Halfcourt offense has been an issue for the Miami Heat throughout the post-season, especially in the games Kyle Lowry has missed due to injury.
Now, in the Eastern Conference finals, the Heat face a Boston Celtics team who loves to slow teams down and force them out of rhythm, a style that could be Miami’s undoing if Lowry doesn’t return to the rotation in the coming days.
Regardless of what happens in the remainder of the playoffs, the Heat’s biggest weakness is apparent, and we can expect Pat Riley and the front office to address it at the earliest opportunity. Put bluntly, Miami needs a halfcourt scorer that can initiate an offense and create shots for themselves and others.
Luckily, it would seem that a player with that exact skillset is casting flirtatious glances toward South Beach, and if the rumors are to be believed, he is interested in making a move if the possibility arises. That player is the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, who is rumored to be interested in a fresh start after another post-season collapse for the Jazz.
“Almost every team in the league would show trade interest in Mitchell if he was to request a trade out of Utah, but the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks are two other teams besides the Knicks that Mitchell would have interest in, sources familiar with the Jazz guard noted.
Pat Riley’s success throughout the years in Miami’s front office and the Heat already having proven All-Stars on their roster makes them an attractive destination,” Brett Siegel of Sports Illustrated wrote in a recent article.
What Would Mitchell Bring to Miami
Since entering the league, Mitchell has become one of the better scorers the NBA has to offer and has consistently improved in his ability to create shots for himself off the dribble while also using his scoring gravity to generate quality looks for his teammates.
Over the last two seasons, Mitchell has been responsible for 26.6% of his teammate’s made shots while on the floor, placing him in the 83rd percentile among combo-guards. However, his playmaking is still in development as he turns the ball over 11% of the time.
Still, at 25-years-old, Mitchell is a proven three-level scorer who can finish at an above-average clip from every major scoring area. Pairing an elite scorer like Mitchell with a complete wing such as Jimmy Butler and an elite big-man in Bam Adebayo, the Heat would rapidly rise to the top of the Eastern Conference and become clear-cut championship favorites for the coming years.
Of course, as with any player who joins Miami, Mitchell would need to improve his defense, as the Jazz has been +4.6 points per 100 possession better on the defensive end when Mitchell has gone to the bench and was +5.5 points better throughout the 2020-21 NBA season – which says a lot considering Mitchell often shares the floor with defensive juggernaut Rudy Gobert.
Would Miami be Interested?
When looking at the Heat’s current roster, it’s clear a consolidation trade is potentially on the cards due to Miami’s amount of young talent and the limiting playing time afforded to some of those players. There’s also the issue of Duncan Robinson’s downward trend and the rise of Max Strus in his place.
So, this deal would make perfect sense in terms of adding elite talent while consolidating the rotation. Mitchell also has another three years remaining on his $163 million contract, with an extra year as a player option, meaning the Heat would get a star player under multiple years of control – which is always favorable.
Of course, just because Mitchell wants out and the Heat would be interested doesn’t mean the Jazz would be willing to play ball. With the New York Knicks also listed as an interested party, Miami would also face competition in any bidding war. Still, with players like Robinson and perhaps even Tyler Herro to dangle as trade bait, it’s safe to assume the Heat could win any auction they entered.
Unless Mitchell hands in a trade request, the Heat, or any other interested party, are going to a difficult time prising the Jazz’s star player away from Salt Lake City, no matter how many rumors surface about his willingness to start fresh in a new city with a new franchise.