Barry Jackson

Why didn’t the Heat keep Oregon center Bol Bol? Here’s the answer

“We’re getting younger. Finally,” says Miami Heat president about team

Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media after the NBA basketball team's draft party, early on June 21, 2019, in Miami.
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Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media after the NBA basketball team's draft party, early on June 21, 2019, in Miami.

Why did the Heat trade second-round draft pick Bol Bol to Denver instead of trying to develop an intriguing 7-2 prospect who averaged 21 points and 7.9 rebounds for Oregon last season?

Simple: When Miami made the selection at No. 44 late Thursday night, it was no longer the Heat’s pick.

Here’s what happened: When the Heat decided to trade three future second-round picks to Indiana for the 32nd selection, Miami did it with the intent of selecting Stanford forward KZ Okpala, who was the highest-rated player on Miami’s board. Indiana had obtained that draft pick from Phoenix in a trade earlier Thursday.

After making that selection of Okpala, the Heat quickly decided that it did not want, or need, a second second-round pick. So Miami immediately dealt that pick — which had been acquired on Wednesday from Atlanta — to Denver, according to a league source. That happened long before the 44th pick was on the clock.

When the Heat selected Bol Bol at 44, it was making that selection for the Nuggets because Miami had agreed, about 20 minutes earlier, to trade that selection to Denver without any knowledge of who would be available at 44, and with no desire to add a second second-round pick to its roster.

The Heat cannot comment on Okpala until the trade is completed July 6, but Miami is intrigued by his athleticism, three-point shooting and ability to defend multiple positions.

The Heat, of course, could have selected Bol at No. 32 but had Okpala rated higher. Nearly every team in the league ultimately passed at least once on Bol, who at one point was considered a potential lottery pick.

One veteran NBA scout said teams had concerns about Bol’s maturity, defensive intensity and a foot injury that sidelined him last season. Also, his college career was limited to nine games, a small sample size.

Incidentally, in return for sending the 44th pick to Denver, Miami obtained both cash and a 2022 second-round pick, which has particular value because that’s the year when the NBA is expected to begin permitting high school players to go directly to the NBA instead of spending at least one year in college.

The Heat will have a first- and a second-round pick in that draft, which is expected to be particularly deep because of the anticipated rule change.

Miami will have its first-round pick in 2020, but the 2021 unprotected first-round pick — initially traded to Phoenix in the Goran Dragic deal — now belongs to the Clippers.

Here’s a look at the players the Heat added after the draft.

Here’s what analysts and scouts are saying about the Heat’s second-round pick KZ Okpala.

Here’s what analysts and scouts are saying about the Heat’s first-round pick Tyler Herro.

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