The Miami Heat surprised many this season. After getting Kyle Lowry in the offseason, some believed the Heat would be good, but no one expected this. They are standing at 37-20, alone atop the Eastern Conference, and look primed to repeat their 2020 run to the NBA Finals.
At last week's trade deadline, the Heat only did the KZ Okpala deal to avoid the luxury tax, but they should have been a bit more active as the title race heats up. More specifically, not getting an additional piece in the frontcourt might end up being Miami's biggest deadline mistake as it chases another title.
Heat’s biggest 2022 NBA trade deadline mistake
It is important to mention the Heat are still an elite team. Their starting lineup consists of Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, PJ Tucker, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Tyler Herro is a leading candidate for Sixth Man of the Year, while the likes of Caleb Martin, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent have cemented themselves as quality reserves. Even when Markiff Morris returns to the court from injury, though, the Heat's frontcourt will be severely limited. They do have surprisingly good undrafted rookie Omer Yurtseven, who had some great games this season, including a 22-point, 16-rebound outing against the Sacramento Kings in early January.
Still, even with Yurtseven and top backup center Dewayne Dedmon, the Heat's lineup is guard-heavy and severely lacking in the frontcourt. One saving grace might be that Butler, Tucker and Morris have the versatility to guard power forwards and centers, but with Morris' return date unknown, the Heat would've been well served by adding some reinforcements at the deadline some serious reinforcements. Overall, they are top-10 in the league in both offensive and defensive rating, but they need to have a wider rotation so their older players, like Lowry or Butler, are not running on fumes for the postseason.
When it comes to what was available on the market, there were a few options. One of them was picked up by a fellow Eastern Conference rival in the Charlotte Hornets. They sent two players making a marginal nightly impact to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Montrezl Harrell, a great backup center in Montrezl Harrell from the Washington Wizards. Of course, it is entirely possible the Heat didn't have assets the Wizards wanted or refused to part with a current member of their rotation in potential negotiations regarding Harrell. However, he's a double-double machine off the bench, and his skill set would've been a perfect fit for the Heat's bench group.
Another possible option was Robin Lopez, who surely would've come the cheapest of Miami's targets. He is currently stuck riding the bench with the Orlando Magic, playing behind Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba. While not ideal for Miami stylistically, Lopez would not have cost almost anything and been another veteran who could hold it down in case of injury or needed rest for Adebayo.
If the Heat wanted to go younger, a risky option could have been Marvin Bagley III. The Sacramento Kings almost destroyed his career with inconsistent messages about his playing time and overall status in the organizational hierarchy, but he will be looking to revive it in the Detroit Pistons. Now, this move would have been very risky. The Heat would likely have had to give up at least one player and a second-round pick for a player who hasn't made a positive impact throughout his career. However, Bagley is still young, with rare quick-twitch athleticism, nascent shooting potential and a desire to showcase his talent.
Overall, the Heat still have a great chance to make a deep run in the postseason. Last season's sweep in the first round to the eventual-champion Milwaukee Bucks is no indicator of where Miami stands in the Eastern Conference pecking order as this year's playoffs fast approach. Erik Spoelstra's team is a title contender. However, the Heat could still have benefited from adding some proven depth up front at the 2022 NBA trade deadline.