Heat offseason mailbag: Should Miami trade Jimmy Butler sooner rather than later?

Plus, will the Heat trade one of their guards this summer?
Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat
Toronto Raptors v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

Welcome to the Miami Heat offseason mailbag! Every week, I’ll jump on here and try my best to answer your questions and provide some explanations during what should be an eventful summer. Let’s do it.

As always, thanks to everyone who sent in questions on X. It’s also where you can send future mailbag questions.

While the Heat have been waiting all this time for a star to grow disgruntled and become available, maybe the situation they were looking for was them all along.

We’ve already heard that teams looking for their own whales like the Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are monitoring Butler’s situation in Miami. All three of those teams are operating under a certain amount of desperation, and the Heat could take advantage of them or others and get the assets they need to rebuild in a post-Butler era – if that’s the direction they decide to go in.

The Heat would be wise to choose a direction soon for two reasons. 

  1. Supply and demand: If the Heat decide to listen to calls, Butler could be the only star available for teams looking to make a big swing and could play the market against itself to drive up the price and get the best possible return.
  2. Clarity: In retrospect, the Heat were doomed as soon as they didn’t get Damian Lillard last summer and entered training camp with more questions than answers. The Lillard situation played out for more than two months. During that time, the Heat couldn’t pursue other potential trades and free agents. When they didn’t get Lillard, they didn’t get anybody. Trading Butler soon would inform the Heat as to how to handle the rest of the offseason and not let other opportunities pass them by. 

The same could be said about offering Butler a maximum extension. If you’re gonna do it, do it now. 

The alternative is to let this situation loom, clouding the vision for the front office all summer. Are they building around Butler? Without Butler? If Butler goes into next season without a new contract, does he become disgruntled and demand a trade in October or November?

If the Heat trade Butler at the start of next season, chances are they won’t get a star in return. The Nets got Ben Simmons and picks in return for James Harden in 2021. The 76ers got a handful of role-playing wings and picks for Harden last year. When the Timberwolves traded Butler at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, all they got was Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick. 

But if the Heat move Butler soon, they could get valuable picks in next week’s draft and other assets that can be used to acquire a new star if and when that star becomes available. They might have to take a short step back, but they’ll be in position to pounce on the next whale.

Depending on the framework of the deal, trading Butler now could result in more financial flexibility, potentially making the Heat players in free agency.

The draft begins Wednesday night. For the Heat’s sake, they should have a good idea of what they plan to do with Butler by then.

If I had to bet, I’d put $5 on Tyler Herro. Only because he’s (a) younger and more valuable than the others and (b) been involved in trade rumors every summer of his career. 

The Heat could have a hard time trading Terry Rozier because he’s coming off a season-ending neck injury. That could scare some teams off until they see him play next season. Duncan Robinson has value across the league, but he might still be more valuable to the Heat than other teams.

If the Heat don’t trade Butler, they may have to trade one of these guards to create some breathing room between them and the second tax apron. Not just because this team isn’t worth the bloated payroll, but also because it could free up some options to make fringe improvements to the roster.

It would take something spectacular, like adding a top-10 offensive player who can carry the scoring weight and bump Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo into complementary offensive roles.

Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young fit the description, but Mitchell might re-sign with the Cavaliers and we still don’t know if the Hawks are looking to trade Young (and if they would ever trade their current franchise player to a team within their own division). 

Other names like Zach LaVine, Dejounte Murray and Lauri Markkanen have been tossed around. They are all good fits to varying degrees, but none of them are leading a championship offense.

Unless there’s another move on the chess board that I’m not seeing, nothing other than prying away Mitchell or Young, or hoping Jimmy Butler has one last big season in him, is putting Miami on the same tier as Boston.

I really like Tristan Da Silva when I turn on the tape. He’s smart, big, a knockdown shooter and moves well without the ball. More than anything, he’s got good feel for the game – which I find to be the most underrated trait in the scouting world.

It’s easy to see him playing a role on the Heat, even as a rookie. Yes, he’s 23 and doesn’t have the athleticism to take guys off the dribble, but not all NBA players are asked to create advantages with the ball in their hands. Da Silva strikes me as a Keegan Murray-type. He thrives off the ball, creates space, hits open shots and matches up defensively. Every team needs those guys.

It depends on who is available but I wouldn’t be mad if the Heat took Da Silva at 15. It would be a safe pick, and my sense is that he’s on their board. Maybe not as their No. 1 option, but a realistic one.