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No deal for Heat at NBA deadline, but buyout market still could provide boost in bolstered East

MIAMI – Turns out that the NBA trading deadline for the Miami Heat came Jan. 23, when they traded Kyle Lowry and a first-round pick to the Charlotte Hornets for Terry Rozier.

That, in turn, made Thursday’s official NBA 3 p.m. deadline more of a viewing party.

But that does not mean the team’s personnel work is done.

Instead, as the result of a flurry of moves around the league, including several involving teams the Heat are battling for Eastern Conference playoff position, there figures to be an even keener eye on personnel possibilities in coming days.

Up next for Pat Riley, Andy Elisburg and the Heat front office is the buyout market, perhaps with similar intent as a year ago, when the Heat bypassed the trade deadline and instead quickly moved to add Kevin Love and Cody Zeller.

With many of Thursday’s trades involving teams more focused on the future, several potentially impactful names could soon become available on the buyout market, including former Heat big man Kelly Olynyk and long-time Heat personnel target Thaddeus Young.

Olynyk on Thursday was dealt by the Utah Jazz to the rebuilding Toronto Raptors. Young was dealt by the Raptors to the rebuilding Brooklyn Nets.

There is, however, one significant difference this year when it comes to the buyout market. Because of a clause in the new collective-bargaining agreement, teams positioned where the Heat stand against the luxury tax only can sign waived players whose 2023-24 salary stands at no more than the NBA average of $12.4 million.

Olynyk (at $12.2 million) and Young (at $8 million) fall within that parameter, as do several other players on the final years of contracts who were traded to lottery-level teams such as Danilo Gallinari ($6.8 million), Otto Porter Jr. ($6.3 million), Robin Lopez ($3.2 million) and Danuel House Jr. ($4.3 million).

Other buyout candidates who in previous years would have been available as tempting targets for the Heat no longer are accessible, such as Marcus Morris ($17.1 million 2023-24 salary), Joe Harris ($19.9 million, and already waived), Evan Fournier ($18.9 million), Davis Bertans ($17 million) and Spencer Dinwiddie ($18.9 million)..

The Heat continue to operate with an open spot on their standard roster, at 14, one below the league limit of 15.

Players must be waived by March 1 in order to be eligible for the playoffs elsewhere.

The Heat could have added an additional roster spot by offloading the expiring contract of guard Dru Smith, who underwent season-ending knee surgery in December, but there was no such deal by the deadline.

Instead, after striking for Rozier last month, the Heat watch the competition stiffen for seeding in the East, with moves Thursday that saw:

– The New York Knicks add Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks.

– The Philadelphia 76ers add Buddy Hield.

– The Indiana Pacers add Doug McDermott.

– The Milwaukee Bucks add Patrick Beverley.

– The Boston Celtics add Jaden Springer, a day after adding Xavier Tillman.

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In addition, based on ancillary moves by Philadelphia to free luxury-tax space, it appears the 76ers are now positioned for the addition of hometown product Lowry on the buyout market.

The Heat were limited by their lack of draft resources, not allowed by league rule to trade this year’s first-round NBA draft pick until after exercising a selection in June.

The Heat did not have an unencumbered first-round pick to trade until their 2030 selection, with only one unencumbered second-round selection to offer, that being a 2026 Los Angeles Lakers’ second-rounder. Otherwise, the Heat could have traded a conditional 2024 second-round pick of their own that is protected beyond No. 50, or a 2027 second-round pick that is the least favorable of second-round picks in that draft of those held by the Heat, Pacers, Rockets, Spurs and Thunder.

So, instead, the Heat next turn to the long view, which includes the rights of Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith to become free agents this summer, and the impacts of such negotiations on future payrolls.

The Heat also are able until next month to swap out their players on two-way contracts, with Jamal Cain, Cole Swider and RJ Hampton currently holding those deals. Any of those three also can be converted to standard contract, which then would make them playoff eligible.