Wild Trade Proposal Brings $215 Milllion Bucket-Getter to the Heat

Pat Riley Jimmy Butler Conference Heat

Getty Miami Heat president Pat Riley speaks during Jimmy Butler's 2019 introductory presser.

While the Miami Heat‘s ho-hum 2022-23 campaign has caught fans and pundits alike somewhat off guard after the team finished a possession short of an NBA Finals berth last season, it hardly qualifies as a full-scale shocker.

Despite the success of 2021-22, there were clear areas of shortfall up and down the roster and virtually none of those things were addressed over the summer. Sure, Heat president Pat Riley tried his best to pull another star-grabbing maneuver out of his magic hat but those efforts proved fruitless on every front.

As Heavy Sports’ Sean Deveney sees it, though, the landscape may be more favorable for Riley and Co. once the current campaign ends than it was back then.

“They will be in better position for a bold move this summer, and it would be surprising if they did not come up with a major deal this time around,” Deveney wrote.

If they were able to make a trajectory-altering trade, though, who would be the player coming back to reverse the South Beach crew’s fortunes? Damian Lillard is the big name of the week, but there’s a chance that Miami actually has a Zach LaVine play to make instead.

Proposed Deal Makes Bulls Star Zach LaVine Miami’s New Perimeter Ace

"I've really felt like myself" – Zach LaVine has been COOKING!! 🔥 All-Access Ep. 12 | Chicago BullsFor more exclusive videos, please subscribe to our channel or visit Bulls.com —ADD US ON: INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/chicagobulls/ FACEBOOK: facebook.com/chicagobulls TWITTER: twitter.com/chicagobulls SNAPCHAT: snapchat.com/add/chicagobulls LINKEDIN: linkedin.com/company/chicago-bulls2023-03-22T16:31:03Z

As reported by HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, the Heat are a team that could be ready to pounce on the Chicago Bulls‘ cornerstone in the event that the middling club opts for a significant reboot.

“…Rival executives are keeping an eye on several teams who could have interest in trading for [LaVine], including the New York KnicksLos Angeles LakersDallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat,” Scotto on the January 5 episode of the Hoops Hype Podcast.

Assuming LaVine actually becomes available, this might be the kind of offer that the Heat and the Bulls look at:

  • Chicago Bulls receive G Tyler Herro, G/F Duncan Robinson, an unprotected first-round pick in 2023, an unprotected first-round pick in 2027 and a second-round pick in 2026 (via via OKC, DAL or PHI)
  • Miami Heat receive G Zach LaVine

For a Heat team that currently ranks just 25th offensively (scoring 111.6 points per 100 possessions) and 27th in three-point shooting (34.1%), LaVine’s inside-outside game could be transformative. In 72 games this season, the two-time All-Star is averaging 25.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per contest while shooting 38.2% from deep and just under 70% on attempts within three feet of the hoop.

Meanwhile, LaVine’s $215 million deal notwithstanding, such a trade would actually free up some funds in the short term, assuming that Robinson’s roster spot is ultimately filled by a minimum-contract signing. But since you’re replacing non-rotation player at this point, that’s not much of a stretch.

That said, the deal isn’t a clear-cut home-run smack.

Zach LaVine’s Troublesome Knee & Shortcomings

It’s weird to think about now given the fact that he’s put up 27.0 PPG and shot 51% from the floor since December 30 (a 42-game sample size), but there were major concerns early about LaVine’s left knee and its impact on his performance after the baller underwent offseason surgery. And knee soreness continues to be an issue with him.

There’s also this: even when healthy, LaVine has never been particularly well-regarded on the defensive end. This season, the Bulls have been 4.7 points/100 poss. better defensively when he has been on the bench. And while a suffocating Heat front may have been able to take that kind of hit in the past from a personnel standpoint, one has to wonder if that’s still the case amid the team’s surprising, post-All-Star slip on that side of the court.

You also risk seeing the younger Herro — 20.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 4.2 APG, 44/38/93 in ’22-23 — blow up in the Windy City and, eventually, outpacing LaVine at a lower pay grade.

Finally, there’s a chance that the Bulls can get more in terms of draft assets from some other team — the Knicks perhaps? — looking to pry LaVine from their clutches, and the Heat haven’t fully replenished their coffers as of yet.

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