When it comes to working in the Collegiate Wing of Miami Heat Scouting, there are a few sure things. However, until February 9, Adam Simon and his staff were confident they would be on the lookout for the first round of the NBA draft on June 23.
Now, as is often the case with Heat first-round picks in the Pat Riley era, there’s no guarantee a prospect will wear a Heat hat at Barclays Center.
As part of the Jimmy Butler acquisition scam in the 2019 off-season, the Heat sent a lottery-protected future first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers, which was eventually sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Since at the time this pick could be used immediately after the 2023 draft, it meant that the Heat could not trade their 2022 first round player under an NBA rule that prevents teams from being left without consecutive future first round picks.
And then came Feb. 9, when the Heat worked out a tricky pair of deals with the Thunder that offloaded KZ forward Okpalu and pushed back the original date for that Oklahoma City redirected first-round pick to 2025.
All of a sudden, the Heat were given the opportunity—and remain free—to trade their upcoming first-round pick.
So, on June 23, the Hit will be chosen at number 27. . . or maybe not at all, as Trader Pat is open for business again.
“Well, we still have the pickaxe,” Simon said, which remains one for the moment. “It was just a matter of when we had to choose and remove the restriction. We just thought it was a great opportunity to give us the flexibility to use it in different ways.”
Flexibility could make Simon’s months as VP of basketball for the Heat a moot point.
This is the life that Simon and his staff are familiar with.
Last year, the Heat didn’t have a pick in either round.
If this year’s first round is played, that will also be the case as their 2022 second round was played earlier.
In fact, since Riley’s tenure as president of the Heat began after the 1995 draft, the Heat went out of the draft without a first-round pick in 2021, 18, 16, 13, 12, 10, 09, 06, ’01, 2000, and ’98.
In some cases, a player was selected by the Heat in the first round and then immediately dealt out on draft night. The Heat could do it again next week. If so, the Heat would immediately be eligible to trade their 2023 first-round pick.
In 11 of Riley’s first 26 drafts, no first-round players were drafted to South Florida. Among those used for the acquisition were Alonzo Morning, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and, yes, Butler.
Ironically, in order for Riley to be relieved of his former coaching duties, his first move on the team was to actually trade a first-round pick from the Heat in 1995 to the New York Knicks.
Soon Riley’s hands will be tied again. As for the Thunder, under revised pick conditions, either due to a lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick or an unprotected 2026 first-round pick, the Heat are currently unable to trade their first 24th, 25th, 26th or 27th. – round timber.
So, if the trigger finger starts to itch before the first round, such a deal should be done either in this year’s draft or next year’s draft. . . or the 2028 project.
So, yes, Simon and his scouting partners Keith Askins and Eric Amsler are very focused on the current 27th overall pick in the Heat draft, but also understand that it’s somewhat of a moving target. . . or potentially disappearing.
“We’re trying to be the best to fill the boxes and collect as many as we can,” Simon said when potential Heat players have been training at the FTX Arena over the past few weeks. “We have all of our intelligence reports and all the information we have, but you can’t get everything you need in terms of training and interviews for the guys at the top.
“So, yes, we are focused on 27, but that also means we could go up, save the peak and come back. This gives us options. We didn’t have a choice last year. We needed to prepare if we could get in, and we ended up focusing on guys who weren’t going to be drafted. We could do it again.”