Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Miami's Next Step

To understand where a team is going, you need to look at where they've been. Two transactions over the last two years tell the story of what went wrong for the Heat this season:
  • Trading the No. 28 pick in 2012 for two future second-rounders from the 76ers.
  • Amnestying Mike Miller last summer
If you are going to be a franchise that worries about the luxury tax and lets go of quality players for nothing in order to avoid paying it, you can't also be a franchise that snubs the draft and gives away picks in order to clear a million dollars in cap space. Conversely, if you are going to be a franchise that ignores the draft, you had better be willing to pay a pretty penny for veteran talent in free agency.

Both these moves represent giving away assets for essentially nothing. The Heat were initially given a future first-round pick from the 76ers, but there were so many conditions on it that it was almost inevitable it would turn into two second-round picks of questionable value. In essence, they violated a cardinal rule of the NBA draft - never, never trade down.

You never see the San Antonio Spurs giving up on draft picks and you saw the fruits of that strategy in this year's Finals. The Spurs didn't beat the Heat with the top of their rotation - they beat them with players #4-9. Miller and the 2012 first-round pick were two bullets Miami didn't have over the last few weeks and the Heat were a team that was desperately low on bullets.

That's what would worry me about the rumors surrounding Carmelo Anthony. It's not that Melo isn't a great player or is he isn't capable of being one of the top 3 players on a championship team, but they already have those players on the roster. Clearing room for Melo and their current Big Three would mean clearing out the rest of their roster and starting over with spots #5-12.

The Heat don't need to hit HR's - they need to rack up a couple of singles and doubles and fill out the back end of their rotation. If they had held on to that first-round pick two years ago, they could have had someone like Perry Jones III, Festus Ezeli, Jeff Taylor, Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, Will Barton or Quincy Miller. All those guys would be the best under-25 player on their roster.

In all likelihood, all those guys would look even better playing next to LeBron James, in much the same way that Norris Cole does. You could make the argument that any one of those guys could be the 4rth best player on the Miami roster next season. That's the thing about ignoring the draft and 2 years down the road - the future comes up on you faster than you might think.

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