Miami Heat A Slight Loser on Draft Night
Well, one of the Miami Heat’s bigger future assets is now not so big.
Pending league approval, which for salary cap reasons won’t come until July, the New Orleans Pelicans will reportedly trade center Nerlens Noel and a 2014 top-5 protected first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for point guard Jrue Holiday. The Sixers will also send its 42nd overall draft pick, point guard Pierre Jackson of Baylor, with Holiday.
Not the Heat.
Holiday was an All-Star point guard. He was the team’s best player. He was young. A cornerstone. Now he’s gone.
By trading for Noel, the former Kentucky standout, the 76ers will almost certainly not have any interest in bringing back center Andrew Bynum either. Noel, coming off a March 12 operation to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, is not expected to be ready to play until at least the end of December.
The Sixers will now have a projected $18 million in salary cap room heading into the offseason, but not a whole lot of high-quality outside free agents are expected to have much interest.
This is a complete rebuild for Philadelphia.
With their No. 11 pick, the Sixers took guard Michael Carter-Williams from Syracuse to replace Holiday. They will be giving significant minutes to a rookie point guard and a rookie center next season, as well as to a sophomore power forward in Arnett Moultrie and a fourth year shooting guard in Evan Turner, amongst several other youngsters. That’s very likely a lottery team for the foreseeable future.
Not a good outcome if you’re the Miami Heat.
Prior to the trade, the Sixers had a strong shot at being an average but irrelevant team next season, perhaps a low-level playoff team in a not very deep Eastern Conference – horrible for them, but wonderful for the Heat.
The Heat holds Philly’s 2014 first round pick from its trade of Moultrie last season, conditioned upon the Sixers making the playoffs next season. The lower the seeding for Philly within the playoffs, the better the pick would become for the Heat. An eighth seed in the East playoffs would have been perfect.
Philly was ninth in the conference last season, just one spot outside of the playoffs, with Atlanta, Boston and Milwaukee, all playoff teams last year, all rebuilding and figuring to get weaker. An eighth place finish for the Sixers in 2013-14 would have translated into a possible No. 15 pick for the Heat in the strong 2014 NBA draft.
Now it would appear that Philly has chosen to risk the present to concentrate on the future.
If Philly misses the playoffs next season, its first round pick will not get conferred to the Heat until 2015. If the Sixers then miss the playoffs the following season as well, the Heat would no longer be entitled to a first round pick. Instead, Philly’s obligation to the Heat would convert into consecutive second round picks in 2015 and 2016.