How Tyler Herro’s polarizing game is impacting trade talks for Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell

Ask 50 executives and coaches, and the gap between answers will be wider than for possibly any other NBA player. You hear everything from “All-Star” to “Lou Williams/Jamal Crawford 2.0” — a one-way bench scorer who will get exposed on defense in the playoffs.

After following his Sixth Man of the Year runaway with a shaky, injury-marred postseason — Herro averaged 13 points on 41% shooting, including an ugly 23% on 3s — Herro is perhaps the most polarizing high-wattage player in the NBA. He has reached this strange point just as he becomes the key veteran in any potential Miami Heat trade package for Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, or whichever star becomes available next. The Heat so far have not gotten much traction on either front, sources say, but they are still trying and can never be counted out.

If Miami pulls off a superstar trade, it’s going to be in part because the team on the other end is higher on Herro than consensus.

The Heat cannot match the New York Knicks or other rivals on the trade scene in future first-round picks. They have little history of bottoming out; would-be trade partners do not expect Miami to ever yield anything like the bounty the Brooklyn Nets coughed up to the Boston Celtics in the disastrous 2013 deal involving Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

Staying good and trading past picks has left the Heat with no real arsenal of high-upside young guys operating on a different timeline than its core — nothing close to the Golden State Warriors’ contingent of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody. Trading anyone from their veteran core beyond Herro and maybe Kyle Lowry for even someone as transcendent as Durant might leave the Heat too thin to win it all.

That concern is mostly about Bam Adebayo. Trading both Herro and Adebayo in some megadeal for Durant could leave the Heat reconfigured around Lowry, Durant, and Jimmy Butler — ages 36, 33, and 32, respectively. Trading the motherlode of picks for guys in their 30s can end very badly.

It’s easier to manufacture semi-workable facsimiles of Lowry and Herro than to replace a switchable force field with playmaking skills like Adebayo. Getting something in addition to Durant could cushion the blow, but it’s unlikely that “something” would be a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate and point-center.

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