Don't be alarmed by that smoke you see on the horizon — it's just the result of thousands of Miami Heat fans overworking their ESPN Trade Machines. Because it's officially nonsense season, the time of year when fans talk themselves into believing their team can find a trade partner thirsty to accept their junk. The NBA trade deadline makes for great water cooler talk, but rarely does anyone pull off anything meaningful.
But when they do, ohhhhh, is it exciting. It's life-altering. It's a-new-Nintendo-game-on-Christmas-morning-type stuff.
Here's what Heat fans can expect:
So what will the Heat do at the trade deadline?
Not much. Probably not much at all. It takes two to tango, and for various reasons, there is an issue with trading almost any player on the Heat's roster. Money plays a huge part in NBA trades. Part of the price for the fantastic Big Three era is that the Heat finds itself up against the luxury tax, so adding more salary than the team gives out isn't very realistic. The Heat is currently above the luxury tax, so it's more likely that the team looks to dump a player like Birdman for nothing to get under the limit.
Outside the untouchable assets, there just isn't much to bargain with on this roster.
When another team calls, who will be untouchable on the Heat roster?
Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Chris Bosh, and Justise Winslow aren't going anywhere. It would take a franchise-altering deal to pry any of those players from Miami. Haslem is the one who sticks out here, but do yourself a favor and come to terms with the fact that the Heat will never trade him. Hashtag Heat lifer.
Then who is "touchable"?
You just made it sound weird, but, yes, pretty much everyone not untouchable is indeed touchable. There isn't much in between. If the L.A. Lakers pick up the phone and desperately want Beno Udrih, the Miami Heat will have another tribute video to make.
And what would the Heat ask for in return?
Shooting. So much shooting. Miami is in desperate need of someone who can make a damn three-pointer. Can you make a three-pointer? If so, the team might have a ten-day contract with your name on it. The Heat has ranked toward the bottom of the NBA in all statistics related to three-point shooting this year — which is pretty bad timing — because the NBA has moved toward becoming a three-point-shooting league.
I've heard people talking about how Hassan Whiteside isn't great for the team. Is there a realistic trade to be made involving him?
Yes and no. ESPN's Tom Haberstroh lobbed out this potential deal in which the Heat would send Luol Deng and Whiteside to the Pelicans for stretch-forward Ryan Anderson — and that's not a terrible idea. Everyone involved in the deal will be a free agent this summer, so no one would be handcuffing themselves in free agency. The Pelicans would be renting Whiteside purely to sell him on staying and playing alongside Anthony Davis. It would be like the Miami Hurricanes getting to try out a recruit for three games before he had to commit. Only this recruit would eventually cost more than a hundred million bucks. The Heat would get its coveted shooter in Anderson but lose Deng — which would make it counterproductive because he's a plus defender.
What about a huge star-studded trade? Any chance of that happening?
Never doubt Pat Riley, but it seems unlikely. Any realistic deal for a superstar, like Carmelo Anthony, would no doubt start with the Heat giving up Justise Winslow and Chris Bosh, and that ain't happening — unless it's for LeBron James. Then the Heat would do anything. Because we really miss him. That was fun.
What player would the Heat like to trade most at the deadline?
Definitely Birdman, who has played in only seven games and is making $5 million. Factor in luxury tax penalties, and the Heat is paying more than $10 million for a guy it never uses. The team would be more than happy to dump Birdman for a heavily protected second-round pick or a 47-year-old European point guard, sight unseen.
What has been the craziest trade scenario anyone has thrown out there that includes the Miami Heat?
Steven A. Smith mentioned the Heat could trade Chris Bosh and Justise Winslow to the Clippers for Blake Griffin. Big, fat nope on that one. Smith apparently thinks it's your mom's turn to run the Miami Heat fantasy team.
This isn't sounding as exciting as I'd anticipated. Is there any way the Heat can get better, fast?
Any team that has zero in assets — like the Heat — can look to scoop up a player who has reached an agreement on a buyout with his former team. This year, the biggest prize of the buyout cycle looks to be Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets. Ethan J. Skolnick of the Miami Herald thinks the Heat would be interested. Johnson would have his pick of contenders, so it's no slam dunk that he would choose to join the Heat.
This is really depressing. Give me something to cheer me up.
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The Heat is getting healthy, so it feels like the team traded for a bunch of new guys who don't suck. The non-sucking has the Heat all the way back up toward the top of the East, so that's cool.
That actually helped. Anything else I should know about potential trade deadline bombshells?
Follow Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (@WojVerticalNBA) because he knows who has been traded before the players themselves do. Expect little to no movement when it comes to big stars this year, but it wouldn't be surprising to see a team like the Chicago Bulls pull the plug on this year's team in an effort to stock up on assets and picks going forward. With the salary cap skyrocketing this offseason, expect to see very few teams making deals for players signed to contracts beyond this year.