MIAMI – The Miami Heat holds the 13th pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft. The Local 10 sports department answers some key questions on which direction Pat Riley may go with the pick. Will Manso and Clay Ferraro put their general manager caps on to discuss.
Should the Heat keep the pick or trade it?
Will: Listening to Riley at his end of season news conference made it pretty clear he wants to make a splash and believes he can do it this offseason. Unfortunately, the Heat will need to be creative to make big moves and hope they can entice other teams with the assets they have. The 13th pick happens to be one of those assets. I do think Riley and crew will be looking to move the pick if it can bring any kind of financial relief from some of the big contracts they have on board. It’s unlikely Miami can do that without trading the pick. Adding a 2nd round pick prior to the draft makes me think something is brewing. To me, moving some of the contracts on the roster is more valuable than the 13th pick, but actually finding a deal that works is easier said than done. Remember, while drafting a young player is nice, the Heat desperately needs to find a superstar, and that’s the true focus.
Clay: This is a nuanced question. Pat Riley told us months ago that a) they are not “stuck” with their current bad contracts and b) the most important factor in acquiring a star is having that star want to come to Miami. He’s right on “b.” Free agency has changed. It doesn’t only happen when contracts expire anymore. Trades for future free agents happen just as much as big free agent signings these days. That 13th pick could be a valuable chip if a star wants to come here. You also have a really good class of free agents this year. If a star free agent wants to come to Miami, that 13th pick *could* potentially be used in a sign-and-trade deal to get that player to Miami, despite their lack of cap space. So if I had my choice, I’d trade the pick. But that’s assuming a star wants to come here (it would also require some, um, creative dealing since technically free agents can’t meet with teams until June 30th. But that’s another story).
Can the Heat get an impactful player in the draft who can help right away?
Will: That’s an interesting question. I doubt Miami will get an instant star in this spot, though it’s not unheard of. Donovan Mitchell was taken 13th overall just a couple of years ago and has been the franchise player in Utah since his rookie year. More likely, the 13th pick will be a rotation player who can help but not be a go-to-player for Miami. The list of players who could help the Heat in this spot is long. Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Romeo Langford and PJ Washington are the kind of players who will likely have an instant role in Miami. Other players like Sekou Doumboya, Nassir Little, Bol Bol and Kevin Porter offer good upside but will likely take some patience in developing. Other players like Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson and Cam Johnson are possibilities. The Heat are very particular in finding the right combination of talent and someone who they feel can fit the Heat culture. That’s a big reason they took Bam Adebayo a couple of years ago when John Collins was still on the board.
Clay: Only if a point guard unexpectedly falls. The Heat were lost when they didn’t have one of Justise Winslow or Goran Dragic on the floor last season. Winslow shined as a point forward, but Dragic just has one year left on his deal and the Heat need someone to pick up more ball handling responsibilities moving forward (and that’s assuming Dragic is even on the roster for camp). Unfortunately, the only three impactful point guards (Ja Morant, Darius Garland and Coby White) will likely be long gone when Miami picks. PJ Washington would be a nice rotational player that could help Miami a number of ways. He was Kentucky’s heart and soul this season. At 6-8, he may be a little small for the traditional power forward role, but he shot 42% from 3 point range last season and, if he builds on that, he could be a very versatile 4 in the new age NBA.
Who would you want for the Heat but likely won’t be there?
Will: Sekou Doumboya, Rui Hachimura.
Clay: Sekou Doumbouya, Coby White.
Who would you take at 13 who will likely be there?
Will: Brandon Clarke.
Clay: PJ Washington.
Who will the Heat take at 13, if they keep the pick?
Will: Romeo Langford.
Clay: PJ Washington.