MIAMI — Last June, the Heat liked a player enough, Norris Cole, to trade into the first round.
Thursday, Miami didn't like anyone enough to stay in it.
Even with several potential fits available at No. 27, including athletic Baylor forward Perry Jones III, do-everything Michigan State forward Draymond Green and center Festus Ezeli. Instead, Miami picked another player who appeared capable of providing front court depth, Mississippi State forward Arnett Moultrie, and sent him to the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 45 pick and a future first-rounder.
That first-round pick is lottery-protected in 2013, 2014 and 2015, meaning Miami will receive it after the first season that the 76ers make the playoffs. If Miami has not gotten the choice by 2015, it will receive an additional 2016 second-round pick from Philadelphia.
That player would be no more likely to make an impact than the one the Heat selected at No. 45 on Thursday: 7-foot center Justin Hamilton, who transferred to LSU from Iowa State after his sophomore season, and then left after averaging 12.9 points and 7.2 rebounds as a junior.
If the 2012 draft is remembered at all, it may be more for the guys the Heat didn't draft, and the guy it drafted and traded, as the guy it drafted to keep. One pick after the Heat traded out of the No. 27 slot, Oklahoma City took Jones, who had been projected as a lottery pick but slid in the draft due to questions about his effort level and his knee.
As for Moultrie, also 6-foot-11, he led the SEC in rebounding last season .
Still, moving down to No. 45 wasn't all that surprising, even after Heat Vice President of Player Personnel Chet Kammerer said Wednesday that the Heat would likely use its first-round selection, likely wouldn't trade into the second round, wanted to get someone who could contribute immediately, wasn't necessarily targeting a "big," and had identified a lot of draft depth between the 20 and 40 spots.
The Heat's owner, Micky Arison, has the potential to capitalize financially on the Heat's championship, but is still staring down the barrel of luxury tax penalties, which will escalate over the length of his stars' contracts. The trade allowed the Heat to avoid awarding a two-year guaranteed contract (roughly $1.8 million, but double that after the tax) that comes with taking someone in the first round, to instead use that slot on another veteran. Second-round selections do not require guarantees, though the Heat gave one to Mario Chalmers in 2008.
Without a major addition in the draft, Miami will count upon the development of Cole and free agent Terrel Harris in upcoming summer league play.
It also could choose to bring back center Dexter Pittman, who received more playing time in his second season. And the Heat will turn to free agency starting July 1, though even if it uses the amnesty clause on Mike Miller, it will have limited flexibility, with only the use of the mini-midlevel exception (up to three years, $9 million) and veteran minimums.
One target could be Boston guard Ray Allen.
During the draft, LeBron James tweeted that his son Bryce asked if Allen was "gonna play for the Heat," to which he responded, "I don't know, I hope so."
That addition would get Heat fans more excited than anything that occurred Thursday.