Pat Riley has pulled off exquisite blockbuster trades over the years in Miami, bringing in Shaquille O’Neal from Los Angeles where he was in his prime and Tim Hardaway from Golden State for virtually nothing back in the day. But, this Heat team is red hot right now, winning eight of their last ten games, and although injuries have added up for coach Erik Spoelstra’s men, specifically Dion Waiters’ ankle injury causing him to miss the remainder of the season, bringing in G-League talents Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr. has actually improved the squad massively. Should Riley tinker with a playoff picture team to snatch star power? Here’s why that may not be the greatest idea.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Perhaps the most cliché saying out there, but it renders true in South Beach. This Heat team has become something of an anomaly this season. The only “stars” you can argue on the team are Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, but they are just cornerstones to a greater good that is happening in this unit. There are eight players in the team that are averaging double digits in points which is almost unheard of in a league so concentrated around star players. There are also five players averaging five or more rebounds a game, which has been significant to Coach Spo’s game plan as of late. The best of Spoelstra’s teams in the past have always came out guns blazing at opposition, keeping a high tempo up and down the court, forcing fouls and turnovers left and right. Along with the high tempo basketball, this group exemplifies the word “team”, playing some of the most unselfish ball to grace the game in recent years. Team ball is so engrained in Spo’s men that they are often caught over-passing the ball even when there’s an easy lane to drive into or an unmarked baseline jumper to shoot. Either way, there is something special happening here and Pat Riley trading any piece away could tumble this house of cards.
Is there even enough trade bait?
Without trading away vital players, Riley will have difficulty acquiring the player he wants, i.e. an elite player such as Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins. Miami is an intriguing prospect for someone like George or Cousins, but Riley would have to give up decent talent for either of these two. Justice Winslow could be offered up, but with his injury woes and lack of scoring prowess, it seems unlikely any team would want him. Tyler Johnson could be shopped as well, being that his contract upgrade of $12.5 million is about to kick in and newly-signed Derrick Jones Jr. seems a natural replacement. But, with Dion Waiters now out for the season having opted to have surgery on his left ankle, keeping both players will be essential to keep the momentum moving forward.
This is a tight knit squad who has every opportunity to be great as veteran Udonis Haslem points out after a win of the Raptors:
— Udonis Haslem (@ThisIsUD) January 10, 2018
meaning Pat Riley will need to be extremely careful on how he handles this trade deadline. Don’t be surprised if we do not see any activity from Miami, but the more likely move will be monitoring the NBA closely, seeing if they can pounce on an opportunity to add and improve to this over performing Heat team. It will take a masterful stroke of genius to further blossom life in South Beach, but Riley did get LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the same team just a few years back.
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