The 2015-16 NBA training camps are still weeks away, but that’s not stopping teams from already trimming rosters.
The Miami Heat got into the act earlier today by sending former 2014 first-round pick Shabazz Napier to the Orlando Magic in exchange for a future protected second-round pick.
Moving Napier makes sense for the Heat on three fronts, the main one being money. Even though Napier will only make $1.3 million this season, his contract being off Miami’s books will take some luxury tax burden off the team since no player came back in the trade. It also adds much needed cap space for the 2016 free agency period to pursue forward Kevin Durant.
The second front for the trade being has been play on the court. Napier did not have a consistent rookie season and that was enough for the Heat to start looking at other options for a backup point guard to Goran Dragic. One idea was to play Tyler Johnson, a D-League call up who played surprisingly well last season, as a point guard during the Summer League period. That experiment ended when Johnson suffered a broken jaw. It also plays into the Miami template of trusting veteran players more than young ones. This means that guard Mario Chalmers, who himself has been the subject of trade rumors, is likely safe for the time being.
The third front for the trade is catharsis. The main reason for Heat president Pat Riley taking Napier in the 2014 draft was to appease forward LeBron James who was a free agent at the time. Once James spurned Miami to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers Riley has been slowly wiping signs of his influence from the Heat. The first instance was guard Norris Cole, whose agent is James’s friend Rich Paul, being moved in the Dragic trade and making sure he didn’t go to the Cavaliers.