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Upward (Draft) Mobility?

The latest workout session at AmericanAirlines Arena had the Heat on Tuesday hosting yet another Hayward2  prospect projected to be off the board well before Miami is set to pick at No. 18.

So that begs two questions.

First, is Pat Riley and the front-office staff seriously considering a trade up in the draft as part of a picks/players package deal? And two, if not, is the Heat so confident in the parity of this class that it is betting players projected in the lottery will fall several slots down the board?

Butler forward Gordon Hayward was the latest lottery-regarded prospect to work out for the Heat on Tuesday. For those in need of a refresher, it was Gordon who led the Bulldogs on that miraculous run to the NCAA Tournament championship game against Duke.

It was also Hayward who missed two heartbreaking shots in the final minute, including a halfcourt heave that nearly banked in at the buzzer for the victory.

What was interesting about Hayward's presence Tuesday is that he is one of at least a half dozen lottery prospects the Heat has worked out in recent days. His audition in front of Riley came on the heels of previous in-house sessions with Kentucky's Pat Patterson, Nevada's Luke Babbitt, Kansas' Xavier Henry, Fresno State's Paul George and Texas' Avery Bradley among other top players.

The one thing they have in common: Mock drafts have them going anywhere between the No. 7 and No. 15 picks. Of course, those mock drafts change daily and aren't always the most reliable sources of team interest in certain players.

But the point is, the Heat is working out players who seem to be above its reach - unless Riley is considering tilting that board in Miami's favor. As it stands, the Heat holds picks Nos. 41, 42 and 48 in the second round in addition to its first-round selection.

The team is all over the map when it comes to draft needs, or genuine interest in the draft at all. One thing's for certain: Riley has been relentless in his pre-draft work in recent weeks.

That work ethic and across-the-board poking and prodding of prospects comes only a month after Riley, in his season-ending press conference, talked about how little he likes to the use the draft to retool the roster and build a foundation. He talked about how the draft - when the Heat is positioned outside the lottery - comes in a distant third to free agency and trades when it comes to his philosophy of molding a contender.

Having said that, there is also considerable chatter that no fewer than four teams in the lottery are looking to deal picks. And the Heat has been know to have its hands or ears in every trade discussion going on around the league.

At a time when all indications are that the Heat wants to create as much salary-cap space as possible to enhance an already strong position in free agency, there could be a parallel plan in place with the draft.

Haward Halfcourt shot Perhaps Pat likes what he sees as he breaks down the class, and is willing to make a deal.

Or maybe Pat is just playing the percentages, with expectations that someone's stock will drop into the Heat's range on draft night and will be worth investing in on June 24.

In either case, the possibility of the Heat moving up in the draft might not be as much of a longshot as the one Hayward launched to nearly cap what would have been the most remarkable run in NCAA Tournament history.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)


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