According to sources, the Miami Heat have traded center Joel Anthony to the Boston Celtics in a three-way swoop ‘n’ swop. The third piece to this head scratching deal was the Golden State Warriors, who gave Miami guard Toney Douglas and received Jordan Crawford from the Celtics. Along with Anthony, the Heat gave up two draft picks, one which is lottery protected by the Philadelphia 76ers for the next two years. That means that if Philly finishes with a poor record or outside the playoffs either this season or next, the Celtics will have a lottery pick.
This is a puzzling trade for Miami, who really didn’t gain much from what it gave up. I am especially surprised that Pat Riley gave up the lottery protect draft pick. Honestly, what does Douglas, a point guard, bring to the team? They already have strong point guards in Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, exiling Douglas from the rotation. So, what was this trade really about for the defending NBA Champions?
Trading Anthony was simply a move to get the big man off the books and this was probably the only way of doing it. Miami owed Anthony $3.8 million for next season, but freeing up the contract also saved the Heat $6.4 million in luxury tax this season. The deal also sets up Miami to save $15 million in salary and tax next season.
I don’t expect Douglas to play a role in the Heat rotation or the championship run and it wouldn’t surprise me if they released either Douglas or Roger Mason Jr.. This deal is clearly setting up Riley for this offseason, allowing him financial flexibility in his attempt to convince LeBron James to stay. I would also bet that this move is an emergency plan if Miami does not win the championship. If they do fail to three-peat, Riley will have the ability to sign new players and convince James to stay in South Beach.
I am really dissatisfied with the fact that Riley gave up two draft picks along with Anthony, but Riley is not looking to the future, he is looking at the next few years. Riley and Miami are all in on the next three years and keeping the “Big 3″ alive for as long as possible. If that means giving up a useless center for financial flexibility, so be it. Now that Riley has plan B in his back pocket, he can sleep a little better at night.
Shane Phillips is an NBA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow Shane on Twitter @Smphil01, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also email Shane at ShaneRantNBA@gmail.com with any questions, comments, concerns or thoughts.