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How could key date for NBA trades affect the Miami Heat?

NBA players who signed contracts last summer are now eligible to be traded. Could the Miami Heat be motivated to make a move now?

The NBA’s February trade deadline has long been imprinted in the minds of diehard fans. There is another important date, however, that often flies under the radar. Starting Dec. 15, NBA players who signed for teams in the summer became trade eligible. It’s best explained by Larry Coon in his famous CBA FAQ:

“Generally a team only has to keep a player for three months after signing a contract or Dec. 15 of that season, whichever is later. This does not apply to draft picks, who can be traded 30 days after signing.”

This date is particularly noteworthy to “tanking” teams that use cap space to sign players to one-year deals. There’s often an implicit understanding that they’ll look to move on from said players come Dec. 15 and recoup any assets offered in the process.

In fact, we just played witness to such a transaction. After the soon-to-be-iconic failed three-team “Brooks trade” between the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix pivoted the next morning by trading Trevor Ariza (signed to a one-year deal) to Washington for Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers.

Interestingly, the Miami Heat‘s own Wayne Ellington was re-signed to a one-year deal this summer. It’s hard to imagine the veteran sharpshooter not being of similar interest to teams around the league.

It is worth first noting the different circumstances around his signing, however. The Heat were a playoff team last season and Ellington proved to be a vital cog in their offense. For a team that ranked 21st in offense (106.1 points per 100 possessions, via NBA.com), elite 3-point shooting was a dire need. Ellington managed to make a career-high 227 3-pointers last year, out of a whopping 579 attempts.

Ellington also seems to feel quite at home in Miami. Here’s what he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

“I love Miami, man. I’ve said that from the very beginning. I’ve been to a lot of places and this has felt the best to me and my family. I got my son, I got my wife. They love it, as well. We have our home here, so God willing next summer will be the same thing. We’ll still be here. This is where I want to be at.”

While players often express a desire to stay with their current team, a wrinkle in his contract seems to reflect that. Ellington appeared so determined to re-sign in Miami, he seemingly passed up more lucrative offers.

Joe Harris re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets for $16 million guaranteed. Doug McDermott collected $22 million in guarantees from the Pacers. Marco Belinelli‘s short run with the Philadelphia 76ers warranted $12 million guaranteed from the San Antonio Spurs.

Ellington’s one-year, $6 million pact may seem below market value, but the Heat appear to have conceded a no-trade clause (he has the ability to veto any trade).

Considering their less than favorable start to the season, and a cap situation that places them over the luxury tax, it’s still worth wondering if Miami should try convincing him to accept a trade. Contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, and his hometown Philadelphia 76ers could certainly use a shooter of Ellington’s caliber.

Next: Week 10 NBA Power Rankings

Even if a proposed deal only nets an expiring salary and a few second-rounders (as Kyle Korver‘s did just a few weeks ago), Miami would be wise to consider it. The Heat certainly are a team in need of restocking their draft cupboard.

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