Shabazz Napier‘s tenure with the Miami Heat was doomed almost from the start. After Napier led UConn to the 2014 NCAA Championship, LeBron James tweeted a not-so-subtle message to Heat brass that he believed the Final Four MOP was the best point guard in that draft class. And since he is LeBron James, the Heat acquiesced and acquired Napier from the Charlotte Hornets on draft day.
Then LeBron went home to Cleveland and Napier subsequently embarked on a rookie season marred by injury and largely uninspired play. When the Heat pulled a major coup at the February trade deadline and snagged Goran Dragic from the Suns, it was a deal that also sent Norris Cole to the Pelicans but still left the lingering question of what to do with the remaining redundancies in the backcourt, i.e. Napier and Mario Chalmers.
The Heat took care of one of those issues today when they traded Napier to the Orlando Magic for a future second-round pick. It was a move that also cleared some sorely-needed cap space, as the Heat were set to pay the repeater tax after extending massive contracts to several of their core players. Here’s more from Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
“The Magic will send the Heat a heavily protected 2016 second-round pick in return. The deal is essentially a cash dump for the Heat.
Offloading Napier into the Magic’s cap space could save the Heat about $4.5 million in salary and luxury taxes. The Heat are currently in position to be the first team to pay the penal repeater tax this season.”
For Napier, it’s a situation that could potentially be better for his career, as he will likely play backup to starting point guard Elfrid Payton on a very young team that is looking toward the future rather than trying to win now, like the Heat.