Unsuccessful in attempts to trade for a rotation player before Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline, the Miami Heat instead went the other direction, dumping Jarnell Stokes and Brian Roberts to drop below the luxury tax threshold.
Meanwhile, the Heat was awaiting an update on Chris Bosh’s status after he was diagnosed with a blood clot several days ago. Bosh met with a doctor in Boston on Thursday and entered the meeting feeling hopeful of being able to play this season, if cleared by doctors to do so, and with the expectation he would make a full recovery.
Dealing Stokes to New Orleans and Roberts to Portland left the Heat with 13 players, two under the league maximum. And with Bosh and Tyler Johnson sidelined and Hassan Whiteside suspended for one game, Miami will have no more than 10 players available for Friday’s game in Atlanta.
What’s more, Dwyane Wade sat out part of practice Thursday with knee soreness. Though Wade hopes to play against the Hawks, nobody could say that with certainty.
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The Heat, which ranks 28th in three-point accuracy, tried to acquire a quality shooter before the trade deadline — with Portland’s Gerald Henderson, Phoenix’s Mirza Teletovic, Denver’s Randy Foye and Sacramento’s Omri Casspi among those explored — but lacked the assets to do it. By league rule, the Heat was not permitted to trade a first-round pick because it already owes three future first-rounders to other teams.
The Heat hopes a quality player shakes free via buyout. Players must receive buyouts by March 1 to be eligible for the playoffs with another team.
Forwards Steve Novak (Denver) and David Lee (Boston) are among those reportedly in line for buyouts, and Wade suggested on Twitter that he would love for Novak to join the Heat. The Heat would be interested if Joe Johnson gets a buyout from the Nets, but that’s uncertain.
Unsigned former Heat forward Dorell Wright would have interest in returning to Miami, but the Heat had made no attempt to sign him as Thursday afternoon.
The Heat began the season facing a tax payment of more than $20 million. But by trading Mario Chalmers in November, and by dealing Chris Anderson, Stokes and Roberts this week, Miami erased its entire tax obligation.
Miami now can sign a player to the veteran’s minimum without fearing significant tax ramifications, though the Heat would need to wait a couple of weeks to sign players to stay below the tax line. Staying below that threshold gives the Heat added flexibility in future sign-and-trades and use of salary cap exceptions.
The Heat traded a 2021 second-round pick to Portland to dump Roberts’ contract, with Miami receiving a $2.8 million trade exception in return. Roberts’ Heat tenure lasted less than two days, including Thursday’s practice.
The Heat agreed to pay the Pelicans $700,000 for their willingness to take Stokes, and the conditional 2018 second-round pick that New Orleans included in the deal likely will never be forwarded to the Heat.
As for on-court matters, Luol Deng said he expects to receive substantial minutes at power forward in Bosh’s absence. That likely would leave Justise Winslow as the starting small forward and just three backup wing players: Gerald Green, Beno Udrih and Josh Richardson.
“We’re missing 20 points a game in Chris,” Dwyane Wade said. “We’ve got to figure it out. Until we get in a game, we’re not going to understand the void of missing Chris.”
Asked if he can be the 2006 Wade in Bosh’s absence, Wade said: “I can be the 2016 Dwyane Wade. I don’t like the 2006 thing, personally. If more is put on my plate … to make more plays for guys or score more points, I’ll try my best to do it.”
The Heat, which began the season with six natural power rotation players, will have only three available Friday: Amar’e Stoudemire, Udonis Haslem and Josh McRoberts.
The Heat (29-24) enters the post All-Star break schedule at No. 5 in the East, two games behind No. 3 Boston, one behind No. 4 Atlanta and 6.5 behind No. 2 Toronto but just one game ahead of No. 6 Indiana.
Even before Bosh learned of his blood clots, the Heat’s inconsistency prompted Deng to ask last week: “Who are we? Who is the Miami Heat?”
There’s appreciably more uncertainty now, with Bosh awaiting clarity on his status.
“My leadership, U.D.’s leadership, Luo’s leadership are going to be big at this time,” Wade said.
HEAT AT HAWKS
When, where: 8 p.m., Philips Arena, Atlanta.
TV, radio: SUN; WAXY (790), WAQI (710).
Series: Heat leads 59-47.
Scouting report: The Heat leads the season series 2-1 but will be without Chris Bosh and suspended Hassan Whiteside. Miami will have only 10 players available.