Miami Heat: Is an NBA Draft pick worth Chandler Parsons?

Should Chandler Parsons’ next chance be with the Miami Heat?

The Miami Heat are a second chance team.

Though no story rings louder than Michael Beasley’s, who had not one, not two, but three separate stints in Miami, the Heat have been known to give players a new lease on their career.

Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside stand as the quintessential examples. Wade re-joined Miami after one too many pancake breakfasts with the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Whiteside’s career was revitalized after two years of inactivity spent in a South Carolina YMCA.

But it’s not just big-name talent that the Heat consider.

Alonzo Mourning, who was an All-Star with Miami, won his only NBA championship with the Heat after nearly drifting into obscurity following a battle with kidney disease. The story is similar for Greg Oden and Eddy Curry, a pair of out of shape and out of practice centers Miami enlisted for their title runs.

This offseason, the Heat have another second chance story waiting to be written. Currently without a selection in the 2018 NBA draft, Miami can cure their draft woes, albeit at a steep price.

The Memphis Grizzlies are willing to relinquish their hold on the fourth overall pick in the draft, in exchange for absorbing Chandler Parsons’s remaining two-year contract. The deal will net Parsons nearly $50 million in the next two years, essentially doubling Tyler Johnson’s contract, which the Heat may desperately need to shed.

To put Parsons’ contract in perspective, it rivals the deals the Los Angeles Lakers gave to Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov. In 2016-17, the Laker duo signed a pair of four-year deals that would cost a combined total of $136 million if the contracts played out.

To date, that cash has supported a combined 111 games played in two seasons. Mozgov was eventually flipped to the Brooklyn Nets for Brook Lopez, while Deng’s paycheck sits idly on the Lakers bench.

Similarly, Parsons has underwhelmed with Memphis.

Much of his time on Beale Street has been spent injured and when he manages to play, its in limited minutes. Parsons ran for 19.2 minutes per game through 36 contests last season, but got his scoring up to 7.9 points per game (from 2016-17’s 6.2).

Though the likelihood of Miami acquiring Parsons is low, given team president Pat Riley’s committal to landing a healthy superstar or complementary pieces this offseason, the deal would give Miami the upper hand in the long run.

Despite Florida’s non-existent income tax and Miami’s oft-touted quality of life, the Heat have failed to land a superstar since LeBron James skipped back to Cleveland in the 2014-15 season.

Sure, the Heat have managed two playoff appearances, one of which almost reached the Eastern Conference Finals, but the team has lacked the postseason insurance that accompanied the James years.

Gobbling up Parsons’ terrible deal in exchange for the fourth pick however, could set Miami up for a brighter playoff outlook.

According to a myriad of NBA Draft boards, the fourth pick could acquire anyone from a low falling Luka Doncic, to sharp shooting Michael Porter Jr. or the athletic freak Mohamed Bamba. Any of these acquisitions would give Miami a new starting block, in the way their recent draft selections have not.

For all the good brought by Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo, they lack the star power that entices other big-name players to join the Miami Heat vision.

Right now, Miami is on pace for another mid-range Eastern Conference finish in 2017-18, and the outlook changes little in 2018-19, due to the hefty salaries guaranteed from past deals. Signing a shiny new rookie might not pay off next season, but his development as the centerpiece of a new Heat squad could birth a new era in South Beach Basketball.

Miami has yet to find a player akin to Wade in the NBA Draft. Regularly pushed out of the lottery for their performance, a pick this year could set the Heat up for years to come.

Is that pick worth Parsons’ contract? Maybe. If Parsons can find it in himself to play a whole season, he’d slot nicely into a gutted Miami starting five.

However, Miami’s current camaraderie is hard to come by and chopping it up in exchange for a draft pick could do more harm than good. From team outings at Dolphins games to dinners at head coach Erik Spoelstra’s Portland restaurant, Miami plays like a team that genuinely enjoys each other’s company.

Unfortunately, barring a mind-bending Riley trade, the Heat are at an organizational standstill. Tough decisions are coming if only because of their limited cap space.

It’s very much a longshot that Miami can put together a package that supports Grizzlies owner Robert Pera’s hopes of achieving 50 wins next year. The risk for the Heat is equally as high, with injured and unproven players potentially setting the organization back even further.

“Assuming Marc (Gasol) and Mike (Conley) come back healthy, I think we have a couple of surrounding pieces that are younger players that are going to make a positive impact,” Pera told the media per NBA.com. “We’ll get another good player in this draft. I see no reason why we can’t return to being a 50-win plus team.”

The Heat might have plenty of late nights ahead of the NBA Draft next Thursday.

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