ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh thinks the Miami Heat ought to go into a full-rebuild and “maximize its 2017 first-round draft pick” after losing Dwyane Wade this summer, which Haberstroh thinks is “for the best.”
This scenario would involve trading Goran Dragic because the Heat obviously aren’t nearly bad enough to tank properly. This is a path Haberstroh endorses.
The upside is that the team meshes together with a vision built around Dragic and Whiteside. But it could go poorly, and teams could be in the market for a point guard like Dragic, who has three years left on his contract with a player option for 2019-20.
One team to watch: the Rockets, who may be interested in a Dragic reunion to help beef up their squad. The Heat could do a sign-and-trade involving 25-year-old Donatas Motiejunas, who is a restricted free agent. Or if the Heat don’t want to take back Motiejunas’ contract, they could just opt for a package of Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and picks.
Who else would be in the market for Dragic’s services? Keep an eye on the Atlanta Hawks and New Orleans Pelicans, two teams that could use more solid options at point guard. According to league sources, the Heat have not made Dragic available yet, but that might change soon.
When Wade bolted for Chicago, the Heat took a huge hit in the public relations department. But it may have been a blessing in disguise. It hurts now, but it quickens the post-Wade era, which would have been painful under any circumstance. Rather than try to reload a playoff team every season like Mark Cuban’s Mavericks, Miami should follow the Boston Celtics’ blueprint and rebuild from scratch. The Heat organization only has to rewind to the beginning of the Wade era in 2003 to see how it should proceed.
I vehemently disagree with Haberstroh’s vision. First off, it takes years to rebuild like the Celtics and that cabinet of first-round picks they owned proved to have less value than anticipated, as they still haven’t been able to leverage them for a superstar in a trade.
These are years Pat Riley isn’t going to waste and he’s never been the type to stockpile first-rounders. His style has always been packing picks for proven stars. It’s unclear if Haberstroh’s vision of rebuilding from scratch includes moving Hassan Whiteside.
Riley’s version of a rebuild involves competing and developing while probing for blockbuster deals — either via trade or Free Agency. All of his recent moves, which have maintained the Heat’s financial flexibility, seem to indicate he’s preparing to go whale hunting again next summer but don’t be shocked if he strikes a deal during the season.
But trading Dragic? He’s a high-quality player in his prime on what already has become a value contract due to the rising cap. Would you rather have Mike Conley at $30 million a season or Dragic at $17 million?
His contract makes him a valuable core piece unless he can be unloaded for a legitimate top-10 talent like Russell Westbrook. Why not build around Dragic, Whiteside, and the Heat’s stable of rising young players in Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, and Josh Richardson? That might not be enough to contend on its own sans a massive step from Winslow but they’re merely one or two pieces away.
Let’s say the Heat did trade Dragic and eventually slid enough to land a top-ten pick or even a top-five pick next year. There’s no guarantee that player amounts to anything — the draft is a crapshoot, even at No. 1 overall. If that player does develop into something, it will take years, and years Riley isn’t going to waste.
The safe assumption is Riley will take his chances at landing another star in Free Agency or via trade because that has always been his way. There are some nice, young pieces on this roster. No reason to blow it up and tank just because the team is somewhere in the middle of the league as far as talent.
Riley doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. Stay the course.