The weekly Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.
Danny: I read a report the Lakers are interested in trading for Wayne Ellington. I thought Ellington couldn’t be traded this season? And why would the Heat trade him? He’s on such a good deal.
Anthony Chiang: Well, you’re right … kind of. Wayne Ellington and every free agent signed this past offseason are not eligible to be traded until Dec. 15 or three months after their signing, whichever is later. For Ellington, it’s Dec. 15 — as in Saturday. Other Heat players who fall under that same category and can’t be dealt until Dec. 15 at the earliest are Udonis Haslem, Derrick Jones Jr. and Dwyane Wade.
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But let’s get back to the question and look specifically at Ellington. Even after Dec. 15, he cannot be traded this season without his permission because he signed a one-year deal and has full Bird Rights next summer. So Ellington would have to approve any trade, including a deal to the Lakers. That’s an attractive enough destination — with the combination of the city, playing with LeBron James and joining a contender — that Ellington would probably at least consider it. What would the Heat get in an Ellington deal? Miami could ask for a draft pick, and shedding his $6.3 million salary would reduce or maybe even eliminate (it could come down to dollars in this scenario) the luxury tax burden the Heat already faces.
One thing is for sure, Ellington is definitely an asset, and contenders will look into his availability before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. He’s a reliable three-point shooter on an affordable expiring deal. There aren’t too many of those around the league.
@KevinHeatNBA: How possible is it that Justise becomes the Heat’s full-time starting point guard?
Anthony: With Goran Dragic out, it’s very possible. Justise Winslow is really the closest thing the Heat has to a point guard outside of Dragic, with Dwyane Wade and Josh Richardson featuring more of an aggressive scorer’s mentality and Rodney McGruder and Tyler Johnson better off the ball. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Winslow in the Heat’s starting lineup at some point soon, especially if Dragic is out for an extended stretch.
During the past 11 games, Winslow is a team-best plus-92. The Heat is also outscoring opponents by a team-best 14.2 points per 100 possessions with Winslow on the court during this span. Miami has simply been a better team with him on the court recently, period.