After starting the season with an even 10-10 slate, the Miami Heat have won 15 of their last 23 games, including a seven-game winning run, to put them in the fourth spot of the Eastern Conference standings with a 25-18 record. Without a legitimate All-Star on their roster, head coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad has surprised basketball fans again as they try to stay in the playoff hunt entering the second half of the season.
The Heat’s rumor mill has been quiet for the past few months as the steady core of Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, and Hassan Whiteside noiselessly and effectively do their jobs.
However, with Waiters now out for the rest of the season to undergo a left ankle surgery, rumors abound that Miami is “expected to be active” as next month’s NBA trade deadline draws near, Clutch Points reported.
At the moment, the Heat’s best trade assets are its two leaders, Dragic and Whiteside, while a few of their young players, like Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson, could also command interest in the market.
Bleacher Report noted that Miami has “zero interest” in trading Dragic, who is the Heat’s leader in scoring (17.2 ppg) and assists (4.8 ppg). The 31-year-old Slovenian does not only lead the team’s offensive charge on the court, but he is also their locker room mentor, which would explain the management’s reluctance to trade him.
The report said that when it comes to a “realistic trade package,” the Heat would most likely dangle an offer that includes Whiteside and Winslow to potentially make a “huge talent upgrade” in order to make sure they get back in the postseason this year.
Enter the Los Angeles Lakers, who are reportedly seeking to trade two of their own young guys in Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson.
FanSided’s Sir Charles In Charge blog suggested a trade that would send Whiteside and Winslow to the Lakers in exchange for Randle, Clarkson, Josh Hart, and veteran wingman Corey Brewer.
The blog said that the Heat would get a “good return” in the deal with Randle potentially starting at the four or five spot while Clarkson would be their premier off-the-bench scorer, which is the same role he performs with the Lakers. Waiters is the Heat’s second-leading scorer, and with him out, Clarkson’s offensive skills would be much-needed.
Meanwhile, the Lakers would get a massive upgrade at the center spot with Whiteside on their side. Winslow, who like Whiteside is a known defensive specialist, would be a welcome addition to the team’s young bunch. The pair would immediately improve the Lakers’ defense, which is something they are struggling at right now, the blog said.
However, one potential issue for the Lakers is Whiteside’s mammoth contract. The former NBA rebounding and blocks leader is only in the second year of his four-year, $98 million mega-deal with Miami.
Whiteside will carry a cap hit of $25.4 million next season, per Spotrac, which would hamper the Lakers’ plans to sign two maximum salary players this summer.