Coming out of Kansas, Mario Chalmers was a solid combo guard who really put his name on the map when he sonned Derrick Rose with a clutch bucket in the National Title Game (after Rose split a pair of crucial free throws):
Kansas won that game and Chalmers won Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, and he was later selected 34th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves that summer before, ironically, getting traded to the Miami Heat.
For a second-round pick, Chalmers has had a pretty decent career as a shooter, defender and cog of playoff and championship teams.
I mean, look at Chalmers’s productivity in the NBA Finals — you know, where it all counts — compared to other elite point guards in the NBA:
**The chart is 100% accurate but is skewed because of pretty obvious reasons…just let Rio have this one**
Despite being the third-longest tenured member on the Heat behind Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, and despite being a two-time NBA champion and a starter throughout most of his career (roughly 73 percent of his career games), Chalmers still can’t catch a break.
There were rumbles earlier this summer that, in an attempt to lower their luxury tax bill, Miami was shopping Chalmers and his $4.3 million expiring deal. Those talks died down for a while, but picked back up last week when ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Heat and Grizzlies had began discussions around a trade involving Chalmers.
Miami’s looming tax bill, the long-term commitment to Goran Dragic, the decision to draft combo guard Josh Richardson in the second round this summer and the emergence of spark plug Tyler Johnson have all made Chalmers more expendable than ever. It’s just a numbers game — one that Chalmers has found himself on the wrong side of.
I’ve attempted to construct some possible deals that Miami could look to do or would be willing to accept, but two things were kept in mind.
1. In a best-case scenario, Miami wants to receive little or no salary in return in a deal for Chalmers to alleviate their tax bill.
2. If Miami does trade for a player with an equal or slightly higher salary than Chalmers’s deal, I’d assume they’d want the player to be able to help them immediately (likely a shooter), but they’d also want the deal to be an expiring so it won’t affect their 2016 offseason.
TRADE PROPOSAL #1
Let me preface this by saying I just don’t see Memphis as a realistic trade destination for Chalmers. Mike Conley is obviously the starter, and I like Beno Udrih as the backup point guard and mid-range virtuoso. For whatever reason, Memphis is interested, so here’s the money-saving offer Miami could go for.
By trading for Barnes, Miami would save around $1.6 million in cap space, and even more money in taxes. They’d also add a rugged veteran presense to their bench who can defend 3s or small-ball 4s and knock down corner threes when needed.
This just seems like a bit of a lateral move for the Grizzlies, though they could choose to waive Ennis and his non-guaranteed deal.
TRADE PROPOSAL #2
This would likely require the Heat to throw in a pick as well (their 2018 2nd rounder?) to entice Memphis to part ways with Lee.
If this were to go through, Lee could certainly help Miami on the perimeter as a defender and shooter. He’s versatile enough to play the 2 or 3, and could also serve as a bit of Gerald Green insurance if he’s cold (or if he plays his usual subpar defense).
TRADE PROPOSAL #3
HEAT RECEIVE: F/G Chris Johnson, 2017 second-round pick (31-50 protected),
JAZZ RECEIVE: Mario Chalmers
Finally, we’re out of Memphis and on to a more plausible destination for Chalmers. According to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, the Jazz actually made a play for Chalmers over the summer to no avail:
If Chalmers is actually going to get dealt, sending him to Utah makes the most sense for both parties involved. Utah has the cap space necessary to absorb Chalmers’s contract, but Utah also makes sense as a short-term destination because its point guard of the future, Dante Exum, is out for the year following an ACL tear. That certainly makes Chalmers’s expiring contract more convenient as it doesn’t affect their cap or their long-term plans.
Chalmers has shown he can play either guard spot in small lineups, and doesn’t necessarily need the ball to be effective offensively. Assuming Utah is content with Raul Neto as the starter, the Jazz could survive with a Trey Burke-Chalmers backcourt in small doses.
Miami would get the cap relief it’s seeking as well as a trade exception worth roughly $3.3 million ($3,328,652 if you want the exact figure). Assuming they waive Chris Johnson, whose contract ($981,348) is fully non-guaranteed, Miami would shave valuable money off its tax bill and open up a roster spot if needed.