With a team exceeding expectations, the NBA title picture being wide open, and the trade deadline looming Miami Heat president Pat Riley decided once again to be bold.
The Heat finalized a trade Thursday acquiring forwards Andre Igoudala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for forwards Justise Winslow and James Johnson along with guard Dion Waiters. Igoudala has also agreed to a two-year $30 million extension with a team option in 2021.
The transaction ultimately added a third team in the Minnesota Timberwolves who sent center Gorgui Dieng to Memphis in exchange for Johnson.
Initially, Miami tried to have the Oklahoma City Thunder be the third team in the trade to acquire forward Danilo Gallinari but talks stalled.
Riley with this move was able to achieve two goals:
Get immediate help and depth to Miami while not having to give up a key part of their young core.
Being able to undo the mistakes made in the summer of 2017 while maintaining flexibility for the summer of 2021.
While giving up Winslow for what can be seen as an older version of him would seem like a step back his health made him the logical piece to be moved. Before the start of the season Winslow was seen as the Heat’s likely starting point guard and the combination of him and then-newly signed forward Jimmy Butler on the defensive side of the ball was intriguing.
Unfortunately injuries, a constant issue in his young career, had him sidelined for most of the season. As he sat a young core of players like rookies Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro along with Duncan Robinson, Derrick Jones Jr., and now-All Star Bam Adebayo have not only have stepped up but are now integral parts of the rotation.
With Igoudala on the roster, Miami not only gets a player that can bring defense and allow Butler to roam the floor but also another proven veteran voice that can guide the young core who have proven to be willing listeners. Even as the centerpiece though he is not the most impressive part of the trade.
Crowder can help the frontcourt and be another body to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs. Hill can be a decent backend rotation player that will be ready should an injury occur.
In acquiring both players, Miami was able to free itself of the albatross contracts of Waiters and Johnson. Neither player had lived up to the four-year deals they signed in 2017 after career seasons. This season was particularly rough for both.
Waiters was suspended three times by the Heat for detrimental conduct while Johnson was dismissed by the team for not meeting its conditioning standards prior to the start of training camp.
While both did find their way back to the court before being traded it was only due to various injuries to the rotation players.
Not only did Miami free their books of those contracts, but in getting players with expiring contracts in Crowder and Hill the team was able to lower its tax bill by $3 million.
The Heat can use the $28 million of cap space the trade provides this summer the Heat to secure Jones Jr. and guard Goran Dragic to favorable deals with enough flexibility to still be able to be a suitor for Antetokounmpo, the premier free agent available in 2021.
In making these moves, Riley is sending a clear message that he believes this Heat team can contend for a championship now. Miami hasn’t shown much to prove him wrong so far and with these additions it hopes to keep it that way.