NBA deadline tracker: Will Heat trade Kyle Lowry? And the Russell Westbrook option

NBA deadline tracker: Will Heat trade Kyle Lowry? And the Russell Westbrook option

Miami Heat’s Kyle Lowry, middle, watches from the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Milwaukee.

Miami Heat’s Kyle Lowry, middle, watches from the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Milwaukee.


Welcome to trade deadline day!

The Miami Heat continues to explore the trade market as the NBA’s 3 p.m. deadline looms.

Will the Heat make a deal before the deadline? We’ll have live updates for you on the Heat’s doings here throughout the day:

3 p.m.: The Heat did not make a trade before the NBA’s 3 p.m. trade deadline. The Heat now will pursue players in the buyout market, with John Wall, Russell Westbrook Reggie Jackson, Will Barton, Terrence Ross and Patrick Beverley among those expected to be available.

Miami is just under $5 million below the luxury tax threshold and has exceptions of $4.1 million and $4 million that cannot be combined but can be used on players who hit the buyout market.

Also newsworthy: We’re told Kyle Lowry’s return is not considered imminent; he has soreness and swelling in his left knee. He is expected to play again this season, but an associate said his absence might stretch into March, though he has the option of returning anytime he feels he’s healthy enough to play. The Heat needs a read on his health before determining how aggressively to pursue point guards in the buyout market.

2 p.m.: The Clippers, who had talked to the Heat against Kyle Lowry, instead acquired point guard Bones Hyland from Denver. Lowry and Hyland both are averaging 12 points per game, but Hyland is making $26 million less than Lowry’s $28 million salary. So that would be an incentive for the Clippers to acquire Hyland, because acquiring Lowry would have required them to part with their depth.

The Clippers also are acquiring guard Eric Gordon from Houston, per The Athletic.

Meanwhile, another Eastern Conference playoff contender strengthened itself when Atlanta acquired Saddiq Bey from Detroit, in a three-team trade, with Golden State. The Hawks dealt five second-round picks, per ESPN. Detroit gets Warriors center James Wiseman in the deal.

1:30 p.m.: Russell Westbrook is expected to receive a buyout from the Jazz after his trade from the Lakers. He has interest in joining the Heat or the Clippers once he’s bought out, according to the Athletic.

Mark J. Terrill AP

The Heat is well-positioned to bid for players on the buyout market after the Dewayne Dedmon trade put the Heat nearly $5 million below the tax threshold. This means Miami can use its $4.1 million bi-annual exception and/or the remaining $4 million of its midlevel exception to sign players in the coming weeks without entering the tax.

Using the bi-annual exception this season would take it off the table for the Heat next season because it can’t be used two years in a row. And using any remaining portion of its midlevel exception would hard cap Miami at the apron of $157 million, which is not an issue because the Heat is not even expected to cross the luxury-tax threshold of $150.3 million this season.

12:05 p.m.: Shortly after the Celtics added outside help in a trade, another Heat rival bolstered its roster before the deadline. The Bucks are acquiring former Heat forward Jae Crowder in a trade with the Nets for five second-round picks, according to The Athletic.

Crowder, who was part of the Suns’ trade package for Kevin Durant, was a Heat trade target.

When Crowder was still with the Suns earlier this season, Phoenix resisted the Heat’s trade concepts and talks simply never gained traction.

11:40 a.m: Another Heat rival strengthened itself, albeit modestly, on Thursday when Boston acquired stretch big Mike Muscala from Oklahoma City for Justin Jackson and two future second-round picks.

Muscala, who can play center and power forward, is averaging 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds and shooting 39.4 percent on threes.

11:30 a.m.: The number of potential whales available to the Heat continues to diminish. Less than 12 hours after Phoenix landed previous Heat target Kevin Durant, Portland has made guard Damian Lillard off limits in trade talks, per Yahoo’s Chris Haynes.

Lillard is due $45 million, $49 million and $58 million in the next three seasons. The Heat would have had difficulty making a competitive bid for Lillard because of trade restrictions involving Tyler Herro, who can’t easily be dealt until the summer. Regardless, Lillard apparently won’t be dealt.

And that leaves no All-NBA caliber player available on the market as the trade deadline nears.

The Heat, incidentally, apparently had no opportunity to make a bid for Durant this week; ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the Nets had covert discussions with only Phoenix, which was Durant’s preferred destination.

10:25 a.m.: The Heat has explored trying to move Duncan Robinson, who’s in the second year of a five-year, $90 million contract.

But his contract – combined with uncertainty over his status after finger surgery – have made that very, very difficult. Teams want multiple first-round picks in return, according to a source.

