Will Miami Heat grow to regret Justise Winslow deal in Orlando?

Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat in action against the Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Justise Winslow #20 of the Miami Heat in action against the Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

With the NBA season headed on a different trajectory into Orlando, will the Miami Heat eventually regret the Justise Winslow trade?

Pat Riley and the Miami Heat’s plan to once again put together a championship contender has seen a number of moves strung together. It started with the sign-and-trade deal that brought Jimmy Butler to Miami, and most recently saw Justise Winslow end up in Memphis.

It’s worth noting that each of those moves was made on the precedent that the Heat would be playing out a regular 2019-2020 campaign. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, that couldn’t be any further from what has actually become of this NBA season.

In fact, the rest of this basketball campaign will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The Miami Heat, along with 21 other teams, are headed to a quarantined bubble in Orlando, Florida to play out the remainder of 2020 and ultimately crown a Finals champion.

So naturally, one has to ask. If Riley and this Heat front office knew the season would be playing out on each side of a three month hiatus, would they have pulled the trigger on the Winslow deal?

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Miami traded 24-year old forward (along with Heat culture outcast Dion Waiters) to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for a trio of veterans: Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill, and Jae Crowder.

It was a part of a larger three-team deal that saw them deal James Johnson as well, a prized veteran and longterm contributor for the team who had recently fallen out of rotation. But make no mistake, the primary focus in this deal was to acquire 2015 Finals MVP Iguodala.

That, and to shed the $16-million owed to Johnson next season. Miami going big fish hunting next offseason with their eyes primarily on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Victor Oladipo.

The versatile veteran’s experience and skillset make him a natural fit for what the team is looking to accomplish in the upcoming seasons. Which is why the Heat signed him to a two-year extension worth $30-million almost immediately upon his landing in Miami.

But looking back now, did they have to make this move for Iguodala right now?  

The largest concern with Winslow was his lingering back injury, one that saw him miss all but 11 games before being dealt to Memphis at the deadline. But he’s still just 24 and, to the surprise of none, reportedly healthy now that the NBA season is about to resume.

Having a healthy Winslow to contribute in NBA Orlando may prove more valuable than whatever Iguodala is about to contribute after taking almost an entire year away from basketball.

And if the Heat needed to deal their 2015 first-round selection after this season, there’s little doubt they’d be able to pull off a similar deal with a prospect hungry club like the New York Knicks.

In his lone 11 games this season Winslow averaged 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4 assists per game for Miami. Will that prove a contribution the team needed come their postseason run?

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There are many moving pieces that come with building a championship contender. Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are learning that once again, the hard way. As the NBA season marches on into unknown territory, the “what if” facet to that Justise Winslow deal will be a narrative to watch.