MIAMI — Even without a pick in this year’s draft, the Heat have been busy evaluating prospects.
The Heat haven’t hosted any pre-draft workouts at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, but the team’s scouts have been on the road at pro days around the country over the past few weeks after bringing a full contingent to the draft combine in May.
Why? Because there are multiple ways for the Heat to acquire a pick in Thursday’s NBA draft (7 p.m., ESPN) … and they need to be ready for every scenario.
“Everybody probably has the perception that the Heat don’t have a draft pick this year, so the personnel staff has had a vacation for the last six months,” said Heat vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer, with the Heat and Raptors as the only teams without a selection in either round. “Actually I think it’s more difficult not having a pick.”
While the Heat could trade one of their current players to get a first-round pick or even deal next year’s first-round pick to get into the top 30, acquiring a second-round selection is a more realistic possibility for Miami on Thursday.
One of the easiest ways to get into the second round is by purchasing a pick. Picks that are purchased usually come in the second round, as first-round selections are too valuable to give up for just money.
But there’s one obstacle Miami must overcome, as it has already reached the $5.1 million cash limit it can include in 2017-18 transactions due to last year’s Josh McRoberts trade. Instead, the Heat would need to get a team to select for them and then purchase the rights to that player when next season’s “Maximum Annual Cash Limit” becomes available on July 1, but the deal would not be official until the league’s summer transaction moratorium ends at noon on July 6.
“When we see somebody on the board that we like and then all of a sudden he’s still there,” Kammerer said. “Then if we like him, we’re just hoping that he gets to where we are. Or what Pat [Riley] thinks of a lot and he’s the person who makes those calls, let’s see if we can buy a pick. Let’s see if we can get a 30s pick or somewhere in the second round. So there’s a chance.”
And there could be some teams willing to sell their second-round selections to the Heat, as Phoenix (Nos. 31 and 59), Dallas (33 and 54), Orlando (35 and 41), Philadelphia (38, 39, 56 and 60), Brooklyn (40 and 45), Denver (43 and 58) and Oklahoma City (53 and 57) all own multiple second-round picks.
Players the Heat have landed in the second round (either with their own second-round pick or through a trade) include Josh Richardson at No. 40 in 2015, James Ennis at No. 50 in 2013, Justin Hamilton at No. 45 in 2012, Dexter Pittman at No. 32 in 2010, Mario Chalmers at No. 34 in 2008 and Rasual Butler at No. 53 in 2002.
“You’re always looking for somebody that you really like that’s on the board,” Kammerer said. “Like when we got Josh Richardson. We got him at 40 [in the 2015 draft]. We really had him that year in the draft like at 23. We had him as a late first-rounder. He was there and we ended getting him at 40. I kept thinking that year, we got to move up, guys. We got to buy something and switch picks because he’s going to be going between 35 and 40. Anyway, my point is you have to be prepared for something in the early 30s or early 40s.”
Really, the Heat have to be ready for anything Thursday.
The Heat’s 2018 first-round selection (slotted at No. 16) belongs to the Suns — the first of two first-round picks owed from the 2015 acquisition of Goran Dragic. Their second-round selection (No. 46) belongs to the Houston Rockets, which received it from the Memphis Grizzles, which acquired the pick and center Chris Andersen from the Heat in 2016.
“I think it’s more work,” Kammerer said of entering the draft without a selection. “You got be prepared.”