For an organization whose supposed signifier around the league is “competently professional,” the Miami Heat sure seem to have botched their big trade for Jimmy Butler. After The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that a sign-and-trade deal featuring Butler heading to the 305 and Josh Richardson going the other way back to Philly had been completed, it was reported by Marc Stein that the Heat were also involving the Dallas Mavericks in order to do some required clearing of the salary cap. But Dallas balked, and now, hours after it was reported, we’re still waiting for Miami’s acquisition of Butler to become official.
Apparently, the Heat thought that they would be sending point guard Goran Dragic to the Mavs in order to clear cap space for Butler, only to get rebuked when Dallas asked for Kelly Olynyk and human bouncy castle Derrick Jones Jr. instead. Miami reportedly did not want to part with Jones, a springy wing with poor shooting but hops for days. On top of that, the cap wouldn’t work if the deal preferred by the Mavs went through; Miami would still be about $1.7 million over the hard cap. So, it would appear that the originally proposed three-way deal is dead, and now Miami has to scramble to pick up the pieces, as the Mavs are reportedly not interested in Dragic as of Sunday night.
Philadelphia wants to get the Butler-Richardson swap done ASAP, while, according to Stein, Miami still has interest in offloading the 33-year-old Dragic, who will be making $19.2 million in the last season of his deal. That would open up enough room to fit Butler in under the cap, while also giving some unknown third team a player that, though definitely declining and dealing with injuries, still was a starting-level point guard last season.
Considering how quickly Miami got the sign-and-trade deal done after meeting with Butler on Sunday, it’s worrying that such a key part of the move would fall apart over a misunderstanding with Dallas. The likelihood is still that Miami will get this done, because Dragic is both useful and a large expiring contract, and someone will scoop him up for nothing but their participation in the deal. But a deal that seemed like a sure thing on Sunday night now has an unnecessary level of uncertainty, and now Butler, Richardson, and at least two different fanbases are in a holding pattern over a fundamental misunderstanding.
Update (6:43 p.m. ET):
Rather than trade Dragic, the Heat got creative and involved both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers in the Butler deal, as reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.