Pat Riley is fishing for a whale with his hands tied behind his back. Just imagine Riley strapped to a fishing chair, grasping a fishing rod between his toes, and trying to hook the biggest fish in the sea. Those are essentially the odds the Miami Heat president is faced with today if he's to acquire a big-time NBA player before Thursday's trade deadline.
The Heat is depleted of attractive trade assets. Contrary to what the Sacramento Kings' lopsided trade of DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans would lead you to believe, you do actually need to give something up to get something in an NBA trade.
So what do you do when your future doesn't seem all that exciting? You rehash the past. You go full Al Bundy four touchdowns at Polk High. You talk about all the amazing trades Pat Riely has made in the past as Lord Everything Basketball with the Miami Heat. Let's revisit five whales he actually did lure to South Florida.
1. The 2004 deal for Shaquille O'Neal.
In 2004, Riley was going on ten years with Miami. The Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway years were in the past. The
So Riley went out and got the biggest piece.
Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, and the number 26 pick in the 2006 draft — that's what it took to pry Shaquille O'Neal from Los Angeles. That package seemed like a lot at the time. It proved to be worth every piece. A 2006 banner hangs in the American Airlines Arena to prove that point.
2. Glen Rice for Alonzo Mourning in 1995.
Some might argue that the Heat's trading Alonzo Mourning from the Charlotte Hornets for Glen Rice, Khalid Reeves, Matt Geiger, and the number 16 pick in the 1996 draft was the most important transaction in team history. The move gave Miami credibility and created the foundation for everything else that has followed. Many fans were torn about the deal because the Heat was giving up its first true All-Star
But the deal ended up being a massive success for Riley. Zo, of course, is still a key part of the franchise.
3. The biggest trade in NBA history.
In 2005, the Heat was sick and tired of being sick and tired. Every high in franchise history until that point had ended with a crushing defeat to the New York Knicks. Miami had made a huge splash in acquiring Shaq the previous season, but Riley needed to add pieces to surround the big man. Riley and the Heat did that, and then some, pulling off the biggest trade in NBA history in terms of the number of players moved. In the end, the deal involved five teams and 13 players.
The Heat ended up acquiring Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, and James Posey, while the Grizzlies received guard Eddie Jones from the Heat, and New Orleans took Rasual Butler. The deal formed the backbone of the Heat's 2006 championship roster.
4. Tim Hardaway's arrival for almost nothing.
The deal: Golden State Warriors got Bimbo Coles and Kevin Willis, while the Heat got Tim Hardaway and Chris Gatling. Boom. Fleecing. This deal is surprisingly not mentioned as often as it should be among Riley's greatest moves, but it was critical to the growth of the Heat franchise. The 1996 deal paired Timmy with Zo, making the Heat a perennial Eastern Conference bully.
Without Hardaway, the Heat might have never reached those memorable playoff series with the Knicks. Even with all the heartbreak that came with many of those series losses, it's hard to imagine being a Heat fan without having lived through them.
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5. The 2015 Goran Dragic deal.
We've come full circle. Why does the Heat have no assets? Well, in part because the team traded two first-round picks to Phoenix for Goran Dragic. Whom else did the Heat trade to snag one of the best point guards in the league? Almost nobody else. Like, nobody. Nadie. Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Danny Granger, and Justin Hamilton.
Like I said, the Heat traded two first-round picks for Goran Dragic, and that's about it.
The Heat have yet to pay up on this deal. If they are anything close to what they envision themselves by the time the Suns come to collect their first first-round pick, the selection is likely to be nothing special. The worst part about this deal is the Heat not having the picks, not what the team will be worth in the end. Regardless, it's tough to envision acquiring a top point guard for much less than the price Riley paid for Dragic two seasons ago.