Alonzo Mourning spent his playing days pushing through injuries, hard fouls, charges, and the limitations of his body to do whatever was necessary to help the Miami Heat succeed.
Now Mourning will be representing the Heat on Tuesday at the NBA draft ahead of Western Conference Finals Game 1 (which will pit the Houston Rockets against the Golden State Warriors).
Mourning won’t be able to use his determination and grit to influence the outcome this time. Yet for the Heat, which had a rough 2014-2015 season, they’ll need everything they have to either keep their Number 10 pick or move upwards in the draft, if they can.
This year their pick is tied up with the sign-and-trade deal involving LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, which they completed some five years ago. Then, they signed away 2 first-round picks, 2 second-round picks, plus the right to trade first-round picks back in 2012 in order that James could get a longer and somewhat more lucrative contact.
The deal also gave Miami salary cap flexibility for signing on more players. They’d made a similar deal for Chris Bosh with the Toronto Raptors; that one also cost them draft picks.
The rules have changed since then, of course. Back then players were able to force teams into sign-and-trades, and team president Pat Riley says that’s what happened in 2010. While “we would gladly do it again,” he observed, the cost was high — 4 first-round picks.
Miami’s pick in 2015 is “top 10 protected”, which means the team will have to either keep their spot or move upward in the draft, or see their pick go to the 76s in order to fulfill the trade obligation. If Miami does make a choice in this year’s first round, their 2016 pick will stay top 10 protected. If by then they still haven’t forwarded a pick to Philadelphia, by 2017 it will be unprotected.
Both the team and fans with Miami Heat tickets are hoping their luck will take a turn for the better — and sooner, rather than later. As they finished with the league’s 10th worst record, their lottery chances are 91% of remaining locked to spot number 10. They have 11 of 1001 4-number combinations in the lottery, so their odds of winning it are 1.1 percent. For No. 2 pick their chances are 1.3% and for No. 3, 1.6%.
The four teams in the lottery that have a better record than Miami have a lower chance of jumping over them by moving up to a top-3 draft spot, and this would also mean forfeiting the pick to Philadelphia.
NBA teams aren’t allowed to trade future 1st-round picks in adjacent years, but Miami could deal their pick this year if they keep it. But, that rule would also restrict them from making deals with 1st-round picks if they keep their pick this year. The reason is that they traded two of their 1st-round picks in a three-team deal back in February which brought them Goran Dragic.
That, among other reasons, is plenty of reason for Miami to try and hit a home run with their pick this time around if they keep it. There may not be many opportunities to improve their roster using the draft in the next few years, and their trade chips in the future may not be quite so valuable.