How the Miami Heat can still acquire Donovan Mitchell this summer

Trading for Terry Rozier hasn't necessarily taken the Heat out of the mix for Donovan Mitchell this summer.

Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers
Charlotte Hornets v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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For the better part of the last two seasons, the Miami Heat have rebuffed, making marginal improvements with an eye toward a splashy, superstar trade. 

The Heat broke the cycle on Tuesday when they agreed to trade Kyle Lowry and a lottery-protected 2027 first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Terry Rozier. An obvious upgrade over Lowry, Rozier helps the Heat keep pace in the East now, even if he’s not a superstar on the same level as Damian Lillard or Kevin Durant.

Like they were with those two, the Heat will always be in the mix for nearly every disgruntled star who becomes available. In the past, they were reluctant to trade a first-round pick for marginal upgrades partly because they were hoarding their limited assets for a player like Lillard.

Now, the question is whether the Heat will still have enough to acquire a superstar after this week’s deal if one becomes available this summer. One such name could be Donovan Mitchell, who many insiders anticipate could be the next star on the move if he declines to sign an extension in Cleveland this summer.

We won’t know the answer to that question until the Heat cross that bridge. However, because of how their outgoing draft pick protections are structured, the Heat haven’t necessarily taken themselves out of the mix for Mitchell or any other star.

To recap the Heat’s draft assets.

  • They owe a top-14 protected first to Oklahoma City in 2025 that is unprotected in 2026 if it does not convey in the prior season.
  • They owe a top-14 protected first to Charlotte in 2027 that is unprotected in 2028 if it does not convey in the prior season.
  • The Heat can only trade its 2030 first-round pick.
  • They can also trade swap rights in 2029 and 2030.
  • They also have two second-round picks available to trade.

Teams can only trade first-round picks up to seven years out – in this case, 2030 – and cannot trade picks in consecutive seasons.

This means that if the Heat finish in the lottery in 2025 and, therefore, convey an unprotected pick to Oklahoma City in 2026, the pick owed to Charlotte automatically gets bumped to an unprotected 2028 pick.

This means that between now and the Feb. 8 deadline, the Heat can only trade one first-round pick (2030). The Heat are unlikely to part with that pick.

But that changes in June, when teams get access to a new year’s worth of picks. On the night of the NBA draft, the Heat can trade the rights to the 2024 pick (making the selection for another team) and a 2030 or 2031 first. They could also unlock the rights to another pick swap.

So, while the Heat can only trade one first-round pick and one swap now, they’ll be able to trade two first-round picks and two swaps starting the night of the draft.

If the Cavaliers were to start fielding offers for Mitchell in June, the Heat could theoretically offer a package of two first-round picks (2024, 2030), two first-round pick swaps (2029, 2031), Tyler Herro and Nikola Jovic. 

(They could also theoretically trade Herro to a third team for matching salary and draft assets, which would be added to their current haul of picks and flipped to Cleveland.)

That package wouldn’t be enough to compete with the best offers from asset-rich teams like the Thunder, Spurs and Knicks, but if Mitchell makes it clear that he wants to come to Miami, it could tilt things in the Heat’s favor.

Under his current contract, Mitchell can become a free agent in 2026, so any team trading for him will have to get assurances that he will sign an extension. 

This is similar to how the Pascal Siakam trade played out, with Siakam pushing the Sacramento Kings away by signaling that he wouldn’t be willing to sign an extension with them. Mitchell can do the same if he aims to end up in Miami.

Of course, Heat fans will recall that this posturing didn’t work out with Lillard. The Heat front office remembers, too, which is why they went ahead and made the guaranteed upgrade now. 

Nobody knows what the offseason will yield, but the Heat have smartly improved themselves now while staying in the mix for Mitchell or any other superstar who shakes loose this summer.

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