Andre Iguodala may have for the Miami Heat at the NBA trade deadline, but their biggest expected addition was Oklahoma City forward Danilo Gallinari. Originally slated to be included in the Iguodala deal as a three-team trade, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that, for now, Miami and Memphis are focusing on making this a two-team deal. With time running out before the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, there is still time to make this work as a three-team deal, but the odds grow thinner by the moment.
There are two apparent snags for Miami in negotiating this deal. The first relates to compensation for the Thunder. Miami owes Oklahoma City its own pick in 2023, but that pick is lottery-protected. However, the structure of that pick's protections means that it may not convey until 2026. Because of the Stepien Rule, which prevents teams from trading consecutive first-round picks, that means Miami is currently unable to include a first-round pick in a potential Gallinari trade without rewriting the protections on the pick that is already owed to Oklahoma City. For now, it seems as though the Heat and Thunder haven't agreed on either new protections for that pick or the draft compensation beyond it.
The other issue is Gallinari's pending free agency. There have been multiple reports suggesting that the Heat negotiated a potential contract extension with Gallinari Wednesday night, but Miami's 2021 aspirations complicate such an arrangement. The Heat want to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo and other superstars in free agency that summer, so saving max cap space is critical. A Gallinari extension could cut into that. The most the Heat could give him is a two-year deal worth $24.9 million for the 2021-22 season. At this point, Miami will have approximately $54 million in cap space that offseason, but a max contract for Antetokounmpo under the projected $125 million cap would cost $37.5 million. Bringing in Gallinari at that number would make signing a max free agent much harder.
The Heat and Grizzlies will likely hold off on making an official trade call to the league until the last possible moment. Structurally speaking, it would be significantly easier for the Heat to make a three-team deal than two separate two-team deals due to the rules related to salary aggregation. In short, a three-team deal allows the Heat to reroute Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill's salary to Oklahoma City in exchange for Gallinari's. Doing so would be infinitely preferable to trading their own large salaries. Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard would all be possible inclusions, but they are all important members of Miami's rotation.
For now, Miami seems content to acquire Iguodala, Crowder and Hill. Such a trade still nets them quite a bit of extra wing depth and shores up any leaks defensively. But Gallinari is the big fish that announces to Milwaukee, Philadelphia and the rest of the Eastern Conference that the Heat are a contender to be taken seriously. Miami will likely still do whatever it can to bring Gallinari in before it's too late.