The Miami Heat are in a weird place. Following the departures of Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, and Pat Riley announcing that Chris Bosh has no future with the team because of his medical condition, 30-year-old guard Goran Dragic and 27-year-old center Hassan Whiteside are surrounded by young players and journeymen. This doesn't look like a playoff team, but Dragic, Whiteside and second-year forward Justise Winslow could do just enough to keep the team from getting a great draft pick next June.
In that context emerges a trade rumor from Basketball Insiders' Michael Scotto, who reported Tuesday that the Heat and Sacramento Kings have discussed swapping Dragic for forward Rudy Gay and guard Darren Collison. From the Kings' perspective, this makes perfect sense: Gay wants out and reportedly likes the idea of going to Miami, and Dragic would be a massive upgrade at their weakest position.
From the Heat's perspective, well, it's hard to see this move making them a better team tomorrow. But that wouldn't be the point.
A few thoughts:
- There's a strong argument to be made that Miami should tank this season. There aren't many teams participating in the race to the bottom this year, and the Heat's lack of depth and experience means that it would be relatively easy to get in the mix for the No. 1 seed. Giving up Dragic would be the first logical step in any tanking operation, and putting Gay next to a bunch of guys who don't space the floor would certainly not be a recipe for success.
- Dragic is saying all the right things about wanting to stay in Miami, but does he really have patience for a rebuilding project? Sending him somewhere else might be best for both sides, even if that somewhere else is Sacramento.
- If the Heat were to do this deal as reported, they'd be clearing an enormous amount of cap space next summer, assuming that Gay opts out of the final year of his contract. You know how Riley likes to think big when it comes to free agency.
- Any teardown is risky. The Heat tanked in 2008 and then used the No. 2 pick on Michael Beasley, who didn't exactly help them win games. There's no guarantee they'll get a franchise-changer in the draft, and, as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks have learned in recent seasons, free agency can be a painful experience even for franchises that are traditionally seen as attractive destinations. Without Wade around, it's unclear if Riley will be able to pull off his magic.