Even at 76 years old, Pat Riley still does things the ski-mask way.
This process began on July 6, 2019, a pre-pandemic time that feels more distant than it should. Days after the Heat executed a sign-and-trade that could change the direction of their franchise; two deals were made official, the summary: Miami had acquired Jimmy Butler (along with KZ Okpala and Meyers Leonard) for Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside, a 2023 first-round pick, and minimal draft compensation in the form of three second-rounders. It was across two separate deals, one three-team, and one four-team. They added a true max player without having cap space.
“Why would the Heat trade for Jimmy Butler to lose in the first round of the playoffs?” was a common thought from the uninitiated, even as it arrived several weeks after Butler carried the Philadelphia 76ers within a bounce of beating the subsequent NBA Champion Toronto Raptors. And since then, Riley has had the ambition of City of God stick-up kid despite being in his mid-70s. He’s still robbing teams using minimal outgoing pieces of consequence. For months, Heat fans and NBA analysts have theorized which of Miami’s many prospects would have to be sacrificed for a win-now move at the trade deadline. The answer: Not one. Not a fucking one.
The Heat added Victor Oladipo yesterday afternoon for an injured Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and a 2022 first-round draft pick swap. The same Oladipo, a two-time NBA All-Star who was the centerpiece of a James Harden trade return compensation group that didn’t include Caris LeVert and or Jarrett Allen. Hours beforehand, they landed Nemanja Bjelica for Moe Harkless and Chris Silva, who played a combined 203 minutes this season. Last week, they used the injured Leonard’s $9 million salary and a 2027 second-rounder to plug in Trevor Ariza from Oklahoma City. And even last season, they moved an injured Justise Winslow, a disgruntled Dion Waiters, and an out-of-rotation James Johnson, for Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, and Solomon Hill, which aided a push to the NBA Finals.
And now, this season, they not only landed Oladipo, but they lost only one rotation player (Olynyk) through the entire day. And, in all likelihood, they’ll probably get the best version of Oladipo. They damn near have to. Oladipo will be a free agent this summer, and he’ll turn 29 years old in May, making this his last opportunity at a huge contract. He’s also on his fifth team in six seasons, so it would behoove him to start busting people’s asses. The Heat are just 22-23 amid their current five-game losing streak, and if Oladipo could impact winning in a meaningful way, it’ll bode well for his financial ambitions.
They drew a line on Kyle Lowry, not wanting to part with Tyler Herro, according to the 5 Reasons Sports crew, and in turn, they didn’t have to sacrifice Iguodala or another young player like Precious Achiuwa and or Duncan Robinson, either. They netted Oladipo for much less and maintained cap room flexibility to maneuver this off-season.
Greg Sylvander of 5 Reasons Sports reports that they’re also getting LaMarcus Aldridge, and the Heat have been a front runner all-along for him, reports Adrian Wojnarowski.
Whether or not they won the trade deadline is irrelevant, though they probably did. Riley’s got a gun to the head of seemingly every other NBA organization. Either way, the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Boston Celtics would probably rather avoid the Heat for as long as they can in the upcoming playoffs.