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2024 NBA trade season just keeps on spinning. This time around, it was the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat swapping veteran guards in a move that makes sense for both franchises.

Here are the particulars:

Charlotte Hornets acquire: Kyle Lowry, lottery-protected 2027 Heat first-round pick

Miami Heat acquire: Terry Rozier III

This is a fun trade between two division rivals. Let’s dive in!

Miami Heat

Incoming salary: $23.3 million in 2023-24

  • Terry Rozier III (PG/SG, three years, $74.8 million, $23.3 million in 2023-24)

Outgoing salary: $29.7 million in 2023-24

The Miami Heat’s season hasn’t gone exactly as hoped for. The Heat haven’t been bad, but they are in a battle to stay in the top-six and out of the Play-In Tournament. One issue for Miami has been their guard play.

That’s solved by acquiring Terry Rozier III.

Rozier is having the best season of his nine-year NBA career. He’s averaging a career-high 23.2 points and 6.6 assist per game. And they aren’t empty stats either, as Rozier has been efficient this season. He’s shot 45.9% from the field and 35.8% from behind the arc. That’s even more impressive when you factor in that he’s spent long stretches of the season as Charlotte’s best on-ball creator.

On defense. Rozier has slipped some from his days with the Boston Celtics. He’s no longer the bulldog defender he was in Boston, but Rozier is better than he’s showed with Charlotte. He should fit in nicely with the Heat, where having good defenders around him, and something to play for, will help him lift his game.

Losing Lowry is probably more of a shock to the system than it is an on-court impact. Lowry has continued a four-year trend of taking fewer shots than the season before. He’s around his career shooting percentages from the field and on three-pointers, but creating shots has become a challenge. He’s no longer able to create good shots for himself, and that has also limited his ability to create good looks for his teammates.

Lowry’s defense has also slipped considerably. He’s not quick enough to keep up with the better guards, so he gets by on positioning, guile and veteran know-how. But that only goes so far, especially with the Heat dreaming about making another deep playoff run. Rozier will be an upgrade over Lowry on defense, even in his diminished state.

On the cap sheet, Miami is taking on a decent chunk of change long-term. The Heat moved off almost $6.5 million for this season. That gets Miami within about $4.1 million of dropping below the first tax apron. 

That’s important if the Heat wanted get involved on the buyout market. Under the new CBA, teams that are above the apron are prohibited from signing buyout players who made more than the Non-Taxpayer MLE on their previous contract.

Long-term, Miami adds $24.9 million for Rozier for 2024-25 and $26.6 million for 2025-26. The final season of Rozier’s deal is partially guaranteed for nearly the full amount. That season also becomes fully guaranteed if Rozier’s team (now the Heat) makes the second round of the playoffs in either 2024 or 2025, and if Rozier appears in at least 70 games. Essentially, consider both of Rozier’s seasons beyond this one to be fully guaranteed.

That’s not really a big concern for the Heat. Miami projects to be well over the cap for the next two seasons. Acquiring Rozier will have the Heat dancing around the tax apron again next season, but that’s something the Miami front office has become used to.

For what it’s worth, the Heat also created a $6.5 million Traded Player Exception (TPE) in this deal. Miami could use that TPE to absorb a smaller-salaried player ahead of the trade deadline.

Charlotte Hornets

Incoming salary: $29.7 million in 2023-24

Outgoing salary: $23.3 million in 2023-24

  • Terry Rozier III (PG/SG, three years, $74.8 million, $23.3 million in 2023-24)

This trade was about creating future flexibility for the Hornets. It’s been reported that Kyle Lowry and Charlotte won’t agree to an immediate buyout. The Hornets will look to trade Lowry in an addition deal, as they look to continue to add to their asset base.

It’s also been reported that the Hornets are open to moving other players, as they look for draft picks and increased flexibility ahead of the 2024 offseason. It’s assumed that the only off-limits players on Charlotte’s roster are LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller and Mark Williams. Everyone else is likely available for the right price.

On the court, this trade will have little impact for the Hornets. They are a bad team, and will continue to be so. What this does in the immediate is free up a bit of a logjam when everyone is healthy. For however long they are all on the roster, Charlotte now has starting spots and minutes for all of their guards and wings. To that end, it will be somewhat of a surprise if Lowry suits up for the Hornets before the trade deadline, if ever.

On the cap sheet, the Hornets have freed up a considerable amount of flexibility. Pre-trade, Charlotte was projected to have about $21.7 million in cap space this offseason. Now, the Hornets project to have around $45.5 million in cap space this summer.

No, Charlotte isn’t a prime free agent destination. But cap space can be used to acquire players via trade, or to make the trade process far easier. The Hornets could also take a longer-term approach and “rent out” some cap space in exchange for draft picks and/or young players.

Mostly, the Hornets have created a lot of flexibility for a team that has been basically capped out over the last few seasons. If Charlotte continues to move veteran players like Miles Bridges, Gordon Hayward, P.J. Washington and others, they’ll have a chance to rebuild their roster around Ball, Miller, Williams and a bunch of draft picks and young players.

The key? The Hornets can’t get impatient this time around. They were in cap jail for years, got free and immediately signed Hayward to a questionable contract. If Charlotte sells off their vets, they can’t turn around and sign Tier C free agents to long-term, big-money contracts. Stay the course, build around your cornerstones and find values through your signings and trades. That’s the winning playbook for a small market team. And the Hornets are now set up to be on their way.