The Step Back

Day 6, Heat and Thunder

In the lead up to the Feb. 8 trade deadline, we’re taking all 30 teams and finding mutually beneficial partners. Every day will offer up a new deal with two new consorts. It’s kinda like the 12 days of Christmas, but instead of hens-a-laying and pear trees and other useless nonsense from your true love, you’re getting fake trades from me for a much higher holy day: the NBA trade deadline. Strap in tight, it’s trading season!

The NBA’s two natural phenomena come together to strike a deal. Both teams are in the middle of their respective conference playoff pictures, so small adjustments may be all they’re looking to do.

Heat get SG, Alex Abrines; 2018 2nd Round Pick

Thunder get SG, Wayne Ellington

Why the Heat do it:

Ellington’s having his most effective year as a pro, shooting almost exclusively 3-pointers. He’s also set to become a free agent this summer. As a 30-year-old journeyman, the Heat might not want to pony up what it would take to re-sign the shooting specialist, what with the contracts of Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson set to exponentially inflate. Alex Abrines gives them slight cost savings this season with an extra year of team control.

Abrines hasn’t been great shakes for the Thunder, but we’ve seen players thrive once they got out of Oklahoma City. Case in point, Victor Oladipo went from looking ineffective and overpaid in Oklahoma City to a down-ballot MVP candidate for Indiana. Miami can look at that and convince themselves the same holds true for Abrines (at a much lower scale, of course).

Why the Thunder do it:

Essentially since their relocation, the Thunder have vacillated between non-shooting defensive stoppers and sharp-shooting defensive zeroes opposite of Russell Westbrook. In all these years, they haven’t been able to find a well-rounded answer at the 2. Here’s the catch though, the right player also wouldn’t need the ball in their hands to thrive.

Ellington’s a middle of the road defender, but a lights-out shooter. He’s fourth in the entire league in made 3’s, behind only James Harden, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry. Most importantly for the Thunder, almost all of Ellington’s attempts come on catch-and-shoots, where he makes 42.5 percent of them.

Come playoff time, teams wouldn’t be able to sag off like in postseasons past to contain Oklahoma City’s main scorers and ignore the rest. The gravity of Ellington sitting behind the arc would keep defenders honest and allow Russell Westbrook to destroy anyone in front of him.

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