But not so fast, Miami Heat fans: We aren't invited. Our invitation is someone else's plus-one, thanks to trades that sent this year's selections to other teams.
It was bound to happen. The Heat's wheelin' and dealin' had to catch up to the club at some point, and this NBA draft seems to be that point. Thanks to prior trades, the Heat doesn't have a first- or second-round selection in the draft. That doesn't mean the team won't acquire a selection during the draft, but as of now, they aren't scheduled to participate.
The short answer to the question of why Miami won't be participating on Thursday night is, well, LeBron James. The fact that both selections were traded away is a direct result of his arrival and departure. One to recover, and one to break away a piece of the team that, without him, wasn't worth the price tag any longer.
So what happened to the Heat's picks? Let's take a look.
The Heat’s 2021 first-round pick was originally part of the 2015 trade with the Phoenix Suns that brought Goran Dragić to Miami. Subsequent deals have seen that pick make it all the way to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which pretty much owns every first-round pick moving forward in perpetuity.
NOW it's #heatnation time and I'm excited to bring the Dragon's fire to Miami!!— Goran Dragić (@Goran_Dragic) February 19, 2015
At the time of that deal, Miami was looking to pair Dragić with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in what would have been a quick recovery from the breakup of the "Big 3" after LeBron James departed the year prior. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Bosh had a blood-clot issue hours after the deal was sealed, which led to him being out for the season and, eventually, retiring from basketball altogether.
Ironically, Miami could be finishing paying the bill for acquiring Dragić just as he walks out the door. The team is unlikely to pick up his option — worth over $20 million — and it's very possible he signs with another team in free agency.
Birdman-Roberts trade shaves another $2 million-plus in salary from Heat payroll, as Heat work to get under tax.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) February 16, 2016
Trading Chris Andersen and absorbing Brian Roberts in a three-team deal has taken Heat from $14.3 million in owed luxury tax to $8.8 million— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 16, 2016
The math on where Miami's second-round pick went is a little more complicated, but in the end, also the result of LeBron James' departure. In order to get under the salary cap's luxury-tax line, Miami had to trade Chris "Birdman" Andersen to Memphis for Brian Roberts — whom they quickly sent, along with this year's second-round pick, to Portland.
MIami has traded guard Brian Roberts and a second-round pick to Portland, league source tells @TheVertical— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 18, 2016
All Miami got, in the end, was tax savings. Nobody bought a tax-savings jersey. Weird.
So, there you have it. The price of building a superteam and attempting to recover from its untimely breakup is not being invited to the 2021 NBA draft.
There's more than $5 million available to the Heat if they'd like to buy a ticket to the second-round-pick party. We'll have to wait and see whether any of those tax savings go to good use.