Pat Riley wasted no time embarking on a roster-refurbishing project, winning a commitment from Jimmy Butler just a few hours after free agency opened last week. Josh Richardson went to Philly and Hassan Whiteside to the Portland Trailblazers for center Meyers Leonard and forward Moe Harkless, whom the Heat then flipped to the Los Angeles Clippers along with a first-round pick.
Phewww. Got all that? Good. Because apparently, that's just the beginning of Pat Riley's master plan to turn the Miami Heat back into a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference.
After days of Twitter-reporting (see: rumors circulating on the interwebs), smoke began to rise from step two of the off-season process: acquiring Washington Wizards sharpshooter Bradley Beal. But it was unclear how the Heat could get one of the hottest, youngest, and brightest guards in the game without the necessary assets.
Then came the answer: If the Heat wants a date with Beal, the team will have to gamble on John Wall and the $172 million he is owed over the next four seasons, and more importantly, his torn Achilles tendon.
Oh, well. The Heat would never do that, right? According to numerous reports midweek, that's the nuclear option on the table. And the more we think about it, the more it makes a lot of damn sense.
As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald recently reported, the idea of Miami taking Wall and Beal as a package deal — and thus assuming responsibility for what is considered one of the worst contracts in basketball — is currently being contemplated by Pat Riley and the Heat. Jackson lays it out this way:
[The] Heat has reached out to the Washington Wizards about Bradley Beal and there is sentiment internally to take on the last four years and $172 million of John Wall’s deal to facilitate a trade, according to someone with direct knowledge....But there is no indication that Washington would be willing to do that, even with Wall out for much or all of next season with a ruptured left Achilles’ tendon. Beal has said that the Wizards have assured him he won’t be traded.
Even if Washington agreed to such a scenario, Miami – with its hard cap situation — would need to send out salaries comparable to the combined $65 million that Wall and Beal would make next season. That’s possible, but a challenge. Beal has two seasons remaining on his contract.
Is paying John Wall $172 million to score Beal ideal? No. But the Heat is in a situation that requires both creativity and risk-taking. The team has Jimmy Butler in the fold for the next four seasons. He is not looking to rebuild. The time is now, not in 2021 or whenever the Heat finally has cap space to find him a running mate. This is the perfect opportunity for the Heat to grab an All-Star player and complete a potential NBA-altering reclamation project all in the same deal.
If it goes well, the Heat will be a title contender. Now. If it blows up in Riley's face, the team will have to wait the next four seasons with Butler, Beal, and Wall.
That's what I call a high-ceiling, low-risk move. That's how you quickly turn chicken shit into chicken salad.
Getting one thing out of the way is very important — Wall isn't a washed-up scrub who would be a liability. He's an all-star when right, and a potential all-NBA player when perfect. Last season — when most thought he seemed fat, unmotivated, and not himself — Wall still dropped 21 and 9 a game. He still had games of 40-14, 34-13, 36-11, and a plethora of other "average" games that would have Heat fans losing their shit if they came from Justise Winslow.
This is the guy the Heat can't fix? This is the guy who makes acquiring Beal — a potential contender for the scoring title in his prime years — a no-go? This is a risk worth taking.
The deal would require creativity and a lot of pocketbook pain. It would certainly involve giving up Justise Winslow, but maybe not Bam Adebayo. The Heat would take $172 million off the Wizards' hands, so the goods going back to Washington would pale in comparison to if the Heat just took on Beal.
A team of Wall-Beal-Butler-Bam could win an NBA championship if everything broke right — especially if rookie Tyler Herro turns out to be the reincarnation of Mike Miller he seems early in summer league.
The Heat needs to dive headfirst into the Jimmy Butler era. The time to win is now. John Wall and Bradley Beal would be the perfect fit.
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