Draft night just a precursor to July 1 to Heat
Always looking for draft-night trades, the Miami Heat decided to get dealing early this year.
And a team already poised to make a huge splash when the NBA free-agent superstore opens next week just freed up around $3 million in extra spending cash.
The Heat traded shooting guard Daequan Cook and the No. 18 pick on Wednesday to the Oklahoma City Thunder, in exchange for the No. 32 selection. It clears not only Cook's $2.2 million salary for next season from Miami's books, but also removes the $1.2 million the Heat had to budget for the first-round pick.
More dealing is likely, especially with the Heat still looking to clear more cap space for next season to not only keep Dwyane Wade, who will opt out of his contract next week and become a free agent July 1, but add some All-Star talent around him, like LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh - or, possibly, even two players of that ilk.
So unless Miami makes a trade to move up, which seems unlikely, it's clear that to the Heat, free agency has absolutely trumped the significance of the draft.
``We as an organization and we as a city, I think that's probably true,'' Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer said earlier this week.
Miami still has four small chips to play Thursday night - the No. 32, 41, 42 and 48 picks.
As of Wednesday night, Miami had only two players locked into contracts for 2010-11, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers, due to make about $6 million combined. The team will decide whether or not to keep James Jones by July 1, and it seems likely that Joel Anthony will opt out and therefore not ensure a spot in Miami next season.
So draft night still has intrigue, but more from the swapping instead of selecting standpoint.
``I wish the two events were flipped,'' Kammerer said. ``I wish we could have free agency first, see how that works out, and then have the draft and try to fill in the gaps. But it doesn't work that way. I think we focus our attention on the players that are available to us, get them in correct order, guys that we liked and go from there.''
Clearing salary cap space simply means that Miami is stockpiling its cash to spend this summer. Wade will get offered a six-year deal worth around $127 million, and he's virtually a lock to accept. And that still leaves Miami plenty of money to throw around - the Heat are one of the teams who will be at the forefront of what's expected to be a July 1 spending spree.
In a statement Wednesday night, Heat president Pat Riley said the team wished Cook success in Oklahoma City.
``We are continuing with what we set out to do the day we decided to rebuild the team. That is to put together the best team possible, and sometimes that process requires addition by subtraction,'' Riley said.
Kammerer said the Heat ``really like'' 15 players in the draft. Chances are, they'll be gone by No. 32, so some of those second-rounders almost seem certain to be traded.
``I would be surprised if we use all three of those draft picks for players this year,'' Kammerer said. ``If we can package them to get a better player, or if we feel like we don't have a second-rounder next year and we can defer one, then I think that's a strong possibility. But at this point ... we don't really know how the chips are going to fall.''
They never do. Especially in 2003.
That year, when the Heat held the No. 5 pick, they had plenty of needs. Shooting guard wasn't one of them. Big man and point guard were the priorities, but when their turn came around, the Heat surprised more than a few people around the NBA by choosing Wade.
It only turned out to be the smartest move in Heat history. Wade led Miami to the NBA title in 2006, has cemented himself as one of the very best players on the planet, and now could be on the cusp of a signing a deal worth more than $125 million - the biggest priority the Heat have this summer.
So yes, July 1 is the big day for the Heat.
And that was never more clear than Wednesday.
``There's always a few surprises,'' Kammerer said.