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Luke Babbitt

Heat Notes: Dragic, Bosh, Babbitt

Goran Dragic, who was excited to be teamed with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh when he was swapped to the Heat at the 2014 trade deadline, may finish his career in Miami without either one, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Wade signed with the Bulls over the summer and Bosh faces an uncertain medical future after failing his training camp physical. That leaves Dragic as the team’s new leader, and he says he wants to embrace that role. “When you have D-Wade next to you, or C.B., then they can take the game in their hands immediately,” Dragic said. “Now, probably it’s going to be a little bit different. I’m ready. I already felt great last year at the end of the season.” Dragic has four seasons and more than $70MM left on his contract.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Miami has the option to apply for a Disabled Player Exception if its medical staff decides Bosh can’t play this season, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical. If an NBA-designated doctor agrees, the Heat would receive a $5.6MM exception that they can use until March 10th. The exception can be used to sign a free agent to a one-year contract or acquire a player with one season left on his current deal, either through trade or waivers. The Heat have 15 players with guaranteed contracts, including Bosh, so a roster spot would have to be cleared before the DPE could be used. However, the Heat may be looking to get the rest of Bosh’s remaining salary removed from their cap, which they can’t do if they use this exception.
  • Luke Babbitt may have changed teams, but his role will be the same, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Babbitt, who was acquired in a July trade with New Orleans, was used as a stretch four with the Pelicans to create room in the paint for Anthony Davis. With the Heat, he expects to create room for Hassan Whiteside and driving lanes for Dragic. “That’s what NBA offense is, is spacing,” Babbitt said. “So to give guys, to maximize those guys, Hassan, Goran, to open up driving lanes, you have to have people to space it out that can shoot, that’s the way the league is going now.” Babbitt, who just re-signed with the Pelicans last summer, said the trade caught him by surprise. “I didn’t really know it was coming,” he said. “But once I got the news, mentally it just totally shifted over and I was excited. I had a good couple of years in New Orleans, but with this kind of rebuilding group I feel like I kind of fit with what we’re trying to do here.”

Heat Notes: Udrih, Williams, Ellington, Bosh

The Heat could use a veteran like Beno Udrih to serve as a backup to Goran Dragic, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami doesn’t have anyone else on its roster who has played point guard on a regular basis at the NBA level, and Winderman points out that Dragic, who missed 10 games last season, is susceptible to injury with his attacking style of play. The Heat reportedly have a “standing invitation” for Udrih to join them in training camp on a veterans’ minimum contract if he can’t get a better deal elsewhere. Udrih played 36 games with Miami last season before agreeing to a buyout in February to help the team avoid the luxury tax.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • There could be a shortage of minutes on the front line for recent additions Derrick Williams, James Johnson and Luke Babbitt, Winderman notes in the same piece. They will essentially be competing at the same position, and shooting guards Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson could all see time at small forward because of an overcrowded backcourt.
  • Ellington is a prime candidate to be traded once this year’s offseason signees are eligible to be dealt starting December 15th, Winderman writes in a separate story. The Heat signed the 28-year-old shooting guard away from the Nets in July, but later added Waiters in free agency. Winderman believes Ellington will have to be exceptional from 3-point range to earn a regular spot in the Heat’s rotation. He shot 36% from long distance last season and is at 38% for his career.
  • The Heat are “cautiously optimistic” that Chris Bosh will be able to play this season, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. However, he cautions that nothing is certain with the veteran big man, who has had his last two seasons cut short by blood clots.

Heat Notes: Green, James, Wade, Riley

The addition of James Johnson, Derrick Williams and Wayne Ellington left no room in Miami for Gerald Green, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Green, who agreed to terms with the Celtics this morning, spent one season in Miami and saw his playing time decline steadily as the year wore on. He appeared in 69 games, starting 14, and averaged 8.9 points per night. Green had expressed a desire to return to Miami, Winderman writes, and the Heat could have offered the same $1.4MM deal he received from Boston. Miami made it clear that the 30-year-old swingman wasn’t in its plans by signing Johnson, Williams and Ellington to be part of an already crowded rotation that includes Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Tyler JohnsonAmar’e Stoudemire and Dorell Wright are now the only remaining unsigned free agents from the 2015/16 roster.

