One of the most interesting traits that Miami Heat president Pat Riley has developed in his time as an executive is finding disgruntled players at the right time and making deals for them. This year was no different.
In one of the busiest NBA trade deadlines in recent years, particularly the last 15 minutes, Riley was able to get his man in point guard Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns. The story of how this came to be is an interesting tale.
This began on Monday when Dragic let the Suns know that he would not re-sign with the team in the upcoming offseason and gave them a list of team he wanted to be traded to. The list included the Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, and New York Knicks. As these three teams were seen as having not enough assets to trade for Dragic outright the Suns began looking outside his list for trades while at the same time trying to deal guard Isaiah Thomas first in an effort to change Dragic’s mind.
Hopes for convincing Dragic to stay in Phoenix dimmed on Wednesday when he let frustration be public by telling the media that he no longer trusted the Suns front office. Phoenix for their part still tried to get better offers from teams outside Dragic’s list but were not able to get good enough offers as those teams didn’t think they would be able to sign him to an extension.
The next 24 hours were essentially a stare off between the Suns and Dragic to see who would blink first, which in the end was Phoenix.
What makes this trade amazing is how the Heat were able to position themselves to be the lead suitors. As Phoenix told teams that they were going to keep Dragic publicly they were still taking offers. Miami, as was reported by ESPN, made a strong offer of center Chris Andersen, forward Josh McRoberts, and two future first round picks and it looked like the Suns were going to accept the deal and trade Dragic to the Heat.
What the deal looked like in the end was another story.
The Heat sent the two first round picks, one in 2017 and the other in 2021, but not Andersen and McRoberts. Instead Miami sent Danny Granger to Phoenix for Dragic and his younger brother Zoran while sending Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, and Shawne Williams to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Suns received John Salmons from the Pelicans as part of the trade.
Essentially the Heat went from giving up a key rotation player and one of its’ major offseason signings to giving up three seldom used players and an inconsistent role player in Cole. In exchange Miami made their biggest weakness at point guard into a strength. Add to that the fact that Dragic does not look like a rental player as he is willing to sign long-term with Miami and one can say that this trade is a coup.
The change that Dragic brings to Miami is drastic. A starting lineup consisting of him and Dwyane Wade at guard along with Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, and diamond in the rough finding Hassan Whiteside up front makes the Heat, if they can remain healthy, a team that is dangerous in the playoffs. 24 hours ago this wasn’t the case for Miami.
All in a day’s work for Riley.