— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) September 2, 2022
Even though the Heat had been linked to Mitchell this offseason, it’s not surprising that the team ultimately wasn’t in the sweepstakes for the three-time All-Star.
Miami simply didn’t have the draft capital that the Cavaliers or New York Knicks did in their negotiations with Utah. That put the Heat at a major disadvantage, even though the team could’ve offered Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro as a starting point in negotiations.
The Jazz received three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps from the Cavs for Mitchell. Since the Heat still owe the Oklahoma City Thunder a 2025 lottery-protected pick, the team can only trade so many draft picks since the Stepien Rule prevents teams from trading their first-round pick in consecutive seasons.
The issue with the picks Miami owes the Thunder is that it becomes an unprotected pick in 2026 if it doesn’t convey in the 2025 season. Thus, Miami can’t trade its first-round pick in either draft.
Miami could have offered a package centered around Herro, Duncan Robinson (to help match salary) and another young player, but there is no guarantee a rebuilding Utah team would have even considered such a swap.
The Jazz received two younger pieces in Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen who are already under contract, as well as 2022 first-round pick Ochai Agbaji in the deal for Mitchell.
With Herro still in need of a contract extension, it may have put even more pressure on the Heat to part ways with additional assets in case Utah couldn’t come to an agreement with the University of Kentucky product.
The Heat don’t need Donovan Mitchell to compete in the East
Mitchell is a great player, and during the 2021-22 regular season, he averaged 25.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc.
However, the Heat have shown that they can win with their current core.
Miami made the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season, and it was one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals last season. Herro, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have formed one of the better cores in the NBA, and they led the Heat to the No. 1 seed in the East last season.
At the end of the day, it didn’t make sense for Miami to mortgage several important assets for Mitchell when the team is already so close to a title without him. Now, the Heat will run things back in the 2022-23 season in hopes that they can represent the East in the NBA Finals.