MIAMI – The NBA draft went mostly according to form with few surprises.
The Phoenix Suns kicked off Thursday’s draft by selecting the player they have been linked to for several weeks, Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, with the No. 1 pick. By the end of the night, 60 players were selected, but none by the Miami Heat, who entered the night without a pick and did not make a move to get into either the first or second round.
Here are our 5 quick hits from the night:
The Doncic Dilemma: One of the bizarre moments of the draft was Luka Doncic talking about playing for the Mavericks while wearing a Hawks hat. Atlanta made the selection with the No. 3 pick after agreeing to swap first rounders with Dallas. The Mavericks then took Trae Young at No. 5 and the deal was completed (the Hawks also received a future protected first-round pick). The 6-foot-7 Doncic has been a professional since he was 15-years-old and comes into the NBA with stunning credentials for an 18-year-old after a year in which he teamed with Goran Dragic to help Slovania win the EuroBasket championship and being named MVP of the EuroLeauge and EuroLeauge Final 4.
LeBron’s future teammate?: One of the biggest question marks entering the draft had to do with the Cavaliers’ first-round pick. Would Cleveland use the No. 8 overall selection in a trade to acquire a star to play next to LeBron James? Nope. The Cavaliers used the pick to draft Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, who averaged 18.6 points and 3.3 assists as a freshman last season. Now the question is, will Sexton get to play with LeBron? The Heat were in a similar situation in 2014, when they added a point guard by the name of Shabazz Napier in the first round just weeks before LeBron left in free agency to sign with the Cavaliers.
Jubilation to disappointment: The happiest family in the draft room was Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and his mom, Tyneeha Rivers, when Bridges was selected by the hometown Philadelphia 76ers, and his mom’s employer, with the 10th overall pick. Rivers is the vice president of human resources for the 76ers and was elated when the pick was announced. But the idea of mom and son carpooling to work lasted about 20 minutes before the Sixers traded Bridges to Phoenix for Zhaire Smith, who was taken 16th, and a 2021 first-round pick. Both of those Phoenix picks were acquired from Miami for Goran Dragic.
Mikal Bridges and his mom were so excited when he got drafted by Sixers.
The curious case of Michael Porter Jr.: Just months ago, the words “Michael Porter Jr.” and “the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft” were mentioned in the same sentence. But due to injury concerns regarding his back, Porter slipped all the way to the Nuggets at No. 14. There’s no question that Porter is talented, but his health was a big red flag. He suffered a back injury two minutes into his first game as a freshman at Missouri and did not return until the SEC tournament. This is one of those situations that the one-and-done rule really played a big role in. Porter could have been the first pick in last year’s draft had the rule not been in place.
Miami represented in draft: The Miami Heat had a quiet night with no picks, but the Miami Hurricanes were well-represented Thursday. San Antonio drafted former Hurricanes guard Lonnie Walker in the first round with the 18th overall pick and Detroit selected former Hurricanes guard Bruce Brown in the second round with the 42nd overall pick. Walker left Miami after one season and Brown left Miami after two seasons. No other players from in-state colleges were drafted this year.
“There was some opportunities but because of our situation we felt it was best to pass,” Riley said minutes after the draft ended. “The second-round pick costs two second round picks or a future second round pick and cash or something, so you know when you get into the second round it’s like a lottery, it’s like a game of Monopoly, it’s not worth it.
“We have 10 guys under contract so roster spots are a little bit tight right now. We did have and opportunity but it passed of maybe doing something in the first round.”
Riley said the Heat were called about a lot of players but none were offered, including Justise Winslow.
Several trades were consummated early in the first round before a flurry of trades came in the second round. But for just the third time in their history, and second in the last three years, the draft passed without the Heat making a pick or acquiring a player through a trade.
The conclusion of the 2018 draft means the Heat now are allowed to trade their 2019 first-round pick.
Miami now turns to the next phase of the offseason, which includes targeting undrafted free agents, exploring trades and preparing for free agency.
Miami, though, lacks flexibility to be a major player in free agency and will focus on the trade market.
