Best Potential Trade Packages to Get Jimmy Butler Some Help
Jimmy Butler signed up for this.
He had an option to re-up with the Philadelphia 76ers, a 51-win powerhouse that went seven games (and four bounces) with the eventual NBA champs. He opted instead to join the Miami Heat, who lost their all-time leading scorer to retirement and haven't made the playoffs in two of the past three seasons.
He knew he was downgrading his supporting cast, but maybe Miami can change that.
With one win-now pickup completed, we're helping the Heat make another with five trade ideas to bulk up Butler's supporting cast.
The Oft-Discussed Blockbuster
Miami Heat Receive: Chris Paul, Andre Roberson, 2021 first-round pick (their own)
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Duncan Robinson
Yes, we are talking Chris Paul and the Heat again, and guess what? We're not the only ones. The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Monday that Miami maintains "a level of interest" in the nine-time All-Star and banana boat crew member.
This makes sense, as CP3's landing in South Beach was maybe the only offseason domino that didn't drop. He's cut from the same ubercompetitive cloth as Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. Paul would answer needs for a second scorer and primary playmaker.
This should've happened already. The clubs couldn't decide on pick compensation this summer, as Miami sought both of its selections that OKC owns: the unprotected first-rounder in 2021 and a lottery-protected first in 2023. That's a big ask even if you acknowledge Paul's remaining contract (three years, $124.1 million) appears to be one of basketball's most burdensome.
While this exchange would only deliver one draft pick, it includes lockdown defender Andre Roberson, helping offset the loss of Justise Winslow. Plus, Paul's deal might age better than most think. His stats might have suffered in Houston—where he and James Harden couldn't get comfortable alongside one another—and he still finished last campaign ranked fourth among point guards in real plus-minus.
OKC's motivations would be mostly financial since a rebuilder has no business committing $38 million-plus over each of the next three seasons to a 34-year-old. But Winslow would be a long-term keeper—OKC's future defense is all limbs, length and versatility—and maybe Duncan Robinson will become interesting.
Goran Dragic could assist with the development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and be flipped for more assets as a deadline rental.
The Other OKC Option
Miami Heat Receive: Danilo Gallinari
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Justise Winslow, Meyers Leonard, 2022 second-round pick (from 76ers or Denver Nuggets)
The Heat are built to work defensive magic with Butler, but offense is a different discussion. Miami ranked 26th in efficiency on that end last season, while Wade, who made two starts the entire campaign, paced the group in usage percentage and finished second in points per game.
In other words, this roster lacks a No. 2 option. Getting Danilo Gallinari could change that.
Long a tantalizing blend of size and skill, the 6'10" scoring swingman had everything fall into place last season. He not only poured in a career-best 19.8 points per game, but he also did so with a brilliant 46.3/43.3/90.4 shooting slash. He became just the eighth player in NBA history to average at least 19 points and two triples per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 43 from deep during the 2010s.
Usable as both a supersized 3 and a fast(ish) 4, he could increase the versatility of a team always open to positionless innovation. Even better, he'd do that without impacting future finances, since his $22.6 million salary is expiring.
While the Thunder can't have the 31-year-old Gallinari in their long-term plans, they can set a significant trade price on him. Every win-now shopper can surely use scoring help, especially if it comes free of lasting contract commitments.
That's why Winslow would again leave South Florida for the Sooner State, giving OKC an incredible defensive outlook. Joining him with Gilgeous-Alexander and Terrance Ferguson would form a part of the Stone Wall Construction 101 curriculum.
Meyers Leonard would also change addresses to space the floor for Gilgeous-Alexander and attract a space-challenged contender later.
Adding a Champion
Miami Heat Receive: Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell
Toronto Raptors Receive: Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr.
Kyle Lowry has embraced the Heat #Culture without ever being exposed to it. The Philadelphia native is as tough as they come, and he's still living the lunch-pail life even after making five consecutive All-Star appearances.
"He's a bulldog," former Raptors teammate Danny Green said, per The Ringer's Dan Devine. "He's a pit bull down there, and he's going to take charges. He's going to get rebounds. He's going to box people out. He's going to do the dirty work."
Lowry is also going to average something in the neighborhood of 17 points and seven assists, shoot threes at an above-average clip and pester opposing point guards at the defensive end. He finished fifth among point guards in RPM this past season, and that was actually his worst ranking since 2014-15.
