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If you thought Andre Iguodala was going to end up in Los Angeles, guess again.
The former Golden State Warriors wing has ended his half-season sabbatical after the Memphis Grizzlies traded him to the Miami Heat as part of a three-team deal, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Not only is Iguodala joining a new team, but he’s getting an extension on top of it.
Forwards Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill are also heading to Miami with Iguodala. Heat point-forward Justise Winslow is heading to the Grizzlies along with guard Dion Waiters, while Heat forward James Johnson is going to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for center Gorgui Dieng.
The Heat tried to include the Oklahoma City Thunder in this deal in an effort to also acquire Danilo Gallinari, though talks stalled after the Heat and Gallinari couldn’t agree to an extension, per Wojnarowski.
Here are the four biggest takeaways from the deal.
Good Luck Getting Buckets vs. the Heat
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Erik Spoelstra has been the Heat’s head coach since the 2008-09 season. The Heat have finished with a top-10 defensive rating eight times in his 11-plus-year tenure. Before this trade, a ninth top-10 finish appeared unlikely.
The Heat have bled points since the beginning of December, ranking 20th in defensive rating over that time frame (111.5 points allowed per 100 possessions). Their drop scheme has been a mess, largely because they’ve failed to contain ball-handlers.
Adding Iguodala, Crowder and Hill should address that problem.
Iguodala, who hasn’t played since Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, is a wild card at this point. However, he has the strength, IQ and quick hands to be a positive, even if he isn’t the dominant wing stopper he was a few years ago. Crowder and Hill are both serviceable wing defenders that can defend 4s in certain matchups.
Put it this way: If the Heat are up three with 17 seconds left and need a stop, they can toss out a lineup of Iguodala, Jimmy Butler, Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr. and Bam Adebayo. Good luck trying to score against that.
While Iguodala, Crowder and Hill should help Miami’s wing defense, questions remain on offense. Chief among them: Who’s going to make open shots?
Crowder and Hill aren’t exactly sharpshooters. Crowder hasn’t been a reliable threat from deep since his days in Boston. Hill is shooting a career-best 38.1 percent from three, though his shot can leave him at any time.
Iguodala in particular is a wild card here. He’s a career 33.3 percent shooter from deep, and he hasn’t been much better from the corner (34.8 .8percent). He brings value in other areas, particularly as a cutter, sneaky-good screener and ball-mover against scrambling defenses, but his jumper will determine how much the Heat can trust him down the stretch of games.
It’s Time to Unleash Winslow the Playmaker
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Meanwhile, the talented but oft-injured Winslow will get a fresh start on one of the most exciting young teams in the NBA.
Winslow has never had a consistent role due to injuries or the roster construction around him. He flowed between both forward spots in his rookie year, though a Hassan Whiteside injury and a Chris Bosh health scare eventually led to him starting a game at center during Miami’s second-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors in 2015-16.
The Heat experimented with giving Winslow more on-ball opportunities from 2016-17 onward, but there were obvious kinks to work through. His finishing and pull-up shooting needed work, and it was hard to give him consistent reps while he shared the ball with a host of other ball-handlers.
Winslow also struggled to stay healthy. He played in only 152 of a possible 246 regular-season games in the three seasons following his rookie campaign. This season, he’s appeared in only 11 of Miami’s 50 games as he continues to nurse a back injury.
Winslow has struggled to find a rhythm because of the myriad injuries he’s dealt with: wrist, knee, a concussion and the back injury that’s currently holding him out. The addition of Jimmy Butler and the emergence of Kendrick Nunn was the writing on the wall for Winslow’s future as a Heat ball-handler. Jones’ improvement as a small-ball 4 further sealed Winslow’s fate.
However, Memphis has a clear need for a secondary playmaking wing. Rookie point guard Ja Morant is a star in the making, but he shouldn’t be tasked with creating everything. Dillon Brooks is a fantastic shooter with some driving chops, but he doesn’t create for others that well. Winslow has the passing ability to fill that void.
Having some semblance of consistency would be huge for Winslow. Combined with the spirit of this young group—just ask Iguodalaand Stephen Curry—that makes this trade feel like a godsend for him. He’ll need to stay healthy, but he now has a path to turn his career around.
D’Angelo Russell, KAT Score Some Help
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Much like Waiters, Johnson had been out of the rotation for most of the season as the Heat rolled with their revamped group. However, the 32-year-old has been solid since earning consistent minutes in January, providing Miami with much-needed defense, interior scoring, screening and occasional pick-and-roll reps.
He’s now heading to the Timberwolves, who have a hole at the 4 that he can fill. Pick-and-rolls between D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns will be the primary option of Minnesota’s spread attack, but don’t sleep on a potential Russell-Johnson connection.
Russell has enough pull-up equity for defenses to consider trapping him in high-screen actions. Johnson isn’t a Draymond Green-level threat in short-roll situations, but he’s impressive in his own right. Don’t be surprised if those two connect on their fair share of pick-and-rolls, leading to some high-low passing to Towns against scrambling defenses.
Who Gets Squeezed on the Heat?
Miami’s additions may not affect him right away—Heat center Meyers Leonard is currently out with an ankle sprain—but Kelly Olynyk has to be looking over his shoulder.
While Johnson is projected to get more playing time on his new team, Olynyk may get bumped down Miami’s rotation. Both Crowder and Hill can play the 4, which would allow the Heat to play Adebayo at the 5. Jones has already been playing plenty of 4 for the Heat.
When Leonard returns, it’s hard to see a scenario where Olynyk isn’t the odd man out.
Stats are courtesy of NBA.com unless otherwise noted.