2018 NBA draft: Pat Riley said Heat had opportunities to trade into draft but ‘passed’

Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks with the media at a season-end press conference in April. (Charles Trainor III/Miami Herald/TNS)

MIAMI – The Miami Heat explored trading into Thursday’s first round of the NBA draft but declined “because of our situation” according to president Pat Riley.

“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.

[Even without a pick in the NBA draft, the Heat have been busy preparing for every possibility]

[Heat offseason Q&A: Bam Adebayo talks about the draft, his offseason, how Dion Waiters looks]

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