Heat trade Joel Anthony to Celtics, acquire Toney Douglas from Warriors

Center Joel Anthony became expendable when the Miami Heat acquired Chris "Birdman" Andersen last season. (File)

In a move that will lighten the Miami Heat’s payroll and luxury tax bill, the team shipped seldom-used center Joel Anthony to the Boston Celtics in a three-team trade Wednesday.

The Heat received guard Toney Douglas from the Golden State Warriors in the trade.

“It’s always difficult trading a player like Joel who was a big part of the past two championship teams and will always be a part of the Miami Heat family,” said Heat president Pat Riley. “This trade gives us great flexibility moving forward in our journey to win an NBA Championship. Joel was a true professional who worked hard every day, and we wish him the best in the future.”


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The other part of the trade included the Celtics trading guards Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks to the Warriors. The Heat also sent a future first-round and second-pick, both acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers, to the Celtics.

The move will save the Heat about $10 million in salary and luxury. Anthony was set to make $3.8 million this and next season while Douglas ($1.6 million) becomes a free agent this summer. Anthony, who became expendable when the team signed Chris “Birdman” Andersen last season, averaged just 3.1 minutes in 12 games this season.

He was the longest-tenured current Heat player other than Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, playing 6 1/2  seasons in Miami. He appeared in 382 career games (110 starts) and averaged 2.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.27 blocks while shooting 50.8 percent from the field.

He started 51 games in 2011-12 before eventually seeing his role diminish the next two years.
“It’s tough,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We love Joel. He was the last center to start for Pat, so he’s been here for a long time. To see him come through our gym the very first day and then commit himself 100 percent and push himself harder than most players, he’s earned everything he’s gotten in this league … We obviously wish him the best.”

It leaves guard Norris Cole and forward Udonis Haslem as the only Heat players under guaranteed contract for the 2014-15 season.

“It’s part of the business that you don’t like,” Wade said. “Someone who’s been there and has done nothing wrong in the sense of Joel coming in and putting in the work every day. It’s a part of it but the human part, it sucks. It was hard for us earlier in the day, being with him and finding out.”

The freed money in cap space and luxury tax gives the Heat more flexibility in making possible immediate roster moves. More importantly, it could help their cause if LeBron James, Wade or Chris Bosh decide to become free agents this summer.

Riley squashed the idea of the move being made to potentially sign free agent Andrew Bynum. If they were to waive Douglas, it would have been an option but Riley called it “speculation.” Bynum was recently cut by the Chicago Bulls after being traded from Cleveland.

Riley said he and the rest of the Heat’s management team will meet in the coming days to discuss any possible additions.

“There will be a tremendous amount of research,” Riley said. “…We’ll meet for two days on personnel and on things of that nature and stuff but there’s nothing going on at all. There’s nothing happening at all with that (Bynum) situation.”

Douglas, who starred at Florida State, played for four teams (New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Warriors) during his five-year NBA career after being drafted in the first round (29th) in 2009. In 24 games this season with the Warriors, he averaged 3.7 points in 11 minutes per contest. He has career averages of 8.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 270 games (30 starts).

“Toney Douglas, we knew him from Florida State,” Riley said. “We scouted him heavily, worked him out and probably that year we thought about maybe picking him … This could be a good opportunity for him.”

srichardson@tribune.com