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The challenge presented to Adam Simon and the Miami Heat’s collegiate scouting staff was relatively straightforward from Pat Riley: Here’s no money, now go out and get something nice. Actually, get two.
The phrasing wasn’t quite that cavalier, but with the Heat lacking a pick in either round of the July 29 NBA draft, Riley at season’s end nonetheless stated, “We don’t have any picks, but I can guarantee you we’ll probably get a couple of good players out of this year’s draft, somehow.”
No, Simon, the Heat’s vice president of basketball operations, did not throw his hands up in the air. He simply took it as a challenge thrown down out of respect for what the Heat previously have been able to accomplish in similar circumstances over the years.
“It makes our scouting staff feel good,” Simon said of Riley’s reasoning. “Our boss believes in us, that we’re good at identifying talent and trying to get them and recruit them and then our coaching staff can develop them.
“That’s the whole part of trying to find those types of players. It’s an organizational thing. The agents out there know that we do a really good job developing, our coaching staff. So I think Pat wants us to find a couple of good, young players. And that’s the job at hand.”
It is a task easier accomplished when selecting Bam Adebayo or Tyler Herro in the lottery. But with Riley regularly moving draft pieces for proven veterans, it hardly stands as a unique moment.
Among the undrafted the Heat have secured and developed in recent seasons have been Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Gabe Vincent and Chris Silva, and before that, Rodney McGruder, Derrick Jones Jr. and Tyler Johnson.
But it also doesn’t necessarily mean springing into action after 60 players are drafted in the two rounds.
Because of that, Simon’s staff also has been scouting the first 60, with the Heat able to trade into the draft or buy a pick, with $5.6 million in allocated cash still available to spend on acquiring such a July 29 selection.
“It’s like trying to shoot a moving target,” Simon said. “You just don’t know where you’ll be able to jump in and what the cost will be. And so, our job is to prepare our order, our ranking. And as we get closer, and as we start finding out what the price may be, then there is a chance that we can get into the draft. So we have to be ready for it.”
Such a move, however, would come at a cost. And that makes it a delicate balance. For as much as scouts can fall in love with a prospect, there still is the matter of approaching Riley and General Manager Andy Elisburg about trading an asset for a pick, or approaching CEO Nick Arison to spend some or all of that $5.6 million on a pick.
“I’m not trying to do something just to do something for myself,” Simon said. “We’re doing things for the organization and we’re making decisions as an organization. I don’t need to sit there and try to pull a rabbit out of my hat just because I want our scouting staff to try to do something that we don’t need to do.
“But what we do, as a group, including Andy, Pat, of course, and our staff that talk with other teams, is you’re just trying to get a feel of what the price would be to get into the draft.”
In 2019, the Heat cost was three second-round picks for the right to jump in for KZ Okpala at No. 32. As for the purchase of picks, the Golden State Warriors sent $3.5 million to the Chicago Bulls in the 2017 second round for Jordan Bell and the Los Angeles Lakers sent $2.2 million and a future second-round pick to the Orlando Magic in 2019 to jump into the second round to draft Talen Horton-Tucker.
So, Simon said, the key remains be ready for anything, all while facing that Riley mandate.
“Even when we had our pick last year, what would the price be to move up? If you want to go get a player that you don’t think is going to get to you at 20, you’re finding out what the price is,” Simon said, with the Heat taking Precious Achiuwa at No. 20 in their assigned 2020 draft slot. “And as a group, we decide if we’re willing to pay that price, whether it be a future first, a future second, a financial price, one of our players.
“So we have the talks, every front office is talking with each other. And if it makes sense, and we’re prepared for this going in, then we can pull the trigger. If it doesn’t, then we’ll just take the calls and sit on our hands.”
FREE-AGENCY FORECAST: John Hollinger, the former Memphis Grizzlies executive who now works for The Athletic, offered a pair of intriguing Heat free-agency thoughts this week. Of a possible Heat sign-and-trade for Toronto Raptors free-agent guard Kyle Lowry, Hollinger wrote, “a sign-and-trade of Andre Iguodala, KZ Okpala and Achiuwa (a little less than $20 million in combined salary) for Lowry would extend the Heat’s cap room, and the Raptors would walk away with two young frontcourt players.” In another piece, Hollinger offered that through the metrics of his player-rating system, Heat free-agent forward Robinson rates a salary of $23,924,678 next season. Hollinger notes of Robinson, “The numbers say the threat of Duncan Robinson’s shooting is potent enough to make him a fairly devastating offensive player even when he isn’t touching the ball all that much. . . . The key is how insanely efficient Robinson is with his fairly infrequent shots.” Hollinger did note that metrics aside, “paying him in the 20s is probably excessive.”
Miami Heat Source Newsletter
See what’s buzzing about the Miami Heat, including game analysis, roster changes and more inside info.
HIS NAME IS RIO: A constant with Mario Chalmers is that there is no quit, whether it was pushing past consistently getting side eye from LeBron James during the Heat’s Big Three era or now, at 35, prolonging his career both overseas and in the Big3 halfcourt league. So when the former Kansas championship guard saw that LeBron’s Lakers might need a replacement at point guard if Dennis Schroder leaves in free agency, he took to social media recently to volunteer. “Let me get a shot at this,” Chalmers posted on Twitter, “just a workout or let me come play pick up.” No, not going to happen. But even the chance of one more LeBron-Chalmers interaction would create a moment of championship nostalgia. Chalmers last played in the NBA in 2017-18, with the Memphis Grizzlies,
BACK AT IT: Chris Wallace holds a special place in Heat lore, and for more than being traded from the Heat front office to the Boston Celtics in 1997 for a second-round pick (actually a promotion from Heat director of player personnel to Boston general manager). He also gave coach Erik Spoelstra his first NBA job, when he hired him as Heat video coordinator in 1995. Now, after an uneven tenure in the Memphis Grizzlies front office, Wallace has moved on to the Houston Rockets, where he recently was hired as director of scouting. Wallace was Grizzlies general manager when the team hired Spoelstra assistant coach David Fizdale as coach in 2016. Wallace broke into the NBA in 1986 with the Portland Trail Blazers, when Spoelstra’s father, Jon Spoelstra, was an executive there.
ROAST TIME: Heat television host Jason Jackson will host his fourth-annual Jax Celebrity Roast on Oct. 9 at Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood. The event, which benefits the JaxFam Foundation, will roast media personality Dan Le Batard. The Jax Fam Foundation “was established in 2016 to support, empower and fund raise for organizations that are positively impacting the health, education and/or social welfare of underrepresented and under resourced individuals.” Details can be found at jaxcelebrityroast.com.
13. Number Bam Adebayo will wear at the Tokyo Olympics, the same number he has worn with the Heat. Since NBA players began playing in the Olympics in 1992, the USA Basketball number has been worn by Chris Mullin (‘92), Shaquille O’Neal (’96), Antonio McDyess (2000), Tim Duncan (‘04), Chris Paul (’08 ’12) and Paul George (’16).