There’s more news out of Miami:  

  • As players become more powerful, the idea of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul on the same team becomes more likely, Winderman writes in another piece. During the season, James speculated on the possibility of the four friends someday joining forces.
  • Team president Pat Riley recently offered some insight on teaming up James, Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, Winderman relates in the same article. All three were slated to get max deals of $16.5MM per season, but they wanted to add Mike Miller and re-sign Udonis Haslem. Eventually, Wade volunteered to take less money, and James and Bosh agreed to sign-and trades. “The interesting part is on July 9th, they all agreed to come in on five-year deals, room only, so I didn’t have to give up any assets,” Riley said. “Then, at the 11th hour, they all wanted the sixth year. You know what that cost me and Andy [Elisburg, the Heat’s general manager]? That cost us four picks. I just said to them, ‘If you want the sixth year because I know you’re going to opt out after the fourth anyhow, but if you want the sixth year, I don’t want any of you to walk into my office and say, ‘Hey, can we get any young guys around here? Can we get some draft picks around here?’ Because they were gone.”
  • Riley’s decision to add more physical players this offseason was likely a matter of taking what was available on the market, rather than a strategy, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Winderman’s comment came in response to a reader’s question on whether acquiring Johnson, Williams, Luke Babbitt and Willie Reed would make the Heat more like the roster Riley had with the Knicks.

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Howard, Bazemore

Pat Riley anointed Justise Winslow as the Heat’s starting small forward for next season, but he hasn’t addressed the larger question of power forward, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Riley expressed his confidence in Winslow during a news conference Saturday, saying the rookie will be penciled in as the starting three for 2016/17. But if Chris Bosh isn’t medically cleared to play, that leaves Josh McRoberts, Luke Babbitt and Udonis Haslem as candidates to start alongside Winslow and Hassan Whiteside on the front line. Riley said even though Winslow is only 20, he’s ready to be an NBA starter. “I remember when James Worthy came to the Lakers and Jamaal Wilkes was incumbent,” Riley said, “and then there came that time, there came that time when it was just a matter of time when James Worthy was going to take his position.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Dwight Howard hopes his return home to Atlanta will revitalize his career, according to Steve Hummer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 30-year-old center, who signed a three-year deal worth $70.5MM with the Hawks, has even changed his number to 8 to signify “a new beginning.” Howard insists that his back, which required surgery in 2012, is no longer a problem. “My back hasn’t been an issue,” he said, “and I don’t think I’ll ever have an issue out of my back for the rest of my career.”
  • Kent Bazemore‘s comments at the press conference after he re-signed with the Hawks showed how much he wanted to stay in Atlanta, relays K.L. Chouinard of Bazemore, who landed a four-year, $70MM contract in free agency, said it was important to remain with the team he joined two seasons ago. “This is one of the high points of my life,” he said, “and I couldn’t choose a better place to be. I said I wasn’t going to get emotional, but I just love it here, you know. People have just embraced me and it just feels like home, man.”
  • It’s hard to understand why the Wizards re-signed Marcus Thornton so early in free agency, writes Ben Standig of CSNMidAtlantic. Thornton, who received a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, projects as a fifth guard, Standig contends, adding that it’s unusual for teams to fill roster spots with those type of players before Summer League begins.

Heat Trade For Luke Babbitt

5:32pm: The trade is official, the Heat have announced.

JULY 10th, 5:16pm: The Heat are in “advanced trade discussions” with the Pelicans for combo forward Luke Babbitt, tweets Marc Stein of New Orleans will receive draft considerations and cash in return.

The draft considerations involve the heavily protected 2018 pick the Pelicans sent to Miami in a February deal for Jarnell Stokes, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The draft choice was protected unless it fell out of the top 55 (Twitter link). Miami is also sending the first of its allowable cash outlays for next season to New Orleans (Twitter link).

The 6’9″ Babbitt has six years of NBA experience with the Pelicans and Trail Blazers. He played in 47 games last season, averaging 7.0 points and 3.1 rebounds.

Pelicans Waive Mirza Begić

The Pelicans have released center Mirza Begić just two days after signing him, the team announced. The 30-year-old practiced with the team, but New Orleans didn’t play any preseason games during his brief tenure. The move reduces the Pelicans roster to 19 players, 13 of whom have full guarantees, and it opens a spot beneath the 20-man preseason roster limit for New Orleans to formalize a deal with Nate Robinson, with whom the team reportedly has an agreement.

