The Miami Heat currently sit at 9-20, which is the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference. Erik Spoelstra’s club also sits five games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the team has lost eight of its last 10 games. With things trending downward, could the Heat be ready to sell by the February NBA trade deadline?
When team president Pat Riley mishandled the situation with Dwyane Wade this past offseason, the Heat were left up the river without a paddle. The only established stars left on the roster were point guard Goran Dragic and center Hassan Whiteside. Those two guys have held up their end of the bargain this season as Dragic has averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists, while Whiteside has put up 18.1 and 14.8 rebounds per game.
Goran Dragic’s last 12 games: 22.6 points, 7.8 assists, 4.4 rebounds on 48.6 FG% and 41.0% from 3. pic.twitter.com/gOAcurzuie
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) December 19, 2016
Unfortunately, Miami doesn’t have anyone else to turn to on the roster. Dion Waiters has been decent as he’s averaged 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game, but he’s only appeared in 16 contests due to injury. Waiters also only has an 11.0 PER, which is one of the worst on the team.
Guard Tyler Johnson has shown flashes coming off the bench, but he’s yet to show the consistency that the Miami Heat need to see on a nightly basis. Johnson is averaging 13.4 points, 4.6 points, and 3.1 assists per game, but his last two games are a perfect example of his struggles with consistency.
On Tuesday, Johnson scored 32 points, pulled down five rebounds, and dished out three assists in 38 minutes as the Heat fell 136-130 at home to the Orlando Magic. The prior game, Tyler logged 30 minutes against the Boston Celtics, but only registered five points, six rebounds, and three assists while turning the ball over four times.
Wayne Ellington, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and James Johnson are all averaging double-digits scoring for Miami as well, but each player struggles with consistency, just like Tyler Johnson. Aside from Dragic and Whiteside, Spoelstra and Riley have no idea what they’re going to get from their roster on a nightly basis.
With the Miami Heat seemingly a long way from contending, it would seem to be beneficial for Riley to sell off as many assets as possible before the NBA trade deadline in February. Whiteside is likely untouchable as he just signed a max contract this offseason, but Dragic would likely command a decent return for the Heat.
— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) December 20, 2016
Goran is just 30-years-old and would provide a major boost at point guard for any team in the playoff race. The Orlando Magic, Sacramento Kings, Milwaukee Bucks, and Denver Nuggets are all teams currently on the fringe of the playoff race who could use a point guard such as Dragic to help in their postseason push.
According to the Miami Herald, Dragic would prefer to stay in Miami, if at all possible.
“I love Miami,” he told outlet. “And I want to stay here.”
“I feel like I’m back — back to my old days,” Dragic said. “I feel like when I’m aggressive I’m at my best. I already felt comfortable last year in the playoffs after the Charlotte game. I started to feel really well. This summer helped a lot. I came better prepared. Probably, I’m in the best shape of my life physically.”
While Goran may prefer to stay with the Heat, he could end up being too valuable for the team to keep. After all, the Miami Heat are years away from competing for a championship, and the return for Goran Dragic could end up being what puts the club in position to win a title down the road.
[Featured Image by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]