Excluding cap holds, the Heat have 10 players under contract for 2018-19 who are due about $119 million: center Hassan Whiteside ($25.4 million), guard Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million), guard Goran Dragic ($18.1 million), forward James Johnson ($14.7 million), center Kelly Olynyk ($12.5 million), guard Dion Waiters ($11.6 million), forward/guard Josh Richardson ($9.4 million), forward Justise Winslow ($3.5 million), center Bam Adebayo ($3.0 million) and guard/forward Rodney McGruder ($1.5 million — assuming Miami guarantees his salary).
That puts the Heat way above the projected $101 million salary cap and very close to the projected $123 million luxury tax line.
Several stars reportedly are on the market but the Heat could be handicapped because they lack future draft picks and star players. San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard is the biggest name being kicked around in trade rumors but Miami could be competing with teams like the Celtics, Sixers and Lakers when it comes to Leonard, all of whom could offer much more attractive packages than the Heat.
Leonard also comes with a huge risk as a player who is expected to opt out of his contract next summer and become a free agent.
Among the other players the Heat could pursue through a trade: Oklahoma City’s Carmelo Anthony, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, Portland’s C.J. McCollum, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins and Washington’s John Wall or Bradley Beal.
The most pressing need will be adding players to fill out their summer league roster. The Heat will send a team to Sacramento and Las Vegas. The Sacramento summer league starts July 2, while Las Vegas begins four days later.
“Roster spots are tight so what we want to do is fill out our summer roster with two-way contracts and also affiliate contracts, our summer league team and go from there,” Riley said.
ESPN reported undrafted rookie forwards Duncan Robinson of Michigan and Yante Maten of Georgia have agreed to play for the Heat’s summer league team.
Miami entered the draft without a pick, its first rounder being sent to Phoenix in 2015 as part of the Dragic trade and its second-rounder belonging to Houston via Memphis.
The Suns drafted Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith with the Heat’s pick and then traded him to Philadelphia for Mikal Bridges, who was taken 10th. Phoenix also sent its 2021 first-round pick to Philadelphia, which also was part of the Dragic deal.
The 2021 pick could be especially valuable coming in the year in which the NBA could do away with the one-and-done rule that requires players to spend at least one season in college. If the rule is abolished, the 2021 class could include the best players from consecutive classes.
The Heat could have had several possible trade partners when it comes to acquiring a pick in the first round. Five teams – Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and the Clippers – had multiple picks in the first round, with the Hawks owning three. The Suns, Hawks, Sixers and Clippers were involved in trades but all involved swapping first-round picks.
Nobody traded out of the first round and none of the trades included a player who was in the NBA last season.
The NBA draft is hours away and the Miami Heat could jump back into the game.
According to Sports Illustrated the Heat are looking into acquiring a first-round pick in tonight’s draft.
One team to keep an eye on as the draft nears: the Miami Heat, who have been pursuing the possibility of acquiring a first-round selection, according to multiple league sources. At the moment, the Heat don’t own a draft pick.
Miami currently is without a pick, its first rounder being sent to Phoenix in 2015 as part of the Goran Dragic trade (that turned out to be No. 16) and its second rounder being dealt to Memphis and now belonging to Houston.
But the Heat could have several possible trade partners when it comes to acquiring a pick in the first round. Five teams – Phoenix, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and the Clippers – have multiple picks in the first round, with the Hawks owning three.
Additionally, Memphis is willing to deal the No. 4 overall pick, but the remaining $49.2 million on Chandler Parson’s contract must be part of the deal. Several teams reportedly are engaged in talks with the Grizzlies, the Heat do not appear to be among them.
More realistic trading partners could be the Clippers with the 12th and 13th pick, the Hawks could be swayed to move the 19th or 30th pick (Atlanta also has No. 3); the Bulls, who have the seventh and 22nd pick or the 76ers, who own the 10th and 26th picks.
Some of these teams, though, could be looking to package their picks to move up in the draft.
The Heat would have to get creative. Miami is not going to give away a player like Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo or Justise Winslow for a mid- to low-first round pick unless it is part of a much bigger trade that involves other assets coming back to the Heat.
Miami, though, can use its 2019 first-round pick as an enticement if it chooses. If the Heat make any deal that involves next year’s pick it cannot be announced until after the draft, which is when Miami is allowed to trade that pick.