10:10 a.m.: The Heat’s efforts in the hours before the trade deadline have focused on trying to trade Kyle Lowry, potentially to the Clippers if the teams can agree to a deal.

But the Nets – now reshaping their roster – have made Jae Crowder available after he was dealt there in the Kevin Durant deal with Phoenix, as ESPN reported. The Heat continues to have an interest in Crowder, but finding a a way to facilitate a trade from a cap standpoint remains problematic.

To acquire Crowder in a trade, the Heat must sent out salaries comparable to Crowder’s $10.2 million salary this season. And that’s difficult for Miami to achieve unless Brooklyn takes Robinson’s five-year, $90 million deal (unlikely) or the Heat is willing to include Caleb Martin, who’s earning $6.5 million this season. But the Heat has been disinclined to include Martin in a deal for Crowder.

Crowder prefers to be traded, rather than bought out, so that his Bird Rights are preserved.

The Nets might have other assets available, but the Heat would have similar difficulty, from a cap perspective, in a trade for 6-4 small forward Royce O’Neale, who’s shooting 40.3 percent on threes.

Trading Robinson for wing Joe Harris – earning $18.6 million and $19.9 million in a deal through 2023-24 – would hold little appeal to the Nets, because Robinson’s deal runs two years longer, and Harris has had the better season.

Including a third team could help facilitate a trade for these players, but there would still be challenges.

9:20 a.m.: The are still more than five hours to go before this season’s final trade buzzer sounds, but it has already been a very, very, very eventful trade deadline week.

It started over the weekend when the Brooklyn Nets dealt star guard Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks.

It continued on the eve of the deadline with the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz agreeing to a significant three-team trade sent Malik Beasley, D’Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Lakers; Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Mike Conley, and three second-round picks to the Timberwolves; and Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and a top-four protected 2027 first-round pick to the Jazz on Wednesday.

The Knicks then wrapped up Wednesday night by acquiring Josh Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Ryan Arcidiacono, Svi Mykhailiuk, Cam Reddish and a protected 2023 first-round pick.

But the trade that shook the NBA world happened just around 1 a.m. on deadline day, when the Phoenix Suns acquired superstar Kevin Durant in a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

The Suns sent Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder, four unprotected first-round picks and a 2028 pick swap to the Nets.

As for the Heat, it has made one trade so far ahead of the deadline.

That happened when Miami moved Dewayne Dedmon and an unprotected 2028 second-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs for cash considerations in a trade that created flexibility under the luxury tax line for the Heat to convert undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson from a two-way contract to a standard deal, add a player in a trade before today’s deadline and/or in the free agent and buyout market afterward.

Is another Heat move coming prior to the deadline?

Heat starting point guard Kyle Lowry is among Heat players available in trade talks ahead of today’s deadline, according to multiple league sources.

The Los Angeles Clippers have expressed interest in Lowry as they look to add a point guard before the deadline. With Westbrook expected to be bought out by the Jazz, the Clippers could also simply just sign Westbrook when he hits the buyout market instead of trading for Lowry to address their need at guard.

Lowry missed his second straight game in Wednesday’s 116-111 home win over the Indiana Pacers because of ongoing left knee soreness. The Heat already announced that Lowry will also miss at least the next two games before being further evaluated.

How comfortable a trade partner feels about Lowry’s troublesome left knee is expected to be a big factor in trade negotiations.

Another question is: Would the Heat need to attach a first-round pick to the deal to facilitate a trade involving Lowry? And is Miami willing to even do that?

Lowry is on a $28.3 million salary this season and is due $29.7 million in the final season of his contract next season.

Lowry, 36, has averaged 12 points while shooting 39.6 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range and 5.3 assists per game this season. The last time Lowry averaged fewer than 13 points per game in a season was in his first year with the Toronto Raptors in 2012-13, the last time he shot worse than 41 percent from the field in a season was also in 2012-13, the last time he shot 34 percent or worse on threes in a season came in 2014-15 with the Raptors, and the last time he averaged fewer than six assists in a season came in 2009-10 with the Houston Rockets.

Lowry was not at Miami-Dade Arena for Wednesday’s win over the Pacers because of what the team labeled as an excused absence amid the swirling trade rumors.

“I told Kyle, you got to control what you can control,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said following Wednesday’s victory when asked about his close friend’s situation ahead of the deadline. “That’s my guy and I love him to death. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I love Kyle as an NBA player, as a human being. I want to play with Kyle. But so much is out of my control just like so much is out of his control. He can be my guy forever and I want him to be my teammate forever. Whatever happens, happens.”

The Heat arrives to the deadline in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 30-25 record.

This story was originally published February 9, 2023, 9:23 AM.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.

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