Begić, a native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has been with some of Europe’s most prominent teams, including Laboral Kuxta and Real Madrid of Spain and Olympiakos of Greece, but he’d never played with an NBA team before. He went undrafted when he was eligible in 2007.

New Orleans has made more roster moves than any other team in the past week as they deal with injuries to Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca, Norris Cole and now Luke Babbitt, who’s out indefinitely with a left hamstring strain, as the team announced Thursday. The Pelicans signed Greg Smith and voided the contract after he failed a physical, signed Jerome Jordan, waived Corey Webster and signed Bo McCalebb in addition to their moves with Begić and Robinson.

Western Notes: McDaniels, Barton, Babbitt

Here’s a look at the latest contract news from the Western Conference:

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Pelicans Re-Sign Luke Babbitt

JULY 20TH, 11:01am: The signing is official, the team announced.

JULY 9TH, 10:13pm: The Pelicans and unrestricted free agent Luke Babbitt are finalizing a deal that would bring the forward back to New Orleans, Marc Stein of reports (Twitter link). The pact is for two years, and valued in the $2.5MM range, Stein adds.

Babbitt made 63 appearances for the Pelicans last season, including 19 starts. He notched averages of 4.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.4 assists in 13.2 minutes per contest. His shooting numbers were .479/.513/.684. Through five NBA seasons split between the Blazers and Pelicans, Babbitt’s numbers are 4.2 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 0.5 APG, with a slash line of .401/.403/.722.

The 26-year-old was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, and played his college ball at the University of Nevada.

Southwest Rumors: Jefferson, Mavs, Babbitt

Richard Jefferson admits that while other teams around the league offered him a chance at more playing time and a more lucrative paycheck, he decided to sign with the Mavs because he believes they give him the best chance at winning, as Michael Florek of the Dallas Morning News details. “We have a chance here,” said Jefferson, “Obviously you need to be lucky. You need things to go the right way, have the ball bounce your way, but I believe this was my best chance to win and win now.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Mark Cuban responded to the critical comments made by Rockets GM Daryl Morey, suggesting Morey’s assertion that free agents would prefer to play in Houston over Dallas is flawed. I’m not sure how he would know that,” said the outspoken owner of the Mavs, who reminded Tim MacMahon of that the Rockets have won only a single a playoff series since 1997.
  • The Rockets had to scrap Kostas Papanikolaou‘s contract and re-sign him, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. The NBA rejected the original agreement, and it’s unclear if any significant changes have been made to the structure of the deal.
  • Luke Babbitt was held out of Summer League play by the Pelicans because there was a chance he’d be dealt to the Rockets in the then-looming Omer Asik trade, writes Jimmy Smith of the Times-Picayune (on Twitter).

Cray Allred contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Clips, Jazz, Withey, Buycks, Mavs

Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid for the Clippers equals more than 12 times the total revenue projections for the team from 2013/14, but no major pro sports team has ever sold for more than five times of its total revenue, according to Bank of America. Ramona Shelburne and Darren Rovell of have the details, which back up the contention of Clippers CEO Dick Parsons that it would be tough to envision another bidder coming in so high.

  • The Jazz received $1.3MM in cash Tuesday as part of their three-for-one trade with the Cavs, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). That’s slightly more than the $1MM that was originally reported.
  • Jeff Withey‘s minimum salary became fully guaranteed for this coming season after the Pelicans declined to waive him before the end of Tuesday, the final day they could do so without owing him any money, according to Mark Deeks of ShamSports. Teammate Luke Babbitt also earned a $100K partial guarantee when the Pelicans kept him past Tuesday, which was also the final day his contract had been fully non-guaranteed.
  • Dwight Buycks is drawing the eye of the Clippers and Suns, and multiple teams from overseas are interested in him as well, Sportando’s Enea Trapani reports. The Raptors waived Buycks on Saturday, before his contract would have become fully guaranteed.
  • The Mavs are nearing a deal with Jameer Nelson, but owner Mark Cuban insisted to Tim MacMahon of that the team isn’t trying to unload Raymond Felton. “We like him and think he will have a great year,” Cuban said. 
  • Cuban also made an appearance on Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket in Dallas this week, during which he explained that the Mavericks strategically used the ultra-logical approach of the Rockets‘ front office to put together an offer for Chandler Parsons that was unlikely to be matched (link via The Dallas Morning News).

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