This Thursday, the Miami Heat have an opportunity to add another face or two to that championship T-shirt you'll be buying this time next year. Anytime there's NBA wheeling and dealing, you should keep a close eye on Pat Riley. He's sneaky. He's convincing. He's handsome. And he's unpredictable.
That means when the 2017 NBA draft takes place tomorrow at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Heat, which holds the 14th overall selection in the first round, might not have to wait for 13 teams ahead of it to pick a player. Hell, Miami might not pick at all. Or it might pick four times. Or it might pick and then trade the player for an All-Star. Who knows with Riley at the helm?
Though it's impossible to predict the unpredictable, here are five reasonable surprises Riles could pull off during the NBA draft:
5. The Heat "trades" its first-round pick to the Indiana Pacers in a deal for Paul George.
The most shocking move that could come out of Thursday's NBA draft would be the Heat acquiring disgruntled Indiana All-Star Paul George. He has informed the Pacers he won't return to the team in 2018, so Indiana is definitely looking to shop him before it loses him for nothing. Riley, of course, has made a living off acquiring stars who have outgrown their current teams, so he will undoubtedly look into what a one-year rental of George would cost the Heat.
Does it make sense for the Heat to trade away a first-round pick and, say,
Likelihood: As much as you want this to be a thing, it's probably not a thing.
4. The Heat drafts Gonzaga center Zach Collins.
What do you do when the rest of the NBA is winning games via a barrage of three-point baskets? You zig when they zag and collect another seven-foot center. That's what Miami would be doing if it spent its first-round pick on Collins.
It's hard to imagine a scenario where Hassan Whiteside and another lumbering seven-footer can coexist for more than a few stretches during a game, much less as a starting unit looking to take down the high-flying, fast-paced Golden State Warriors. Adding another tall tree to the Heat's front court would definitely be an outside-the-box way of taking down NBA juggernauts, but it would be a surprise if the Heat actually went that route.
Likelihood: Probably not gonna happen, but don't forget that time when Riley wanted to draft Chris Kaman instead of Dwyane Wade.
3. The Heat trades the 14th pick to Portland for the 20th and 25th picks.
The upcoming draft is said to be one of the deepest in recent memory, so if that's the case, wouldn't it make sense for the Heat to move down six slots and grab an extra pick? For Portland, that move might make sense as well. Portland has the 15th pick, in addition to the 20th and 25th, so it might make sense for the team to want back-to-back mid-first-rounders instead of all three. NBA teams are not like NFL teams: They get to keep only 15 men, so Portland might want to move up.
Likelihood: Not impossible, but it doesn't smell like a Riley move.
2. The Heat trades up to select a player in the Top 5.
One thing Miami just doesn't have is assets. Not the kind you can trade for a superstar. Not the kind that can trade up for a top pick. Not even the kind to cash in at the grocery store for money off Publix subs. The team has depleted its stash in the past decade to make all of its recent title runs happen. They've depleted their reserves with sign-and-trades for LeBron James and Chris Bosh and for constant draft-pick trades to surround the Big Three with players (or to get rid of some and their salaries), and they traded two first-round picks to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic. The Heat is cashed out and won't be re-upped for quite some time.
All of that means the Heat isn't likely to have ammo to move up in the draft to select one of the more coveted players. Miami had its shot at that crop of guys when the team was 11-30 in the standings in the first half of last season, but a 30-11 second half means the Heat is stuck with the leftovers at number 14.
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Likelihood: Not happening, but a boy can dream.
1. The Heat trades Goran Dragic or Hassan Whiteside to clear up cap space.
Hey, we've seen crazier shit happen. The truth of the matter is that the Miami Heat probably won't win any titles while Goran Dragic is on the roster. That's not
Also, LeBron James is a free agent next offseason. Go ahead — doubt Pat Riley, and see what happens.
Likelihood: Well, LeBron James is a free agent next offseason.