Report: Pat Riley couldn’t sell Micky Arison on tax consequences from Bradley Beal trade

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Despite the best efforts of Miami Heat team president Pat Riley, the financial costs incurred by a potential trade for Bradley Beal were seemingly too much, which in part led to the guard’s trade to the Phoenix Suns.

Steve Bulpett of noted how team owner Micky Arison couldn’t swallow the costs involved in a Beal trade with the Washington Wizards, which also would have involved additional financial expenses.

“But Riley couldn’t sell the owner on the tax consequences down the road,” said the exec. “It was a hard contract to move. Bradley might have been stuck in Washington if it hadn’t been for the new guy in Phoenix (owner Mat Ishbia) wanting to make a splash. And he got pushed by K.D. (Kevin Durant) to add that third guy. Kevin was the driver in that regard. And Bradley still had to give up his no-trade clause and (15%) trade kicker to make it work.”

Bulpett used the Heat’s pursuit of Beal as an example when discussing the Boston Celtics’ negotiations on a contract extension for Jaylen Brown.

Beal signed a five-year contract extension with the Wizards last year that is set to pay him just over $251 million over that span. He’s set to make $46.7 million for the 2023-24 season, with the final year of the deal a player option that would pay him a staggering $57.1 million during the 2026-27 campaign.

That financial hit was too much for Arison, who has often sought to avoid the luxury tax when possible. Arison’s reluctance to add to any luxury tax penalties was previously noted after the Beal trade to Phoenix was completed.

Both before and since that deal, the Heat have been linked to a possible acquisition of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.

There’s been no new reported progress on any Heat deal for Lillard, with the team currently focused on trying to keep members of the team who helped the Heat reach the 2023 NBA Finals.

While that effort came up short against the Denver Nuggets, the Heat remain viable championship contenders. That’s because over the past four seasons, the team has twice reached the Finals and was defeated in Game 7 of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals.

Of course, if the Heat end up trading for Lillard, the cost to make it happen figures to be steep. Also, Lillard’s current remaining contract has him set to make even more than Beal is set to earn.

During his legendary career, Riley has never been afraid to make a big deal. In this case, the effort came up short, but it’s not likely to deter him from pulling the trigger in the future.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.