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No-brainer: Breaking down Heat's trade for Terry Rozier

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For a team that had visions of a seismic addition to the roster just a few months ago, the Miami Heat's acquisition of Terry Rozier might seem underwhelming. But the ways in which Rozier can help the Heat - and the meager price paid to acquire him - make this a no-brainer.

Among the ruins of another lost season in Charlotte, Rozier has quietly put together a career year. Now in his ninth season, Rozier's averaging career highs in points (23.2) and assists (6.6). Those numbers aren't solely attributable to a personal best in minutes - his improved efficiency has been the real story.

The dearth of meaningful offensive talent around him on the injury-ravaged Hornets has led to a career-high usage rate and 57.1% of his field goals being self-created (unassisted). Despite that increased workload, the 29-year-old is shooting a career-high 53.3% inside the arc, 35.8% from deep on nearly eight 3-point attempts per game, and 84.5% from the free-throw line.

Among 120 players posting a usage rate of at least 20%, Rozier's points per shot attempt ranks 53rd, according to Cleaning The Glass. That's not mind-blowing by any stretch, but it's above average for a combo guard of Rozier's offensive responsibilities. Digging deeper reveals that the veteran guard is exactly the type of player Miami was wise to target at a reduced rate.

Rozier's ability to beat his man off the dribble and get to the teeth of a defense should help a 20th-ranked Heat offense that is third worst in getting to the rim, according to Cleaning The Glass. That north-south boost should also help create more looks from deep, where the Heat rank eighth in accuracy but 15th in frequency.

Rozier will help ease the burden on Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro while providing Miami a productive option to pair with Bam Adebayo in a two-man game. Among 83 players who've run at least 100 possessions as the pick-and-roll ball-handler this season, Rozier has been the league's fourth-most efficient at 1.11 points per possession.

Without shopping in the All-Star aisle (which likely wouldn't be possible given Miami's available trade capital), Rozier was likely Miami's best remaining option on the trade market if the Heat were looking to grease the wheels of their creaky offense, whether he's starting or coming off the bench.

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You could argue Miami is still missing the type of pure point guard and floor general that contenders need, but if any team or system is equipped to overcome that, it's Erik Spoelstra's Heat. Miami gets playmaking from all over the floor in its movement-heavy attack, and though Rozier's not a natural playmaker, his 6.6 assists per game would easily lead his new team. You might not expect it given Rozier's almost playground style of creation, but he also does a good job of taking care of the ball, turning it over on less than 10% of possessions.

Though his size limits him on the defensive end, Rozier is at least a plucky defender and should see a boost from both increased stakes and Miami's demands.

He's not Damian Lillard or anything in the realm of an equivalent talent, but Rozier's a great addition at this point in the season. The defending Eastern Conference champions - who are hanging in the East's top six despite Butler, Adebayo, and Herro all missing between 10 and 19 games this season - are better and more dynamic today.

By replacing Kyle Lowry's expiring contract with Rozier's deal, the Heat also gave themselves an extra trade chip in the future. With his improved play and $51.6 million owed to him over the next two years, Rozier's contract suddenly seems like a team-friendly bargain in the current cap environment. A movable, midsize deal that takes up less than 18% of the projected cap in 2024-25 and 2025-26 could be key for a team lacking overwhelming draft assets or young talent.

Moving some of the little draft capital Miami had left has its risks. The lottery-protected 2027 first-rounder headed to Charlotte in this deal converts to an unprotected pick in 2028, by which time the contracts of Butler, Adebayo, and Herro will have expired. But the Heat aren't as concerned about the value of faraway picks as the majority of the league might be. If any market (outside of Los Angeles) should have confidence in its ability to attract a star when it needs to remain competitive, it's Miami.

Given Rozier's performance and contract, the Hornets only acquiring one pick is the disappointing part of this deal. Under new ownership, Charlotte appears to be signaling it has the appetite for another teardown to continue building its program around LaMelo Ball and 2023 No. 2 pick Brandon Miller. But it feels like the Hornets left some value on the table in moving Rozier, arguably the best veteran trade chip they had.

As for Lowry, contending teams are likely to come calling, but as a low-usage caretaker at this point in his career, how much would they really give up? The Hornets may ultimately just need to buy Lowry out and allow the 37-year-old the freedom of in-season free agency. If that happens, the Lakers and Lowry's hometown 76ers make for sound landing spots.

Joseph Casciaro is theScore's senior content producer.

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