Do not proceed if you’re an in-the-box Miami Heat fan because I guarantee you’ll think this plan is stupid.
This is purely for the dreamers out there, those who aren’t afraid to get a little weird.
In wake of Phil Jackson officially denouncing the return of Carmelo Anthony, the fantasy GM from within started envisioning scenarios how acquiring Carmelo would make the Heat a better basketball team, one better suited to contend.
While Anthony has his worts, he’s the perfect buy-low player considering the Knicks have absolutely no leverage in a trade. Anthony is making $26 million next season, has a no-trade clause, and a 15-percent trade kicker. If Phil is wise, which remains highly questionable, he’ll dump him as soon as possible and rebuild around Kristaps Porziņģis.
Initially I was extremely hesitant in acquiring Melo as anything but a backup backup backup plan. Why? I think his best use going forward is as a stretch 4, touching the ball less often and becoming more of a spot-up shooter. If the Heat re-signs James Johnson, something they clearly want to do considering he’s a two-way basketball god, there wouldn’t be many minutes available for Melo at the 4.
Considering Hassan Whiteside would be eating up around 33 minutes at center, another position playable by Johnson because basketball gods play multiple positions, it’d make rotations tricky.
But what if — here’s where we begin to dip our toes in the weird — Whiteside was no longer in the picture, clearing extensive minutes for Johnson at the 5? What if Phil in true Phil-like fashion decides while the rest of the league goes small he shall go big, REALLY BIG, while continuing to shove his triangle offense down Jeff Hornacek’s throat?
1. Miami trades Whiteside to the Knicks on draft night for Anthony and New York’s first-round pick (currently slotted at No. 7). They also toss in the $6 million mannequin of Josh McRoberts as added value to help mitigate Melo’s 15-percent trade kicker.
Note: The next-year salary of Carmelo factoring in the trade kicker against that of Whiteside and McRoberts is about a wash.
Phil would probably die from endless orgasms thinking about how his trio of bigs in Whiteside, Porzingis, and the remains of Joakim Noah would super-triangle the hell out of the league next year.
An important component to this deal: Miami would have two Top 14 picks this year and about the same $40 million (rough estimate) in cap space after Chris Bosh’s contract is expunged.
2. Miami signs Gordon Hayward in Free Agency
There have already been “whispers” of Hayward’s interest in the Heat if he doesn’t re-sign with Utah. Gordon, if you’re reading this, please check out this deep-dive comparing Utah and Miami in the form of a Twitter thread. It will simplify everything for you and your family.
If Hayward’s primary goal is to contend for a title, he needs to get the hell out of the West and away from the Warriors, Spurs, Rockets, and Clippers — four teams way more equipped than the Jazz.
If Hayward leaves Utah, he’ll able to sign a first-year maximum salary of $31 million but because of Florida’s lack of state income tax, his desire to contend, and this little thing called Miami Heat C-U-L-T-U-R-E, he will accept a deal starting at around $25 million.
It’s a ton of money for a great player but one who doesn’t have the same perceived value as fellow All-Star wings like Paul George and Jimmy Butler. Why? In part because Gordon is a pasty white dude playing in Utah who entered the league with a middle-school haircut.
The money left on the table will help pay…
3. James Magic Johnson!
The Heat sign Johnson to a deal starting around $15 million, even though he could probably command $20 million, because he’s a winner, the Heat helped turned his career around, and — you guessed it — Miami Heat C-U-L-T-U-R-E.
To recap, here’s how Miami’s roster would look in this bizarro theoretical universe (B is for Big, W is for Wing, P is for Point):
B: James Johnson
B: Carmelo Anthony
W: Gordon Hayward
W: Josh Richardson
P: Goran Dragic
Toss in Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow, Rodney McGruder, and the Heat’s two first-round rookies off the bench, and that’s an Eastern Conference contender with room for growth.
Miami would have to resort to some wildly unconventional lineups but that sort of thing definitely gets Spo’s juices flowing. After all, playing Bosh at center during the LeBron Era helped pave the way for this era of basketball.
Now some might prefer re-signing Johnson and pursuing Hayward without the Whiteside-for-Melo swap, which is fine, but keep in mind players like Melo become more useful in the postseason, when defenses tighten and the pace slows. If he really were to buy into the Heat’s system and C-U-L-T-(fine, I’ll stop), he could be a very productive 4 at this stage of his career with the chance to be the go-to guy for playoff possessions that require hero ball.
Another plus: He’d lose the man boobs in Miami’s elite conditioning program.
Teams have shown you can win without an elite big man, though Whiteside isn’t there yet and may never get there with his highly limited offensive game. What you absolutely need in this league, however, are multiple playmakers and this roster would be oozing with them.
Apologies to Dion Waiters, there’s just not enough cap space. It’s not you. It’s us.
Melo would obviously have to sign off on getting traded to Miami — buddies Dwyane Wade and LeBron James could help prevent that — but why would he not want to come here? Just as women know to go to special places to have their genital area rejuvenated, NBA players know Miami is the place to have their careers rejuvenated. Nobody tightens a player up quite like that Heat training staff.
This got a little too weird, didn’t it?