Heat finding new landscape in NBA draft preparation, particularly with second round

MIAMI – As the Miami Heat work through the pre-draft process, the team’s front office and scouting staff find themselves working in a new environment on several levels, including one created by the NBA and one by the NCAA.

A significant but minimally mentioned element of the new NBA collective-bargaining agreement is a change that could have an impact on the way business is conducted in the draft’s second round.

Starting this year, a team that purchases a second-round pick, which has stood as a routine element of the process over the years, automatically becomes hard capped for the following season. In essence, the typical flier taken by buying a pick in the second round now comes at a potential impact of the way a team must conduct business over the following 12 months.

While the Heat hold the No. 43 pick in the June 27 second round, maneuvering through the second round this year and going forward could prove more a case of bartering than buying or selling for Heat President Pat Riley and his staff.

“It definitely factors in,” said Adam Simon, the Heat’s vice president of basketball operations and assistant general manager. “and you have to look at the big picture and what business you’re doing. And, so, that’ll come into play.

“But doing something that’s going to hard cap you, you definitely have to take that into consideration.”

For teams further from the hard cap figure than the Heat, it is a twist that creates less trepidation. The Heat currently are not set up to be hard capped for 2024-25, with that salary limit at $189.5 million for 2024-25. The Heat, however, are facing a prospective payroll in excess of $180 million, leaving little wiggle room if they were to be hard-capped. For teams already operating above the 2024-25 hard cap, they now are prohibited from buying such a second-round pick.

“But every team is set up differently within their building,” Simon said. “Some are already there. Some aren’t there.”

Then there is an external factor that will be in play until the NBA’s June 16 withdrawal deadline.

With NCAA name, image, and likeness money keeping prospects in college longer, with such NIL payments now in the millions, domestic talent in the second round no longer may be as youthful or as available.

To Simon, it is a tradeoff nonetheless welcomed.

“I think it’s better for us to have players be more developed when they come to the league,” he said. “And I would like more players who aren’t ready to come to the NBA to be ready. I’d rather develop a player’s skill set that has a skill set.”

As it is, there is no guarantee that the Heat retain the player selected with their No. 15 pick in the first round or that they don’t trade their second-round pick, with the Heat lacking several picks in both rounds in future drafts, potentially opting for replenishment in that regard.

“Obviously my job is to prepare for the draft and make the recommendations to Pat and the organization,” Simon said. “So having picks are a good way to try to help build our team. But those picks have to be used sometimes for other business.

“We’ve used them over the years in trades, to acquire players, to get off of players for different reasons. That’s just the hand that we’re dealt, and we make the best of it. Whatever year we have a pick, we’re excited to use it. And come draft night, who knows what could happen?”

So, for now, the scouting remains focused.

“We are going out to L.A.,” Simon said of this week’s agency workouts. “We are going to see as many players as we can in person.”

Heat second-round machinations in recent years:

2024: Heat hold No. 43 pick.

2023: No second round pick.

2022: No second round pick.

2021: No second-round pick.

2020: No second-round pick.

2019: Acquired rights to No. 32 KZ Okpala in a trade with Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers; selected Bol Bol at No. 44 and traded to Denver Nuggets.

2018: No second-round pick.

2017: No second-round pick.

2016: No second-round pick.

2015: Selected Josh Richardson at No. 40.

2014: Selected Semaj Christon at No. 55 and traded to Charlotte Hornets.

2013: Acquired rights to No. 50 James Ennis in a trade with Atlanta Hawks.

2012: Acquired rights to No. 45 Justin Hamilton in a trade with Philadelphia 76ers.

2011: Selected Bojan Bogdanovic at No. 32 and traded to Minnesota Timberwolves for draft rights to Norris Cole.