With his 34th birthday looming in March and his contract expiring shortly thereafter, he's a win-right-now pickup. But the Heat are almost always thinking about the present, and Butler's addition would only solidify that.
Powell joins the transaction to help replace Winslow's defensive presence on the perimeter and possibly improve the spacing. His three-point percentages have been all over the map (two at 40-plus, two below 33), but his mechanics and success at the stripe (career 80.7 percent) are promising.
The Raptors would accept their fate as Kawhi Leonard-less rebuilders and add to their expanding wing collection with Winslow, a turbo-charged version of their Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson additions. Derrick Jones Jr. would make this frontcourt even faster and more explosive. With Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby already in place, Toronto could be assembling an army of do-it-all stoppers.
The expiring deals of Dragic and Leonard would ensure Toronto still clears most of the money Lowry's would have cleared, and one or both might become a trade chip between now and February.
The Beal Deal
Miami Heat Receive: Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans
Washington Wizards Receive: Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo
Bradley Beal sits atop the Heat's realistic wish list as an in-prime star who could form a lasting foundation with Butler. This would require Washington's cooperation and Miami's willingness to deplete its assets, but why can't this happen if those boxes are ever checked?
Beal has yet to sign the three-year, $111 million extension offer that's been on the table since July. That alone isn't reason to panic—it's in his best financial interest to wait—but it's enough to make the Wizards uncomfortable, especially when he wants to win and has almost no chance to do so in the District.
While Washington has him under contract for two more seasons, waiting can be a dangerous game. If he ever demands a trade, the Wizards would lose leverage instantly. If they take this to the wire, they would risk losing him for nothing.
So if Washington becomes open to a deal at some point, Miami must be prepared to put everything on the table. As Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald noted, "any Heat offer simply for Beal...likely would need to include the Heat's three-best assets (Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro) plus an expiring contract."
That's steep but justifiable since Beal is a big-time talent, and Miami must use prospects in place of draft picks. Beal's shooting, go-to scoring, secondary playmaking and perimeter defense make him a hand-in-hand fit with Butler. Either can be the Robin to the other's Batman. They'd also both benefit from having Bertans, a 6'10" sniper with a career 40.4 three-point percentage, on the floor.
Is this the best the Wizards can do? That's hard to say, but the offer is far from insulting.
Tyler Herro could be the long-term Beal replacement. Winslow is already what Washington hopes Troy Brown Jr. can become. Bam Adebayo has the agility and versatility to potentially fit alongside Thomas Bryant for the long haul. Dragic might have enough opportunities in a John Wall-less backcourt to emerge as one of this season's top deadline targets.
The High-Risk, High-Reward Megadeal
Miami Heat Receive: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans
Washington Wizards Receive: Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr., 2022 second-round pick (from Philadelphia 76ers or Denver Nuggets)
That's a ton of moving parts and, more importantly, an incredible amount of contract dollars changing hands. But if a Beal-to-Miami trade does go down, this might come closest to making everyone happy. The Wizards would escape John Wall's worrisome four years and $171.1 million remaining, while the Heat would avoid sacrificing Herro and Adebayo.
As hard as it might be to envision Miami taking on Wall's contract, that might be the club's cleanest path to Beal.
"That scenario has been seriously discussed inside the Heat," Jackson reported, "and there's sentiment to do that, because of how much the Heat loves Beal and because of the internal belief that Miami can get Wall back to All-Star level following his ruptured Achilles, which is expected to sideline him this upcoming season."
The love for Beal is understandable.
He is 26 years old, cost-controlled for the next two seasons and wildly productive. Last season, he was one of six players to average 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. The rest of that list reads like an MVP ballot: Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and LeBron James.
The belief in Wall's bounce-back ability might be a little rich in optimism, given the rocky track record of players returning from an Achilles tear. That said, he was probably playing at a higher level than most realized before the injury (20.7 points and 8.7 assists per game). Even if he's not quite as dynamic, he might fit in a third-wheel role with Butler and Beal.
Washington would receive a get-out-of-salary-cap-hell-free card with only limited long-term money coming back, the most significant of which is tied to Winslow, who's also the crown jewel of the incoming package. If he becomes the next starting point guard, this group would have tons of size, length and athleticism to throw at opposing offenses.
Jones might be the only other keeper, although a healthy Waiters could conceivably attain that status, too. Dragic and Leonard could become trade candidates this season, while James Johnson might emerge as one in the next.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.