The Miami Heat have reached the Eastern Conference Finals behind a defense that has accumulated 15.5 deflections per game during the playoffs while contesting 21.0 three-point shots nightly. Still, after watching the Heat shoot 4-24 during the third quarter of their Game 5 implosion to the Celtics, which ultimately cost them the contest and left their championship hopes dangling by a thread, they feel miles away from being able to score enough points to hang a banner.
During the Heat’s recent shellacking against the Celtics, 76ers big man Joel Embiid tweeted, “Miami need another star,” four simple words that went viral. Please ignore Embiid's poor grammar and the irony of a player whose squad lost to the Heat in the Second Round offering roster advice to them. Embiid is right. The Miami Heat need another All-Star quality scorer to help them go from a nice playoff story to an actual champion.
Below we’ll break down four offseason trades that would land the Miami Heat a third star to pair with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
The Miami Heat Land An All-Star From the Bulls
Miami Heat Receive: Zach LaVine (Sign and Trade)
Chicago Bulls Receive: Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, 2022 First-Round Pick, 2023 First-Round Pick
The Miami Heat are ranked ninth in Offensive Rating (111.2) during the 2022 playoffs behind Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry’s struggles to put the ball in the basket. Herro has looked lost at times during the second and third rounds, and his production has fallen off a cliff, down from 20.7 PPG in the regular season to 13.5 PPG. Kyle Lowry has been even less productive dribbling in a measly 5.6 PPG during the postseason.
As the Eastern Conference Finals have progressed, the Celtics have sunk their teeth into Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, swarming both players during every half-court possession with the understanding the Heat have no other reliable scoring outlet who can burn them. However, if the Heat acquired Zach LaVine during the offseason, he’d fit perfectly in Miami’s backcourt as an explosive offensive weapon who can get to the rack at will, nail off-the-dribble three-pointers, and hit his teammates with precision passes. He’d be the perfect pressure release valve for Butler and Adebayo, a genuine floor-spacing All-Star who’d un-cramp the court for the entire Heat roster.
As for the Bulls, they just got destroyed in the First Round of the playoffs by the Milwaukee Bucks as Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Grayson Allen shredded their defense. Zach LaVine’s offensive skill-set is admittedly impressive, but the Bulls have enough scoring with DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, and Lonzo Ball. If Chicago wants to go from a First Round warmup for the big boys to a genuine title contender in their own right, they need more defense. Kyle Lowry, 36, isn’t the same defender he was during his prime, but he’s still miles ahead of Zach LaVine as a point-of-attack ballhawk. While Tyler Herro isn’t known as a lockdown artist, he finished the regular season holding his assignments to a 45.7% clip from the field, a much better mark than LaVine. A backcourt foursome of Lowry, Herro, Ball, and Caruso would be a handful for any team, and if DeMar DeRozan plays like an MVP next season, the Bulls could make some real playoff noise.
The Heat And Wizards Consummate A Deal
Miami Heat Receive: Bradley Beal (Sign and Trade)
Washington Wizards Receive: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, 2022 First-Round Pick, 2023 First-Round Pick
Bradley Beal is far from a perfect player. He shot 30.0% from deep during the regular season, and he has a -0.9 Defensive Box Plus/Minus throughout his career. Still, he’s a top-15 scorer known mainly as a long distance shooter outside of Washington but is actually an excellent all-around offensive player with an explosive first step to the basket, a pure pull-up mid-range jumper, and top-tier vision from the shooting guard position. Beal would take over as the Heat’s initiator on offense, using his rim slashing ability and passing to create space for Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry. On defense, Miami is perfectly positioned to cover Beal’s on-ball deficiencies. With Lowry, Vincent, and Butler in the fold, head coach Erik Spoelstra could hide his new shooting guard on the opposing squad’s weakest scorer.
The Wizards, meanwhile, were 3.2 points per 100 possessions worse, with Bradley Beal on the court in 2021-22. Beal is an elite scorer, but as an all-around player, he’s not inside the top-20, and he’s never come close to proving he can be the leading player on a championship-caliber squad. In other words, the Wizards are going nowhere next year with a maxed-out Beal surrounded by Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Washington would be better off taking a chance on Tyler Herro - who’ll come at a lower price than Beal - and seeing if he can go from the Sixth Man of the Year to a genuine All-Star while also importing 2022 playoff sensation Max Strus along with future draft capital.
The Heat Take A Risk On The Beard
Miami Heat Receive: James Harden
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus
Let’s start off with the elephant in the room: The Miami Heat oversee two body fat tests for their players per week in which they cannot surpass nine percent body fat. At the same time, James Harden was probably the pudgiest active athlete in the NBA this season, a player who had a genuine paunch while playing for the Nets.
Jermaine O’Neal recently gave a hilarious anecdote about his troubles playing under the Heat’s body fat rule:
“I remember going into the pantry at night, looking at the Oreos, the Oreos looking at me, right? And I could — bruh, I am in a full battle, daily, on what I ate. And I was like, ‘Bruh, I’m 30-plus years old. I can’t go through this.’”
Jermaine O’Neal ultimately succumbed to the siren call of a box of Oreos instead of sucking it up for the chance to play with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh for a title:
“So I was like, ‘Bruh, I’m too old to be having a debate whether I want to have an Oreo or not.’ Right? I can’t do that s—. So that’s why I left Miami.”
