Once upon a time, the NBA trade deadline marked a point in the year that doubled as the Black Friday of deal discounts for GMs and Chrissmukkah for die-hard fans of mediocre teams that were one blockbuster move away from getting over the hump.
And sure, even though we knew deep down in our hearts that 99% of those rumored deals were never going to happen, there was always that one percent of hope.
Then, David Stern, being the fun-loving chaperon of a commissioner that he is, allowed an already punitive luxury tax to re-introduce itself in last year's collective bargaining agreement, and now trades are more financially-shaped than ever before.
Which begs the question: are you still reeling from that multi-player deal last week between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies that sent Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first round draft pick for forward Jon Leuer?
Did it knock your socks off as much as finding out that Seth Macfarlane is hosting the Oscars even though Matt Groening didn't host the Golden Globes?
Because, despite the fact that the Miami Heat don't exactly need to make a move in order to defend their title (especially with the recent signing of Chris Andersen), their lopsided bench has been long on outside shooters and short on size all season long.
Their most expendable option is Mike Miller, who has three years remaining on a contract at a clip of $5,800,000+ per.
But in today's bargain-based market, he's a tougher sell than some of the dunks Kenny "The Jet" Smith tries to get us all hot and bothered with during All-Star Weekend.
Nevertheless, here are a few realistic options worth looking at (the following deals were approved via ESPN's NBA Trade Machine):
Miami Heat send Mike Miller to the Utah Jazz for Derrick Favors
For the Heat, Favors would allow Miami to go with a conventional lineup that would enable Chris Bosh to play at his natural power forward position. Furthermore, he would undoubtedly boost the team's overall rebounding, currently ranked last in the league. Against some of the bigger teams in the Eastern conference, such as the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, that could mean the difference between a seven game series and a five game series if the Heat were to meet with either in the playoffs. Lastly, the kicker of this deal is that Favors' contract ends in 2014, also known as the summer of LeBron, when Miami will want to have as many poker chips as possible at their disposal.
For the Jazz, this move is about balancing the roster as well. Fully staffed with Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, and Enis Kanter, the Jazz are short on shooters on the perimeter. While Miller's health is certainly a risk, he would instantly become the best shooter on the roster, making teams pay for giving too much attention to Jefferson and Millsap in the post.
The only question is, would the Jazz prefer to wait until the summer and gamble on Miami using its amnesty clause on Miller?
Miami Heat send Mike Miller to the Denver Nuggets for Timofey Mozgov and Anthony Randolph
For the Heat, it's debatable if Mozgov or Randolph can be considered an upgrade over the likes of Joel Anthony or Udonis Haslem. But his size and one-year contract make it worth the risk. Furthermore, unlike other big men, we know he's more than available on the market. Randolph stands as nothing more than a cap filler with a three-year deal more digestible than what Miller makes.
For the Nuggets, this move would address their need for an outside shooter. According to NBA.com, Denver ranks 28th in the league in three-point percentage. Miller would help improve that shortcoming.
Like the Jazz, the Nuggets stand as a fringe playoff contender in the western conference. But first round stagnancy over the past few seasons and the free fall of the Lakers and Timberwolves has opened up the playoff picture considerably. Are they prepared to make a bold move to advance?
Miami Heat send Mike Miller and Norris Cole to the Phoenix Suns for Marcin Gortat
For the Heat, Marcin Gortat would immediately provide a lift in defense, rebounds, and blocks. His deal also ends in 2014, offering the same kind of financial flexibility that a deal for Favors would.
For the Suns, adding Cole would be a nice piece for a team ready to build for the future. According to rumors, the Suns are ready to clear up space. With Scola already in the fold and unable to be traded, Gortat isn't as necessary as some perimeter help would be. The Suns currently rank 29th in three-point shooting percentage, so adding Miller makes more sense than keeping Gortat.
Buyout options: According to Sun-Sentinel Heat beat writer Ira Winderman, keep an eye out on the buyout status of Samuel Dalembert for the Milwaukee Bucks and Luis Scola of the Phoenix Suns, both of whom are options Miami would be more than interested in.
Worth Noting: Chris Bosh's 12-point, 12-rebound performance Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors in American Airlines Arena was his first double-double in the month of January...The award for garbage minutes player of the month goes to Rashard Lewis, whose minutes have officially been cut in favor of Joel Anthony...The Miami Heat's record at home, 18-3, is third best in the NBA, while their road record of 10-9 is seventh...The Heat's next four games will be on the road. Three of those matches will be against Boston, Indiana and Brooklyn, with at least one expected to see Miami later on in the playoffs. On Miami's last road trip, they finished 3-3. With the New York Knicks only two games behind Miami for best record in the East, and Raymond Felton slated to return any day now, it may be time for the Heat to start playing at a higher gear in preparation for the second half of the season with April not so far around the corner anymore.
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