Part one of a three-part series addressing important offseason questions facing the Miami Heat, with the NBA Draft set for Thursday and free agency opening Aug. 2.
The Miami Heat doesn’t have a pick in this year’s NBA Draft because of previous trades, but the front office is preparing like it will make a selection.
While Miami is currently one of four teams without a pick in Thursday’s draft that will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, a Heat contingent spent nearly two weeks in Chicago last month scouting prospects at the draft combine and events surrounding the combine like the G League Elite Camp and agent-run pro days.
“With us not having a pick, we just have to do the best we can with all the information we have,” said Adam Simon, the Heat’s assistant general manager and vice president of basketball operations. “The video that we have, the breakdowns, whatever we’ve seen in person and just try to prepare the best we can.”
The Heat needs to be prepared because, well, it could make a pick Thursday. Miami could trade into the draft or buy a selection with the $5.6 million that it still has available to include in 2020-21 transactions before the NBA calendar flips at the start of August.
It’s worth noting that picks that are purchased come in the second round, as cash can’t be the only asset sent out in a trade for a first-round selection.
Predraft research is important even if the Heat doesn’t acquire a draft pick because it has a summer league roster to fill. The list of undrafted players Miami has signed and developed in recent seasons includes Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Gabe Vincent and Chris Silva, with Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson and Udonis Haslem among the Heat’s past undrafted success stories.
Then there’s the value of simply gathering information on players about to enter the NBA, even if they don’t end up with the Heat.
“In any draft, you’re always going to be prepared for anything,” Simon said. “You’re always going to be prepared to move up. You have to prepare to move up if you can and what are the options to move back if players drop. So you’re always just trying to get your board right, trying to do your ranking. And then obviously as we get closer, you make your calls around the league and see what the price is to get in, whether it’s a future pick or we could buy a pick or if there’s a trade that could happen. So you’re preparing for it.”
For at least part of the Heat’s time in Chicago to scout draft prospects last month, the organization was represented by Simon, team president Pat Riley, general manager Andy Elisburg, coach Erik Spoelstra, senior advisor of basketball operations Chet Kammerer, director of college and pro scouting Keith Askins, director of player personnel Eric Amsler and scouts Jack Fitzgerald and Bob Staak.
“We were there for the entirety, so it made the combine longer,” Simon said of the Heat’s two-week stay in Chicago. “But from our standpoint, it was more efficient. We just got it all done.
“I thought it was good in terms of efficiency. We were already there. Why waste more time running around? And for teams like us that aren’t going to get these guys, that’s a great way for us to take a look at them since they aren’t going to be able to make it down to Miami.”
The Heat has not hosted any predraft workouts at FTX Arena. Currently without a selection, it’s a challenge to convince prospects to prioritize Miami for a workout over other NBA teams with picks.
To make the situation even more complicated, COVID-19 protocols have impacted the way predraft workouts are scheduled. Players must take three days off between workouts and need to provide a negative COVID-19 test before each session, with vaccinated prospects able to bypass COVID-19 testing.
“We could get guys to work out, but we wouldn’t be a priority,” Simon said. “So our thought was just to go to all of the events, see all the players there. Then we potentially could, we’re discussing bringing some guys in [the week before the draft].”
The Heat has been in this situation before, as they also recently went without a pick 2016 and 2018.
What happened to Miami’s selections this year? The Heat’s 2021 first-round pick was dealt as part of the 2015 trade with the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic, and it now belongs to the Oklahoma City Thunder because of other trades. The Heat’s 2021 second-round pick was traded along with Brian Roberts to the Portland Trail Blazers for cash considerations in 2016, and it’s now owned by the Atlanta Hawks.
But the Heat will be ready in case it can acquire a pick in the coming days. Miami will be ready, too, even if it’s left choosing from only undrafted options.
“We’re going to prepare for everything,” Simon emphasized.
Stay tuned for the rest of our three-part series exploring important Heat offseason questions. Part two will be posted on Monday.