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The Miami Heat traded Arnett Moultrie, the team's first round pick, to the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night
The Miami Heat traded the rights to its first round draft pick on Thursday night to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return for Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie, who the Heat selected with the 27th pick, Miami received a future first round pick and Philadelphia's second-round pick, LSU center Justin Hamilton.
Miami's move was clearly done to save salary cap space. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that all first rounders receive contracts that are guaranteed for two seasons. Second round picks receive no contract guarantee, meaning they can be cut any time after training camp.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley has never been enamored with rookies, and tends to build his teams via free agency and trades. This preference is amplified by the fact that Miami is coming off a championship, and has little money to spend to add an experienced veteran.
Miami is projected to be over the salary cap even before re-signing or acquiring a single player next year. The Heat will have to pay a luxury tax, and each extra dollar spent on salary over the summer will add to the tax.
The Heat are expected to go after point guards Steve Nash and Ray Allen over the summer, either of whom would eat up what little salary flexibility the Heat have. Saving a little cap room for either of those two (among many other potential targets) is more important than drafting a late-first rounder who may not even be able to crack a rotation on next year's squad.
Not that it can't be done. Norris Cole was the 28th pick in last year's draft, and he played key minutes in the NBA Finals. Starting point guard Mario Chalmers was the 34th pick in the 2008 draft.
Perhaps Riley does not expect lighting to strike twice, though. The first round pick from Philadelphia is lottery-protected for three years, meaning Miami will receive a pair of second round picks if the Sixers miss the playoffs in each of the next three seasons (highly unlikely).
The Heat still owe Cleveland a pair of first round picks for the LeBron James trade, so picking up a future first round pick will help down the road.
Hamilton averaged 12.9 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last season at LSU, his junior season. He spent his freshman and sophomore seasons at Iowa State, and sat out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Miami could use another big man, but the 7-foot Hamilton seems like a long shot to make the Heat's roster, especially if the team signs one or more free agents.