The Miami Heat are toying with how involved they plan on getting in the trade deadline. The team is rising in the ranking in the Eastern Conference and could get away with keeping the same team intact for the remainder of the year. However, the Heat have salary cap issues heading into next offseason with three big stars on expiring deals. If they feel someone might not re-sign, a trade could come into play.
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Heat could very well make Hassan Whiteside and/or Luol Deng available at the trade deadline. Both players have expiring contracts and one of them is not going to return. Whiteside is expected to command a max contract. The center has been an emerging star for the Heat and now he wants to get paid like it. Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun Sentinel reports that is not happening for Miami. The Heat are not expected to hand Whiteside a max contract considering they also need to keep Dwyane Wade and potentially sign another big name in free agency. With their salary cap restraints, Whiteside would have to take a hometown discount.
If the Heat either do not plan on keeping Whiteside or do not believe the center will re-sign, trading him could be an option in order to capitalize on his value. The Heat could get a great return for Whiteside. The issue is that they would then lose a big piece of their team and potentially fall out of favor in the standings. Team owner Pat Riley made it clear that any report about trading Whiteside is false.
"I can guarantee you there have been no discussions about the BS that you have read in the newspapers the last couple of days," Riley said, via SI.com. "I like our team and I want to see where we're headed."
Deng is another player that could become available. He is not expected to return in the coming season and if packaged with someone else, could get the Heat a nice return as they need better shooters on the court. With Justise Winslow beginning to emerge as a solid talent, the Heat could give the rookie more responsibility and replace Deng. Josh McRoberts could be someone to replace Whiteside, but that would leave the Heat down on quality depth.
The Heat have been linked to big names in free agency. According to ESPN.com, they plan on being in place for Kevin Durant like everyone else. They could also look at DeMar DeRozan as an option or Al Horford especially is Whiteside leaves. The Heat will have a hard time giving Wade and Whiteside their money which is why a trade makes sense at the deadline.