Heat trading Dedmon to Spurs, giving Miami more space under tax line. And a Lowry update

Al Diaz/adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Heat agreed to trade center Dewayne Dedmon to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday in a move that creates flexibility for the Heat to convert undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson from a two-way contract to a standard deal, add a player in a trade before Thursday’s deadline and/or in the free agent and buyout market afterward.

Miami traded Dedmon and an unprotected 2028 second-round pick to the Spurs for cash considerations. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and players did not comment on the move following Tuesday’s practice at Miami-Dade Arena because the trade was not made official until later in the day.

The Spurs had the cap space to absorb Dedmon’s $4.7 million salary without sending a player back to the Heat.

Before the trade, the Heat had less than $200,000 in space under the luxury tax threshold. By unloading Dedmon without taking a player back in return, the Heat is now about $4.9 million under the tax line.

That means Miami can take in more salary back than it trades out — about $4.9 million more — and remain under the tax if the Heat makes another deal this week.

The Heat also now has the space on its roster and under the luxury tax line to add two players on contracts at the minimum or slightly above.

Miami has been playing with only 14 players on standard contracts this season, one below the league maximum.

Tuesday’s trade leaves the Heat with 13 players on standard contracts — teams are permitted to carry 13 players for only up to two weeks before being required to add a 14th. The Heat also has two players on two-way deals (Robinson and Jamal Cain).

If the Heat had stuck with Dedmon and the remainder of its current roster, Miami would not have been able to add a 15th player while staying under the tax line until late March — about 10 days before the end of the regular season.

The Heat is expected to be a luxury tax team next season. Avoiding the tax line this season keeps the clock from starting toward the punitive repeater tax, which is triggered when a team is in the luxury tax at least three times during a four-year period.

By trading Dedmon to the Spurs, the Heat also created a $4.7 million trade exception that it has a year to use. Trade exceptions allow teams to trade for a player whose salary fits or players whose salaries combine to fit into the exception without having to send back salary to match, but trade exceptions can’t be combined with a player to acquire a more expensive salary.

Before Dedmon was used for 12 minutes in Saturday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, he hadn’t played since he was suspended one game by the team for arguing with coaches and throwing medical equipment on the court during a Jan. 10 game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Dedmon struggled this season as the Heat’s backup center. Miami was outscored by 101 points in 350 minutes with Dedmon on the court — the third-worst plus/minus in the league for a player on a team with a winning record.

Dedmon, 33, made 113 appearances over three seasons for the Heat, including 15 starts, and averaged 6.2 points and 5.1 rebounds. He dealt with plantar fasciitis this season.

Center Omer Yurtseven, who hasn’t played this season following November ankle surgery, has been cleared to resume full contact work and is expected back after the All Star Game.

But Robinson, who recently took over for Dedmon as the Heat’s backup center, said Tuesday he’s ready to return for Wednesday’s home game against the Indiana Pacers after missing just a week with a fractured right thumb. That injury often sidelines players for a month, but Robinson said he received positive news in a medical evaluation and plans to resume playing immediately after testing out the thumb in Tuesday’s practice.

“It hurts a little bit, but not too much to where I can’t play,” Robinson said. “I got my body working, my feet are fine, I can move, I can rebound. I can’t shoot a three, but I wasn’t doing that anyway. Hook shots, touch shots, I’m good. That’s all I’m shooting anyway.”

Robinson can be on the Heat’s active roster for just nine more games this regular season as part of his two-way contract before he’s forced to log the rest of his game minutes in the G League. But the Heat now has enough space to convert Robinson to a standard contract in order to bypass those restrictions while still avoiding the tax — a move that would make him eligible for every remaining Heat game this season, including the playoffs.

The Heat continues to search for a power rotation player before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Guard Kyle Lowry remains among Heat players available in trade talks, but Lowry’s knee injury could be an impediment in any potential deal. The Heat announced that Lowry is out for at least the next three games — Wednesday vs. Pacers, Friday vs. Houston Rockets and Saturday at Orlando Magic — because of ongoing left knee soreness and then will be further evaluated.

The Heat has just five games left to play before the All-Star break.

Lowry missed four games and underwent a minor medical procedure because of soreness in the same knee in mid-January.

“I think this is just what you deal with in a long NBA season,” Spoelstra said of Lowry following Tuesday’s practice. “There’s going to be unpredictable things. The encouraging thing about it is there doesn’t need to be a procedure or anything like that. We just need to calm it down and that’s where we are right now.”

Dedmon’s two-year deal with the Heat, signed in July, includes a fully non-guaranteed $4.3 million salary for next season. The Spurs are unlikely to guarantee that 2023-24 salary and could waive him in the weeks ahead.


Along with Lowry, Nikola Jovic (back), Yurtseven (ankle), Victor Oladipo (ankle) and Duncan Robinson (finger) remain out for the Heat on Wednesday against the Pacers.

While Yurtseven was recently cleared to resume contact work, Spoelstra said Jovic and Robinson have also made positive progress in their recoveries after sitting out the last month of games.

“They’re both progressing really well,” Spoelstra said of Jovic and Robinson. “If you ask each of them, they’re way ahead of schedule. So that’s where we just have to be very prudent on what that next step will be. They’re getting closer.”

Oladipo will miss his third straight game on Wednesday with a sprained right ankle.

“It’s a part of the game,” Oladipo said Tuesday. “It’s the beauty of playing, you get a little banged up. It’s a part of life. But I’m good, I’m doing better. I just got to see how it feels day in and day out.”

In addition, Cain (G League) is questionable for the Heat. Orlando Robinson (thumb) and Gabe Vincent (ankle) are listed as probable.