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Thursday, June 28, 2012
Heat draft Moultrie, deal pick to Sixers

By Michael Wallace

MIAMI -- Apparently, the Miami Heat will wait until free agency starts this weekend to make any significant upgrades to their championship roster.

The Heat technically used the No. 27 pick in Thursday's NBA draft to select Mississippi State big man Arnett Moultrie, but quickly dealt the SEC's leading rebounder in 2011-12 to the Philadelphia 76ers.

In exchange, the Heat received from the Sixers a future first-round pick and the No. 45 pick in Thursday's draft, which Miami used to select LSU center Justin Hamilton, who is expected to sent overseas for development next season. The first-round pick is lottery protected through the next three seasons, meaning the Heat will get the pick as soon as next season if Philadelphia makes the playoffs.

By trading the first-round pick, the high-salaried Heat gain financial flexibility. For now, they won't have to add a guaranteed two-year contract commitment to a payroll that already exceeds the NBA's $70.3 million luxury-tax limit. The league's luxury-tax penalties become more punitive after next season under the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement.

The Heat have traded several of their future first-round picks to Cleveland and Toronto to complete sign-and-trade deals that brought LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami in the summer of 2010.

Thursday's move by the Heat comes in direct contrast to the plan the team laid out during Wednesday's pre-draft media session with reporters. Chet Kammerer, the Heat's vice president for player personnel, said that Miami intended to draft a player with the No. 27 pick who could contribute immediately and complement James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

In fact, Kammerer also suggested the Heat likely wouldn't trade out of the pick and move into the second round. He didn't believe Miami would have a chance to draft any of the top power forwards or centers they rated on their board to address a need in the post.

But Moultrie, an athletic, 6-foot-11 rebounder and defender, seemed to be just the kind of player Miami could use to add depth to a front line that featured Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony. The Heat had success in the postseason by playing a smaller lineup that saw shooting specialist Shane Battier at power forward.

The Heat also had other intriguing options available on the board when they chose at No. 27, including Baylor's Perry Jones III and Vanderbilt's Festus Ezeli, among others. It is the second time in recent years that Miami made a draft-night deal with Philadelphia. In 2007, the Heat swapped first-round picks with the Sixers to acquire guard Daequan Cook.

The only real activity the Heat had during the first round Thursday was produced by LeBron James' official Twitter account. James, the Most Valuable Player of the regular season and NBA Finals, tweeted early in the first round that his son had asked if the Heat would acquire Boston Celtics guard Ray Allen in free agency.

"I said, I don't know. I hope so," James tweeted, in response to his son's question.

Later, James also tweeted a message in support of Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger, who was selected by Boston with the No. 21 pick after once being projected as a lottery pick.