The Miami Heat are a franchise that is never shy to make a splash. However, they have been eerily silent this offseason. Their most notable moves were resigning Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin in free agency. The Heat also drafted Nikola Jovic who impressed greatly in the summer league.
Following a year in which the Heat fell just one win short of the NBA Finals, it is clear they are looking for final pieces to their team. They have continually been linked to the Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell rumors which have seemingly brought the NBA to a standstill. Adding one of these superstars would certainly change the outlook for the Heat and increase their chances greatly. However, the franchise may have a backup plan if neither of these trades comes to fruition.
The Heat are rumored to be targeting Gordon Hayward as a backup plan in the trade market. Hayward has been an effective player when healthy but has struggled to remain on the court in recent years. Last season with the Hornets he played in 49 games and averaged 15.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.6 assists before being shut down for the year with an ankle injury. While KD and Mitchell will certainly remain the priority, here are three reasons why Gordon Hayward makes sense for the Heat as a backup plan.
3 reasons Gordon Hayward trade makes sense for Heat
Replacing PJ Tucker
Championship windows do not remain open for long and teams must capitalize on opportunities. Following an impressive season in which a massive amount of playoff success was achieved, Miami must continue to build. PJ Tucker elected to leave in free agency and signed a contract with the Sixers. While Tucker’s numbers may not jump off the page, he was an incredibly important part of the Heat last year. The organization has not properly replaced him and this will be shown next season.
While the playstyles of Tucker and Gordon Hayward are certainly different, the Hornets’ wing would be a positive addition based on their current options. Using Hayward as a stretch forward in lineups could carry a similar success to what was seen with Tucker, although the defense would admittedly take a step back. Regardless, the Heat must do something to fill this hole and Gordon Hayward is one of the better options on the market.
There was a point in time when Gordon Hayward was regarded extremely highly around the NBA. He made an all-star game in 2016-17 and has eclipsed 15 points per game in seven of the last nine seasons. Injuries have certainly been an issue with the veteran but his value is likely at an all-time low. Targeting him at this stage sets the Heat up for a low-risk high-reward transaction if Hayward can get back to playing like the player he was in his prime.
He is still only 32 years old and should have several years of production left in the tank. In all likelihood, Hayward’s best years are behind him but he still could certainly prove to be a better player than he has shown in recent years. His style of play also is one that would translate well in a more minimal role. The Butler product is a career 37.1% three-point shooter and has shot over 38% from deep in each of the last three seasons. Giving him a change in scenery could prove to be the best thing for Gordon Hayward.
While typically the level of talent is the only consideration when making trades, the financial aspect is just as important. Gordon Hayward has two years remaining on his contract and is set to make just over a $30 million a year. This is not an ideal price at this stage of his career but one that could become valuable when looking at future trades. He is not regarded as the level of negative asset as some players with this type of deal. Attaching a rookie contract to Haywards (such as Nikola Jovic) along with draft picks is an excellent starting point for a trade. This would get the Heat the market for a max-level contract which likely is their ultimate goal.
Hayward’s contract will be even more appealing next season when his contract is expiring. Teams often view this as a way to clear cap space moving forward. If a trade is not found the Heat can allow Hayward’s contract to expire and open up $30+ million cap space following the 2023-24 season.
Miami will surely keep their eyes on the prize in targeting Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell. However, there are worse options that landing Gordon Hayward given the team’s needs and future considerations. Don’t expect them to pull the trigger on this until the larger options settle, but don’t rule out Gordon Hayward suiting up for the Miami Heat next year.