game 6.”
With a repeat performance coming less than a year after their capitulation, it’s fair to assume Mitchell doesn’t envision the situation in Utah changing unless the roster undergoes drastic changes in the off-season. The question is, does Mitchell envision himself as one of those changes, or the player those changes build around for the future? How the Jazz performs in the upcoming post-season will probably help make the Lousiville native’s decision.