9 Players the Miami Heat gave up on way too early

Miami Heat Justise Winslow (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports)
Miami Heat Justise Winslow (Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Miami Heat
Miami Heat Caron Butler (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

4. Caron Butler, traded in 2004

Caron Butler was part of the Miami Heat’s start of a colossal ascension atop the NBA’s elites. During the 2002 NBA Draft, the Heat selected Butler with the 10th overall pick. And during his rookie season, he was a valuable part of what would become one of the most entertaining teams in NBA history. The 2003-04 season for the Heat would change the trajectory of their franchise forever.

With a solid core of young players, which included Butler, rookie Dwyane Wade would emerge as the superstar that the team needed to lead the way. The young Heat team quickly become one of the darlings of the Eastern Conference that season. They would go on to lose to a more veteran Indiana Pacers team in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but it was clear the Heat was coming.

The unfortunate part of that story is that Pat Riley didn’t want to wait around for this team to continue to make baby stapes up the East hierarchy. Instead, Riley packaged the Heat’s collection of young players (including Butler but sans Wade) and sent them to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Shaquille O’Neal.

Butler was the epitome of Heat culture and would go on to have a great career, most notably with the Washington Wizards. Butler would make two all-star teams with the Wizards and would go on to win an NBA Championship as a Dallas Maverick in 2011 (though he was injured), ironically against the Miami Heat.