The Heat traded reserve center Joel Anthony to the rival Celtics on Wednesday and hours later Greg Oden made his long-awaited debut for the team.
In a three-team deal that sent Golden State guard Toney Douglas to Miami, the Heat dealt Anthony to Boston along with a pair of draft picks. It was a busy day in Washington for the Heat, which also activated Oden for the first time this season.
With team president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg on hand, Oden entered the game with 6:03 left in the second quarter and delivered a pair of dunks in the first half. It was Oden’s first appearance in a regular-season basketball game in more than four years and he received a round of high-fives from teammates after his first five minutes of work. Oden then started for the Heat in place of Shane Battier to begin the second half.
Anthony, who had been with the Heat for seven years, went through the Heat’s shootaround on Wednesday morning at Georgetown University before being informed of the trade. The team then learned of the trade while eating lunch.
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Trading away Anthony’s contract of $3.8 million for the next two seasons could potential save the Heat $16 million overall when factoring in the luxury tax.
“In today’s game, in the law of economics of today’s game, in the punitive nature of a team that’s trying to win, and trying to sign players to win, has changed the landscape a little bit in how you think,” Riley said. “Ten years ago, if you wanted to waive a player, you’d waive a player. You have to give that some thought now, especially if you’re a team that’s $20 million over the tax.
“This was not a money move. This was a flexibility move. And I think we’ve been pretty good over the years in trying to find players midseason that can really help you going down the stretch, so we’ll see where this goes.”
The Heat added Chris Andersen to the rotation at this point last season.
Dwyane Wade called Anthony’s trade “unfortunate.”
“I haven’t been around too much where it happens in the middle of a road trip when you’re sitting at lunch,” Wade said. “You realize at that moment that it could be anybody. The business of it really shows its face. You feel sorry for the guy who has to go through it.”
Said LeBron James: “It’s tough to see a brother go.”
The loss of Anthony, known as “Doc” by his teammates, affected the Heat’s overall mood before Wednesday’s game and it showed in the first quarter. The Heat fell behind 43-18 after the first quarter.
Anthony played a total of 37 minutes for the Heat this season. Included in his trade to Boston were two draft picks, including one lottery-protected draft pick the Heat acquired from the Sixers. The first-round pick will turn into two second round picks if the Sixers fail to make the playoffs this season and next season.
“It’s part of the business that you don’t like,” Wade said of Anthony’s trade. “He’s someone who has been there and has done nothing wrong from a sense of Joel coming in and putting in the work every day and went from a starter to not playing.”
Anthony and Douglas had 48 hours to report to their new teams after the trade was finalized on Wednesday. The Heat plays in Philadelphia on Friday. Douglas, who played collegiately at Florida State, was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2009 draft before being moved to the Knicks. Douglas played for the Rockets and Kings last season before emerging as Steph Curry’s backup for the Warriors this season. Golden State received Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks in the three-team trade.
“I don’t know how he fits in yet,” Wade said of Douglas. “I haven’t been able to look at that yet and process it, but, obviously, he’s a competitor and a guy who has always done a great job of filling in when his number has been called, whether it’s the one or the two, a guy who can score the basketball in multiple ways.”
Said Riley: “Toney Douglas has always been in our radar …We knew him from Florida State and scouted him heavily and probably that year maybe even thought about picking him, so he has always been in our mind a little bit. This could be a great opportunity for him.
“But I think the whole thing is staying in tune…You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but we have a good six weeks to keep trying to figure this thing out.”
In other words, the Heat might not be finished making moves. There has been speculation that the Heat could pursue center Andrew Bynum, a free agent who was recently released by the Cleveland Cavaliers, but Riley said “there is nothing going on or happening with that situation.”