Dave Hyde: Riley works his magic again for Heat in trade for Oladipo

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Dave Hyde, South Florida Sun Sentinel
·4 min read
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Victor Oladipo for a bag of nothing?

Come on, how did Pat Riley do that?

The Miami Heat traded on Thursday for Oladipo, a two-time All-Star, an All-NBA defender, a 28-year-old third wheel for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo — and that only tells half the story of how Riley left the day with a better team than he entered.

The other part isn’t what the Heat gave up in this trade. It’s who they didn’t. No Tyler Herro. No Duncan Robinson. Not even a Precious Achiuwa.

So the Heat got better today without surrendering a slice of tomorrow. They improved their chances this season at no cost to coming seasons.

Out the door in the trade went Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and a swap of first-round picks next year. But break that cost down. That swap of picks involves Brooklyn’s former first-round pick, meaning it probably involves swapping two picks in the 20s. Bradley played 10 games this season due to injuries that seem to have overtaken his career.

Olynyk is the only real cost here — but Riley has that covered, too. He traded earlier Thursday for the similar game of Nemanja Bejlica, a 3-point shooting power forward. That’s if LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t somehow end up in Miami after being bought out by San Antonio.

Who knows? Riley keeps doing things with this roster that no one thinks he can do. He has zero cap space and ends up with Jimmy Butler two summers ago. He drafts Adebayo at No. 14, and now he’s a star. And now Riley loses nothing in trading for Oladipo.

If this works out, the Heat will re-sign Oladipo, who is a free agent this summer. If it doesn’t work out, they don’t re-sign him and have millions to play with in free agency.

The real decision Riley had Thursday wasn’t pulling the trigger on Oladipo. It was his stare-down with Toronto for veteran guard Kyle Lowry. The Heat reportedly offered Robinson and Achiuwa. Toronto reportedly wanted Herro in the mix.

And so it was a few minutes before the 4 p.m. deadline the Heat made the deal with Houston for Oladipo. Lowry is better. Tougher. More championship-quality. Riley also would have been living fully for the moment, considering Lowry’s 35 and the cost would have been the 21-year-old Herro.

Is Herro’s future that bright? The Heat said Thursday they think it is.

The Heat have a chance to make some noise again this postseason in a manner they weren’t going to be able to do, the way things were looking before the trade.

Everyone wanted the magic of last season’s run to the NBA Finals whisked into this year. But it wasn’t working. They weren’t shooting. They weren’t defending. They couldn’t even tap their heels three times and say, “There’s no place like last season.” That only works in the movies.

There was that recent run of winning 11 of 12 games. That was nice. But only two of the wins came against winning teams.

After that, they lost four straight games through Tuesday. And only one of those was against a winning team.

Somewhere in there is this Heat season. That’s not the kind of team you embrace too hard. So before Thursday’s trade deadline, Riley did what he often does. He improved his roster. First came last week’s trade for Trevor Ariza, a 35-year-old, role-playing tough guy.

Thursday brought the main course. The Heat made a move about now, today this season in trading for Oladipo. They also made a move for the future, for tomorrow, for their coming next seasons by not trading Herro.

All around this sports market, teams constantly throw away seasons in the name of three- and five-year rebuilding plans. The Dolphins. The Marlins. The Panthers. What have they won in the last two decades? Then there’s the Heat. They consistently showing how to win today and build tomorrow.

Riley did it again Thursday.

Come on, how did he get something for nothing?