Heat Would ‘Love’ to get a Hold of Key Celtic in Trade

Erik Spoelstra Miami Heat

Getty Head coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat.

Things sank to a new low for the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. With a chance to go 17-15 and move to the No. 7 seed in the East on the line, the Heat went out and laid a dud against 2022’s trade season darling Chicago Bulls.

After coughing up 74 points to the Zach LaVine-DeMar DeRozan-Nikola Vucevic trio, the Heat look like a mess on both ends of the floor. One player won’t solve all of the problems, but Miami could absolutely use a two-way player right now. And according to Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports, one player the Heat are enamored by plays for the rival Boston Celtics.

“The Heat would love to get a hold of Grant Williams,” an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney. “But you know what? We all would. He is absolutely their kind of player, a tough and annoying and relentless defender who can also shoot. So, mutual interest, sure. Who would not want to go play for Erik Spoelstra on South Beach?

Maybe the Heat can’t nab Williams ahead of this winter’s trade deadline, but why not lure the free agent from the frosty Boston winter with the warm South Beach breeze as a free agent in the summer? According to the same executive, it would be quite that easy.

‘Almost Impossible’ For Heat to Sign Williams This Summer

Looking ahead to next season, the Miami Heat project to be well into the league’s luxury tax. Assuming Victor Oladipo opts into his $9.45 million player option and Jimmy Butler and the Heat work out an extension (likely in the $45 million per year range, per Spotrac), the Heat will have some $177 million on the books.

Some of those contracts, like Haywood Highsmith and Dewayne Dedmon’s, are non-guaranteed, but those contracts combined come out to less than $6.5 million. 

All of this to say, the purse strings will already be tight for Miami when the summer rolls around, making it even harder to sign someone like Grant Williams.

“[T]he Celtics are not trading him and when the summer comes, the Heat won’t have the money to sign him. They can have all the interest they want, it is almost impossible for them to bring Williams in.”

In a report from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype back in October, Williams is looking for a deal in the $14-$15 million per year range. The Celtics will have the first bite at the apple since Williams is heading for restricted free agency. That means Boston can match any external offer for Williams or pass. The only danger for Boston is a team like the San Antonio Spurs, who are flush with cash, coming in and offering Williams a boatload of money, an amount the Celtics simply couldn’t match.

But, Miami does have plenty of experience luring away players from rivals in the Eastern Conference via sign-and-trade, which could be a path to Williams.

Could the Heat Pull Off a Sign-And-Trade for Williams?

Williams isn’t the only integral player on his team that the Miami Heat have been sniffing around in recent memory. Back in the summer of 2019, then-free agent Jimmy Butler was assumed to return to the Philadelphia 76ers after joining that season and nearly defeating the eventual Finals champ Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

And then Miami stepped in. The Heat convinced Butler to sign with them, forcing the Sixers into a sign-and-trade so that Philly wouldn’t lose Butler for naught.

Could the same happen next summer? Possibly, but it won’t be quite as straightforward this time around. In 2019, the Heat were still emerging from the post-Heatles era, with nary a single player signed for more than $15 million guaranteed. This allowed the Heat to force Philadelphia’s hand — the team could simply sign Butler outright without dipping into the luxury tax.

Next summer, however, Miami will already be in the luxury tax. So whatever leverage the team had from that perspective in 2019 is seriously lessened this time around. But what if Williams decides he wants to move on? Would Boston reconsider its stance in that case? It’s still a longshot, but then again, there’s a reason Butler is in the burgundy and black today instead of red, white, and blue.

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