We’ll assume that James Harden has enough self-control to put aside his favorite naughty indulgences to try and claim his first title with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry in Miami. An in-shape James Harden would be pretty damn impressive in Miami, especially considering that an out-of-shape James Harden was:
Second in the league in assists (10.3 per game).
First in the league, in isolation plays per game (7.6) while scoring 1.07 points per possession, which was good for the 87th percentile.
A solid-ish defender with a 0.3 Defensive Box Plus/Minus (67th out of 605 qualified players) and 2.7 Defensive Win Shares (45th).
James Harden would help clear space for Jimmy Butler’s mid-range game and Bam Adebayo’s bull-rushes down the lane with his vision and ability to produce at a high rate in one-on-one situations.
As for Philly, the James Harden experiment was a failure. The Beard looked sad and lost during the playoffs, a clichéd shell of his former self. Perhaps he needs the strict no-fat structure of the Heat to find his better self instead of the more free-flowing environment in The City of Brotherly Love.
The 76ers would land Tyler Herro (presumably on a fresh rookie max extension), a shooting guard with an excellent three-point jumper, top-15 off-the-dribble mid-range game, and above-average perimeter defense. Duncan Robinson would be a good fit there because the 76ers need shooters around Joel Embiid. They would also acquire two players, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent, who have proven they are more than capable of starting for a championship-caliber squad. Not a bad haul for a player who disappeared in the postseason.
The Heat Acquire Spida In A Massive Trade
Miami Heat Receive: Donovan Mitchell
Utah Jazz Receive: Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, 2022 First-Round Pick
Donovan Mitchell averaged 25.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 5.3 APG while shooting 35.5% from deep during the regular season. Going deeper, Mitchell led the Jazz to the most effective pick and roll offense in the league, propelling Utah to 1.00 points per possession on pick and rolls off 20.1 field goal attempts per game, both league highs. At the same time, the Heat are tied for the second-highest pick and roll rate in the playoffs at 19.5%, but are scoring at only a ho-hum 0.89 points per possession.
Donovan Mitchell and the Miami Heat seem like a match made in basketball heaven. You’d combine one of the three best pick and roll ball handlers in the league with a team that loves to run pick and rolls, but struggles to convert at a high clip off their favored play type.
When you consider Donovan Mitchell’s fringe superstar status with his pick and roll chops, this trade seems like a steal of a deal for the Heat, a transaction concocted by a massive Miami homer playing armchair GM on his computer. However, this deal isn’t as one-sided as it first appears.
Donovan Mitchell, nestled in the safe confines of small-market Utah, mainly escapes national media scrutiny. Still, he’s essentially been your prototypical one-way chucker throughout his career, in the same mold as Steve Francis or Stephon Marbury. Donovan Mitchell was one of the poorest defenders in the NBA during the regular season. He allowed his assignments to shoot 4.0% over their normal average while head coach Quin Snyder mostly hid him against the opposing squad’s least effective perimeter scorer while he also had Rudy Gobert, the most talented rim protector of the last 20 years, covering up his miscues in the lane. Simply put: Donovan Mitchell’s defense during 2021-22 was atrocious, and maybe, considering all the factors, worse than 6’1", 164-pound Trae Young’s play on the less fun end.
The Miami Heat marched to the Eastern Conference Finals with their defense. Sure, they need more scoring, but they don’t want to crater their point prevention to find it. The Heat would have to hope that Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, coach Spoelstra, and the Miami culture will be enough to motivate Mitchell into becoming at least an above-average defender. And if Mitchell does become an above-average defender, the sky would be the limit for the Heat because, with Spida in South Beach, they’d be a genuine problem for opposing teams on offense.
The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, (as you’ve heard 5 billion times by now) have lost in the first or second round of the playoffs the last six seasons in a row, a perfectly boring mid-tier playoff team without a hope-in-hell of winning a title as currently constructed.
But what if the Jazz brought in two excellent defensive backcourt players, Kyle Lowry and Gabe Vincent? Then PG Mike Conley would become superfluous. And maybe the Jazz could package Conley with Jordan Clarkson or Royce O’Neale for a two-way wing like Jerami Grant. And suddenly, the Utah Jazz would have an aggressive head-of-the-snake defender in Kyle Lowry, the second-best point guard defender during the 2022 playoffs in Gabe Vincent, a top-25 overall defender in Jerami Grant, and the most effective rim protector in the league in Rudy Gobert. And they’d also have the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, Tyler Herro, ready to take the next step as an All-Star. And maybe the Jazz would become a top-tier defensive squad with enough playmaking and outside shooting to make it past the Second Round of the playoffs. Maybe, in the end, the Jazz would win this trade.
The Heat Have The Means To Land Another Impact Scorer During The Offseason
The Heat have three players — Tyler Herro, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus — on significantly discounted contracts, which means they’ll have more options this summer than nearly every other team in the league. Perhaps the Heat will cash in on a few of their cheap assets packaged with either Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson to create a Big-3 down in South Beach.
The Bulls are a tier below the Heat, Bucks, and Celtics and could be interested in shaking things up by signing and trading Zach LaVine for more defensive help. The Washington Wizards are miles away from competing for a championship and could also (sign and) trade Bradley Beal for more depth and future assets. The 76ers failed with James Harden in the fold and would be wise to send him to the Heat for Herro, Vincent, and Strus. Finally, the Utah Jazz needs a change. Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent, and Tyler Herro would help change their culture from an offense-only team to a defense-first squad.