Grade the trade: Heat land polarizing star from playoff contender

Golden State Warriors v Atlanta Hawks
Golden State Warriors v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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In the summer of 2019, the Miami Heat took a big swing on a much-maligned superstar. The result was an immediate NBA Finals appearance that kick-started the second-greatest era in franchise history.

Acquiring Jimmy Butler then was seen as a high-risk move for a team desperate to add superstar talent. The Heat traded Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and a first-round pick for Butler. Looking back at the deal now and it’s clear how much of a steal that was. But, back then, it wasn’t as obvious to everyone involved. CBS Sports gave the Heat a B grade for the deal while the 76ers, who traded Butler and only got Richardson back, got an A.

Trading for a disgruntled and polarizing superstar worked for the Heat before. Five years later, they could have an opportunity to do it again.

According to a fake trade idea proposed by Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey – who is good at making up these kinds of things – the Heat may be able to pry Trae Young away from the Atlanta Hawks without giving up what it typically costs to land such a talent.

In this proposal, the Heat get Young and second-year guard Kobe Bufkin for Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Terry Rozier, a 2028 first-round pick swap and a 2030 first-round pick swap.

Here’s what Bailey wrote: “The Miami Heat don't have a ton of draft capital to offer in trades, but they might not need it after the way some of their young players performed this season. Given his point forward potential, Jaime Jaquez Jr. should be worth more than most of the first-round picks in this year's draft.”

Why the Heat do it

This an offensive talent upgrade. The Heat ranked 21st in offensive rating this season and 25th in 2022-23. Meanwhile in Atlanta, the Hawks have ranked 12th, seventh, second and ninth in offensive rating over the last four years with Young captaining the offense.

Young is a polarizing player. He bristles with the media and coaches. His style of play can be perceived as selfish and the foul-baiting can be hard to watch. But there’s no debating his talent. Young is a walking top-10 offense and might be the best pick-and-roll ball-handler in the league. 

Does he want to call all the shots? Yes. That could be a problem for a lot of teams. But for a team like the Heat, whose stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo actively want to take a smaller role on the offensive end, it could be a perfect fit.

Even after losing assets in a trade, the Heat could surround Young with more talent on both ends than he had in Atlanta. Imagine Young running pick-and-roll with a center like Adebayo or having Butler as an outlet on the second side. Young could pitch to a shooter like Duncan Robinson and get out on the break with Nikola Jovic. These are weapons he never had in Atlanta.

Defensively, the Heat should still be strong enough to withstand Young’s deficiencies. Erik Spoelstra, Butler and Adebayo have shown they could still put together a top-10 defense with minus defenders like Herro and Robinson playing big roles.

While it would be difficult to part with young talents like Herro and Jaquez, the Heat would still keep Jovic and their draft picks. If this is the price, it’s a no-brainer.