That Heat president Pat Riley is still operating on West Coast time, for one thing. The Heat announced at 11 p.m. Thursday that it had dealt seldom-used center Mark Blount back to Minnesota in exchange for veteran swingman Quentin Richardson.
The deal also means plenty of other things for the Heat. Let us count the ways.
1. Pat Riley finally made an offseason move that could improve the team a bit next season. The Heat had been one of only two teams in the league to stand pat with regards to making a new veteran addition to its roster this offseason.
2. The move brings better balance to Miami's roster. Blount was one of four centers on a roster that was all too thin on the perimeter, particularly at point guard.
3. Richardson could challenge for the starting small forwardspot or provide a nice boost off the bench. He is a career 11.5 ppg. scorer who added five boards a game over the course of his nine-year career.
4. This has to make Wade at least a wee bit happy. Not that Q-Rich makes the Heat a title contender next season (he doesn't). But he is good friends with Wade and can ease some of Wade's frustrations and questions about the roster heading into free agency.
5. The Heat does move a couple million more into luxury taxterritory. Blount and Richardson both have contracts that expire next summer, but by sending out Blount's $7.9 million and taking back Richardson's $9.3 million (as a team already in the tax), the Heat moves from about $2 million to about $5 million deeper into the tax based on Riley's recent estimates.
6. This move has no affect on the Heat's priorities to maintain significant cap space for 2010, when it hopes to resign Wade to a six-year, $120 million contract and also add another top-tier free agent from a class that could be highlighted by LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and Joe Johnson.
7. There still is a need at point guard, unless Wade is committed to playing a lot of minutes at that position again. In that case, the Heat could go with a big backcourt with Wade and Richardson in moments when Mario Chalmers is on the bench. Otherwise, there is still a need for point guard help. Chalmers and Chris Quinn are all that's there on the roster at that position.
8. Considering the slightly higher luxury-tax bill, this could be the unofficial end to any interest the Heat had in acquiring Allen Iverson. There already were concerns about potentially getting everyone enough shots before Richardson came aboard. Iverson, a pure scorer, won't be needed as much. But Jamaal Tinsley and Flip Murray (or anyone capable of being a pure point guard) could still be added for the NBA-funded veteran's minimum.
9. Now that Richardson is a member of the Heat, the Southeast Division now boasts the most-traveled player (Richardson, four teams in one summer) and coach (Larry Brown, coached nine different teams).
10. Those minutes at small forward that were supposed to go Michael Beasley's way might be a bit less availableif he's unable to improve his perimeter defensive skills. On top of that, James Jones, Daequan Cook and Dorell Wright may have just fallen farther back in line in the rotation pecking order.