Goran Dragic wanted to go to Miami, and he got his wish in a six-player trade. But Dragic has an opt-out this summer, and the Heat wouldn’t have given up two first-round picks for him if they weren’t planning on re-signing him. And according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne, they’re expecting to pay a lot of money to keep him around:
The Heat would not have done this trade for Dragic without feeling good that he re-signs this summer. Expectation is he’ll get a 5-year max
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) February 19, 2015
Dragic absolutely makes the Heat better, and making this trade was the right thing to do. He’s a borderline All-Star in the West, and Miami is upgrading from the dumpster fire that was the Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole rotation in the backcourt. Playing with another guard as dynamic and ball-dominant as Dragic could also extend Dwyane Wade’s career, which is a major concern for the Heat given his health concerns in recent years.
But a five-year max deal worth upwards of $100 million seems steep, even with the salary cap expected to rise in 2016 with the influx of new TV money. He went to one of only a handful of teams (the Knicks and Lakers being the others) that isn’t already set at point guard, so he could command that kind of money. But even if the salary cap in two years is north of $90 million, the Heat will be paying Chris Bosh $22.1 million that season, meaning Dragic and Bosh together could equal almost half the cap.
That’s before you take into account big-man sensation Hassan Whiteside, who is under team control next year for under $1 million, but will be an unrestricted free agent in 2016. If he keeps playing anywhere close to the level he has been since signing in Miami this season, he’s going to command a max or near-max deal of his own. And they’ll have to take care of Wade, who left money on the table this summer after LeBron James left to return to Cleveland.
The Heat don’t have much room to add young talent, since they gave their next two tradable first-round picks to Phoenix for Dragic, and they don’t have much else that would be of interest to other teams in trades. This is their team for the foreseeable future. And if everyone is healthy, a starting five of Dragic, Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh, and Whiteside is incredibly dangerous. But there’s zero depth, and that caveat of health is a big one given the injury histories of Deng, Wade and Bosh.
Keeping Dragic around for the long term is smart. Paying him what he thinks he’s worth may not be.