Although some among the Miami Heat faithful had hoped that Pat Riley would swing a trade to shore up the team’s roster for a title run at the trade deadline, the Godfather ultimately kept his current group intact. That’s not to say that he took the deadline off, though.
In fact, the one move that he did make — while not of the headline-grabbing variety — was one with the potential to pay big-time dividends as early as this summer.
Riley’s “big” February move was to deal a prospect in 23-year-old KZ Okpala to OKC in exchange for a second-round pick in 2026. However, as part of the deal, the Thunder also agreed to switch up the protections on a first-rounder Miami was originally set to convey to them this summer.
So, a draft process that originally appeared to be 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, this is where Riley should look with his reacquired selection at No. 27 overall.
B/R: Heat Need ‘Half-Court Scorer’
On Sunday, Buckley dropped 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. Where the Heat are concerned, the hoops scribe believes Riley and Co. should prioritize their offensive attack, specifically in the half-court.
“The Heat have constructed an absolutely ferocious defense, and this offense can feel overwhelming when Tyler Herro has it rolling and Jimmy Butler summons his superstar form. But on cold nights from Herro and quiet ones for Butler, Miami can get a bit bogged down in the half-court attack,” Buckley wrote.
“When the Heat are desperate for a score, they could use more places to turn. Maybe it’s wishful thinking to expect them to find such a player with the No. 27 pick, but we shouldn’t doubt this franchise’s ability to draft the right player and ace their development.”
Although Buckley’s assessment of the Heat developmental program rings true, the chances of any team landing a player who can actually contribute consistently as a half-court scorer in year one — particularly as a late first-rounder — are slim to none.
As such, the Heat may just be better off going another route with their pick.
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
Getting the Pick Has Opened Up Some Trade Options
While the Heat’s cap situation makes it difficult where potential trades are concerned, the reacquisition of a pick in 2022 opens things up at least a little bit. By getting their selection back, the Heat now own first-round picks in ’22 as well as 2023.
So, hypothetically, Riley could now move one of those picks in a trade and still be on the right side of the Stepien Rule.
Just as a wild example, if the Heat decided they were all-in on bringing Christian Wood to South Beach, but Houston wanted more than Duncan Robinson — or at least some additional compensation for taking on his bloated contract — they now have a first-round pick either this year or next to help sweeten the pot.