Kings, Heat to meet after making changes
When the visiting Miami Heat take on the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, the trade deadline will have expired, and the players who remain will at least know their fate for the rest of the season.
Prior to the deadline, the Kings made two moves, acquiring Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks while trading Iman Shumpert, Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson.
"It's been an interesting couple of hours," Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
Miami also made a trade, sending guards Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for forward Ryan Anderson.
With the trade, Miami's luxury-tax bill dropped from $9.7 million to $1.7 million, and the Heat also gained a $6.3 million trade exception.
That could benefit Miami this summer. But in the short term, starting with the Kings game, the Heat have unclogged their guard rotation, which still includes starters Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson and backups Dwyane Wade, Dion Waiters and Rodney McGruder. Goran Dragic, an All-Star point guard in 2017, is on injured reserve with a knee injury but could return this month.
On Tuesday night, the Heat started a six-game road trip with an impressive 118-108 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Center Hassan Whiteside led Miami with 28 points and 11 rebounds.
"Hassan was engaged," said Wade, who added 22 points and nine rebounds. "We heard his voice talking to us on both ends of the floor."
Curiously, the Heat are playing better on the road than at home this season. They are 14-11 on the road and 11-16 at home. In fact, they just finished a terrible 0-3 home stretch.
Sacramento, however, is tough at home, posting a 17-11 record in its arena this season.
It will be interesting to see how much -- if at all -- the recent trade acquisitions for Miami and Sacramento will impact Friday's game.
Barnes, acquired from the Dallas Mavericks, figures to help the Kings. He was removed in the middle of Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Hornets but remained on the Dallas bench in a show of support.
"He's a better man than me," Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said. "Everybody else would've bounced out (and left the arena).
"Harrison is just a genuinely good dude."
Besides being "a good dude," Barnes has the talent to help end Sacramento's 12-year playoff drought. The 6-foot-8 forward was a McDonald's All-American in high school, a star at North Carolina, a first-round pick (seventh overall) in 2012, an NBA All-Rookie selection in 2013 and a league champion as the Golden State Warriors' fifth-leading scorer in 2014-2015.
In 204 games with Dallas, he averaged 18.8 points and 5.2 rebounds, but some analysts believe he is more of a role player than an "alpha dog" leader.
As for the players traded away, the aging Randolph has yet to play this season due to injuries, but Shumpert and Jackson made solid contributions. Shumpert, known for his tough defense, was seventh on the team in scoring (8.9), and he started 40 of his 42 games. Jackson was eighth in scoring (6.7), and had played 49 of his 52 games coming off the bench.
The trade had strong Tar Heels ties as Jackson -- like Barnes -- is a former North Carolina first-rounder. Jackson was the 15th overall pick in 2017, but the Kings -- who are in the playoff hunt -- couldn't pass up the chance to get Barnes.
As for the Heat moves, Anderson is expected to be released by July. Ellington, a skilled 3-point shooter, had fallen out of the rotation, and trading Johnson gave Miami coach Erik Spoelstra a chance to give more minutes to Wade and Waiters.
Sacramento has won three straight games in its series against the Heat, including 123-113 decision in Miami on Oct. 29.
The Kings should be a tough out once again on Friday, led by young standouts such as Buddy Hield (averaging a team-high 20.4 points); De'Aaron Fox (17.5 points); Bogdan Bogdanovic (14.9 points); Marvin Bagley (13.2 points); and Willie Cauley-Stein (13.1 points).
--Field Level Media
Updated February 8, 2019