Derrick Jones Jr.

Getty Images

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on botched trade with Heat: ‘Absolutely nothing malicious’


The Heat and Mavericks reportedly blamed each other for a trade falling through during the chaotic start of free agency.

Dallas thought it was getting Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. Miami thought it was sending Goran Dragic.

The non-deal put the Heat in a bind. They had to unload salary to complete a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. The 76ers, who got Josh Richardson for Butler, were counting on that payroll reduction to sign Al Horford. A lot of dominoes were in play.

Eventually, Miami traded Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers to complete the Butler deal. The Mavericks saved their cap space for Delon Wright and a run at Danny Green, who wound up with the Lakers.

But what happened with the trade that wasn’t?

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

“As far as we can tell, it was just miscommunication,” Cuban told me in an email exchange.

Cuban did not discuss specific players in his email but said “I was sitting in the room full of people when the call was discussed and we put the trade we thought was happening on our board. We later discussed trade kickers and added a player to make it work. They obviously thought they heard something else.”

Cuban said “there was absolutely nothing malicious that went on.”

This isn’t fair to Cuban, but his willingness to move on without spite makes me think the Mavericks were at fault. If the Heat caused the problem, Dallas would be more likely to cause a stink.

Again, that’s totally unfair. Maybe Cuban is just taking the high road. Those negotiations are in the past. Even the wronged team is better off moving on.

But it’s the conclusion I jumped to and can’t shake.

Report: Heat using Clippers as fourth team to complete Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Heat – after agreeing to send Josh Richardson to the 76ers in a sign-and-trade for a maxed-out Jimmy Butler, having the Mavericks fall through as the third team in the deal, roping in the Trail Blazers – will add the Clippers as the fourth team in a deal that hopefully each side understands.

Miami will still get Butler, still send Richardson to Philadelphia. Portland will still get Hassan Whiteside for Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard. But Harkless will now go to L.A. with a first-round pick attached from Miami as a sweetener for taking his $11,511,234 salary.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is a very different trade than the ones (plural!) Miami and Dallas agreed to. The Heat will seemingly keep Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. – three players who can help around Butler.

Instead, Miami downgrades from Whiteside to Leonard and surrenders a first-rounder. Bam Adebayo can step into a larger role at center. The protections on that first-round pick will be highly important, especially as the Heat continue with this older, capped-out team.

The Heat could still make other moves to trim salary. If they don’t, they’ll likely stretch Ryan Anderson. That’d add a $5,214,583 cap hit each of the next three seasons – another cost of this new trade structure.

This could be a nice windfall for the Clippers, again depending on the pick protections. Harkless can play, and there’s plenty of upside with Miami picks. Importantly, L.A. preserves max cap space for Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers surely hoped to lure better complementary players than Harkless, but with the market drying up quickly, Harkless doesn’t look so bad. And the pick could be a valuable long-term asset.

Report: Heat, Mavericks blame each other for trade falling through

Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

The Heat reportedly agreed to trade Goran Dragic to the Mavericks. The Mavericks reportedly agreed to trade for Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. from the Heat.

But Miami and Dallas didn’t agree to the same deals.

As a result, the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade between the 76ers and Heat hangs in the balance. That deal would send Josh Richardson to Philadelphia and help the 76ers clear cap space to sign Al Horford, who opted out with the Celtics to get this big contract. So, the ripple effects are far-reaching.

What went wrong between the Heat and the Mavericks?

Tim Cato of The Athletic:

At some point, Miami became convinced that it was sending Goran Dragic to Dallas, league sources told me and The Athletic’s Jared Weiss. The two sides have been arguing over how the miscommunication happened and which side is to blame.

All this confusion and not a single Brooks involved. I’m not sure whose fault this is, but with Butler set to join them and Philadelphia counting on that, the Heat face a lot of pressure to get something done.

To acquire a maxed-out Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade, Miami must send out at least $15,997,024 of salary in addition to Richardson’s in the deal. Salaries of the maybe-involved players:

  • Dragic: $19,217,900
  • Olynyk: $12,667,886
  • Jones: $1,645,357

The Heat must also stay below the hard cap ($138,928,000), which is triggered by acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade. That requires shedding even more salary, though it doesn’t have to be done in the Butler trade.

Stretching Ryan Anderson ($15,643,750 guaranteed next season) would help, but that can be only one aspect of the deal.

Meanwhile, teams like the Knicks, Clippers and Mavericks are filling their cap space. Miami is running out of places to unload salary.

Report: Heat trading Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. – not Goran Dragic – to Mavericks

Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
1 Comment

Update: Jared Weiss of The Athletic:


That report of the Heat trading Goran Dragic to the Mavericks? Never mind.

But Dallas will still help Miami facilitate the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade, which will send Josh Richardson to the 76ers and required Miami to unload more salary.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Kelly Olynyk ($13,067,885 salary next season, $13,598,243 player option the following season) is an expensive stretch big, but he’s cheaper than Dragic.

Derrick Jones Jr. ($1,645,357 salary next season) is an athletic energy forward.

I wouldn’t take that combination without a sweetener, and maybe the Mavericks got one. Or maybe Dallas just liked Olynyk and Jones that much.

Report: Heat trading Goran Dragic to Mavericks

Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Update: The Heat will instead trade Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr., not Goran Dragic, to the Mavericks.


To match salary in a Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade, the Heat had to deal more than just Josh Richardson (to the 76ers).

Miami will also send Goran Dragic to the Mavericks and unite him fellow Slovenian Luka Doncic.

Tim Cato of The Athletic:

We’ll see whether the Mavericks gave up any positive assets. This could be just a nice right-time, right-place get.

Dragic is a solid starting point guard. But he’s sort of old (33) and expensive ($19,217,900 salary on expiring contract).

Butler becomes Miami’s best player. But when considering how his production helps the Heat, don’t forget they’re losing Richardson and Dragic. That cuts into what Butler adds.