Here at All U Can Heat, we’ll be running a series in which we build and contemplate (fake) trades between the Miami Heat and all 29 other NBA teams. In part two, a trade with the Denver Nuggets.
The Miami Heat have thus far had a relatively successful summer.
Despite losing out on the Gordon Hayward race, the Heat were able to re-sign their own key free agents Dion Waiters and James Johnson to four-year deals. Furthermore, they also brought in former Boston Celtics’ big man Kelly Olynyk to help solidly the team’s frontcourt, also to a four-year deal.
But the Heat will soon have an important decision to make on a key member of their current rotation. Guard Tyler Johnson was signed to a four-year, $50 million deal in the summer of 2016, after matching the offer made by the Brooklyn Nets. The deal, however, contained a complexity heading down the road.
The Nets included a “poison pill” in their offer, meaning they tried to make it as tough as possible for the Heat to match. With Johnson’s deal, the Nets formulated their offer so Johnson would average $5.8 million in salary over the first two seasons, with that average salary skyrocketing to an average of $19.2 million over the final two years of the deal.
Having completed one season of the deal, the Heat will be well aware of the salary cap ramifications coming their way following the 2017-18 season.
Therefore, being proactive and searching for a potential trading partner will surely be at the forefront of the Heat’s thinking. Not only to offload Johnson’s salary, but also to secure a talented player that can help the team moving forward.
Enter the Denver Nuggets, and their versatile swingman, Will Barton.
Having just completed his fifth season in the league, Barton enters the final year of his current deal, earning $3.5 million. In 60 games last season, Barton posted 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 28.4 minutes per games. Throughout his five seasons, Barton has primarily been used as a spark plug off the bench, starting in just 25 of his 314 career games thus far.
The Nuggets themselves have a number of cap ramifications headed their way in the near future. Guard Gary Harris will be a restricted free agent following the upcoming season, while center Nikola Jokic will follow suit the following summer.
While bringing in Johnson will bring some challenges, the Nuggets have a number of very tradable commodities of their own. These include veteran forward Wilson Chandler, and young point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Packaging these players would help assist the transition of Johnson’s deal, and also re-sign their own key free agents.
Heat get Will Barton
Nuggets get Tyler Johnson
For the Heat, Barton presents a multi-dimensional player who is just 26 years of age. Last season, Barton had 13 games in which scored 20 or more points. the Nuggets posted a 9-4 record over these games. He also had 15 games in which he recorded five or more assists, further illustrating his abilities as a playmaker, and just a catch-and-shoot merchant.
Furthermore, while Barton will be expecting a solid return in his upcoming contract negotiations, he most certainly won’t be earning the $19.2 million average in his next deal.
Overall, this deal gives the Heat two significant benefits. Not only does it enhance their cap flexibility moving forward, it also delivers the Heat a genuinely exciting player who would fit seamlessly into head coach Erik Spoelstra’s “position-less basketball” mantra.