The NBA trade deadline is always fun times.
“Sources” do some of their loudest talking around this time of year.
Just about every team in the league will be taking and making phones to discuss moves that will help them reach their ultimate goal – whether that goal is to go deep in the playoffs, collect ping-pong balls, or somewhere in between.
In Miami’s case, their goal is to stay on its current trajectory – winning 14 of its 16 games leading up to the All-Star break – and ascend into one of the final eight playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Even though most Miami fans are saying not to tinker with this Heat team as it’s currently constructed, today’s deals are focused on doing some minor tweaking to the Heat bench – namely finding a backup point guard and a reserve center/forward that can give Miami’s second unit more punch or create more starting lineup scenarios.
Miami dumps Josh McRoberts and capitalizes on the young upside in Josh Richardson to bring in a veteran combo guard that can take on the ball-handling duties for the bench unit in Rodney Stuckey.
Stuckey is a 9-year NBA vet that was once a solid starting guard (circa 2009-2011) and now he has settled into the role of a reserve as he awaits to turn 31 this coming April.
Richardson is currently recovering from an ankle injury, but he’s set to return after the All-Star break. Prior to going down, Richardson averaged 11 points, three rebounds and three assists per game while playing about 30 minutes per game; he’s a very good defender and will hit about 33 percent of his attempted three-pointers.
Richardson becomes expendable because of the emergence of Rodney McGruder. McGruder has performed well since being moved into the starting lineup and fans – as well as the Heat front office – should want to see where he goes.
While Stuckey can serve as the primary ball-handler off the bench, he’s 6-foot-5 and is accustomed to playing off the ball – allowing versatile forward James Johnson to retain some of the playmaking duties.
And of course, “McBob” is just a salary dump.
This deal is very low risk and could end up paying off a pretty decent reward.
Taking advantage of the fact that the Lakers are turning towards a youth movement and are trying to shed veteran bodies – Miami picks up veteran guard Jose Calderon as well as former lottery pick turned journeyman forward Thomas Robinson.
Both of them for nothing more than “McBob”?
Calderon is a little long in the tooth – 35 years old – but this is just going to be a 1-year rental anyway. Because he has been sparsely used in LA this season, the Spaniard guard has some gas left in the tank and his presence would be great for the Heat on the court and in the locker room.
For his career, Calderon averages over six assists and shoots better than 40 percent from three-point range – making him another player that can space the floor for Whiteside and Miami’s other driving-oriented players.
Robinson is the intriguing part to this deal. He looked good for the Lakers earlier this season, but has seemingly fallen out of favor with coach Luke Walton and has been a healthy scratch for the past few weeks of the season.
Robinson, who has played for six different teams in just four seasons, is an athletic 6-foot-10 big who plays with a decent motor and can gobble rebounds and block shots with the best of them when he has everything working.
Why he can’t seem to stick any one place remains a mystery. He was drafted No. 5 overall by Sacramento in 2012 and he’s still only 25 years old.
The guy can do things like this:
He deserves an NBA home.
Worst case – Robinson comes with an expiring contract, so Miami doesn’t re-sign him after the season.
Best case scenario – he finds a suit that fits him in Miami, like James Johnson has, and he proves to be a more than serviceable rotational big man.