MIAMI – It’s time for another Miami Heat mailbag.
If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpostcom.
From @AsherWildMan6: 1. Who do you see as most tradeable chips on Miami 2. If Miami clears space, who are the big free agents next year, or expiring contract players to keep an eye on with trade thoughts.
Nobody on the Heat is untouchable, although it would take a lot for the Pat Riley to include Bam Adebayo in a deal (remember, Josh Richardson cannot be traded until after the season). That question can only be answered if we know which the team(s) are involved in the deal. If someone needs a big man, Miami certainly would consider moving Hassan Whiteside. Miami has several wings who they would move in a trade. But certainly Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Kelly Olynyk all could be included either separately or packaged in a deal.
But what can Miami receive in return? The names that are starting to surface at this point are OKC’s Paul George and even New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. George comes with a risk considering he has an expiring contract. Davis would be no-brainer to pursue but do the Heat have enough if the Pelicans decide to move him. Also, Davis’ teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. In each case, the availability of the player at the Feb. 8 trade deadline would be determined by the direction in which the teams are headed.
The 2018 crop of free agents is very top heavy with George, Cousins, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan. The next tier includes Aaron Gordon (restricted), Avery Bradley, Clint Capela (restricted), Jabari Parker (restricted), Zach LaVine (restricted), Rodney Hood (restricted) and Jusuf Nurkic (restricted). But unless the Heat clear cap space they will not be a player during free agency next summer. Miami’s projected payroll is about $10 above the projected salary cap.
From @ChrisHypeTrain: Has Josh Richardson become the Heat’s best player?
He has been this year. Richardson not only has blossomed offensively but he continues to be a lockdown defender and he’s durable (Richardson is one of three Heat player to have played every game). Richardson is averaging 17.8 points 3.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in December while shooting .550 from the field and .475 on 3-pointers. He has had four games of at least 24 points in the month, including topping his career-high twice. Entering Tuesday’s game against Orlando, Richardson was limiting players he’s defending to 38.1 percent shooting, 6.6 percent below than their combined average shooting percentage.