Miami sent that selection and another first-rounder to Cleveland on a sign-and-trade for James in 2010 (it gave the Heat the ability to sign him to a six-year deal at a higher salary, which he opted out of after four years, making that whole maneuver pretty much unnecessary). The pick was flipped to Minnesota, which sent it too the 76ers, and Philadelphia used it tonight to take Timothe Luwawu at No. 24 overall.
Nonetheless, if Miami hadn’t surrendered the pick, here are three guys it could have had:
1. Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina
Johnson, who went 25th to the Los Angeles Clippers, is a traditional power forward with excellent athleticism. He could have been an instant asset off the bench for Miami because of his energy in the paint, and has the potential to develop into a long-range shooter in the right development program.
2. Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky
Even more so than Johnson, Labissiere would have been a long-term project for the Heat. He went No. 28 to Phoenix. He’s a 6-foot-11, 215-pound forward who was up and down for the Wildcats last year, but was widely expected to go higher than 20th in the draft.
3. Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt
The scouting report on Jones actually sounds quite a bit like Hassan Whiteside. At 6-foot-11, 243 pounds, he has the size to be an effective shot blocker around the rim and has shown proficiency as a rebounder. While his overall game is raw, the Warriors were pleased to pick him up with the 30th pick.