Miami Heat Rumors

Southeast Notes: Ferry, Vaughn, Whiteside

January 31 at 8:56am CST By Eddie Scarito

Hawks GM Danny Ferry is largely responsible for Atlanta’s success this season, but there is almost zero chance of him returning from his leave of absence to the team that he built, Paul Newberry of The Associated Press writes. A number of the Hawks’ current players believe that Ferry deserves a second chance, and some of them applaud the way Ferry rebuilt the club without allowing the franchise to fall to the bottom of the standings while doing it, Newberry notes. He did it a totally different way,” Hawks forward Kyle Korver said. “I think there’s a whole lot of owners who would rather do it that way, rather than lose for five years and hope their draft picks turn out at the end of the day. Danny is going to have another job. There’s not any doubt about that.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic‘s front office had better hope that coach Jacque Vaughn is the reason that the franchise isn’t performing up to expectations if it fires him, Mike Bianchi of The Orlando Sentinel writes. If bringing in a new coach doesn’t improve matters quickly, then GM Rob Hennigan‘s job will be in jeopardy, Bianchi adds, since Hennigan is the architect of the Magic’s underachieving roster.
  • Hassan Whiteside has been filling up stat sheets for the Heat this season, but the big man’s chance to shine in the NBA has been a long time coming, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required) writes in his profile of the player. Whiteside, who is scheduled to earn just $981,348 next season, has quickly become one of the biggest player bargains in the league, Haberstroh opines.
  • With Vaughn’s job as Magic coach in serious peril, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel runs down a number of the team’s options for hiring his replacement. Coaches who could be promoted on an interim basis are Orlando assistant coaches Wes Unseld Jr. and James Borrego. The candidates whom Schmitz speculates the team will consider as long-term solutions include George Karl, Scott Skiles, Tyronn Lue, Michael Curry, and Mark Jackson.

Nuggets Offer Hickson, McGee For Lopez

January 30 at 11:20pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The Nuggets are continuing to attempt to pry Brook Lopez away from the Nets, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Denver has been offering Brooklyn a package of JaVale McGee and J.J. Hickson for Lopez, a deal that the Nets have firmly refused, Stein adds. Chris Mannix of SI.com had reported earlier today that the Nuggets were pursuing Lopez, but were unwilling to part with Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Jusuf Nurkic or Wilson Chandler in a trade. Denver had reportedly expressed interest in acquiring Lopez earlier this month as well.

Denver’s proposed swap would work under the salary cap rules without requiring any additional players to be included. Hickson is making $5,381,750 for this season and is set to earn $5,613,500 in 2015/16. McGee’s 2014/15 salary is $11.25MM, and he is due $12MM for the following season. On the Nets side of the would-be deal, Lopez is earning $15,019,762 this year, and has a player option for 2015/16 for $16,744,218.

The oft-injured McGee has only appeared in 15 games this season for the Nuggets. He is averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 11.8 minutes per contest. His career numbers are 8.5 PPG and 5.6 RPG. His slash line is .542/.200/.586 in 374 career games. The 29-year-old Hickson has appeared in 39 games for Denver, including five as a starter. He is logging 8.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. His shooting numbers for the season are .494/.000/.618.

Lopez has been the subject of numerous trade rumors the past few weeks. The Thunder, Hornets and the Nets were reportedly close to a three-way deal for the center, but the Nets decided that they didn’t want Lance Stephenson in return. The Heat were also noted to have made a bid for Lopez, offering Brooklyn a proposal that reportedly included Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Josh McRoberts. The organization appears to be undecided on whether or not to keep Lopez, but it will likely take a more enticing package than Denver had offered in McGee and Hickson for Brooklyn to budge, though that is just my speculation.

Trade Candidate: Norris Cole

January 30 at 3:45pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Heat were hearing from no shortage of teams interested in trading for Norris Cole two days shy of last year’s trade deadline, but Miami issued a firm “no” to his suitors, as Shams Charania of RealGM reported then. It appears the point guard is again drawing a heavy volume of interest, but so much has changed in the past 11 and a half months.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami HeatCircumstances surrounding the Heat are certainly much different. LeBron James left town this summer, taking any reasonable shot at winning the championship with him. Cleveland is where James once more resides, and it’s also where Cole went to college. Cole hired Cleveland-based Rich Paul of Klutch Sports this summer, signing up with the same agent who represents James. A few months later, Cole and the Heat failed to come to terms on a rookie scale extension, setting him up for restricted free agency in the summer ahead.

It’d be a stretch to presume that Cole would have signed an extension if he were still with former agent Joel Bell or any representative other than Paul. Cole had ascended into the Heat’s starting lineup at the start of the season, but rookie scale extensions rarely happen for players who don’t have at least some measure of star potential, and Cole doesn’t fit the bill. Plus, the Heat have been wary of committing any money beyond next season, so they probably would have been reluctant to do an extension even with a player a step or two above Cole’s level.

The lack of an extension nonetheless seemed another sign that Cole isn’t a permanent fixture on South Beach, an idea further emphasized in the wake of a report around draft time that the Heat were dangling Cole in trade talk. Miami came away from the draft with No. 24 overall pick Shabazz Napier, a point guard who was a LeBron favorite. The Heat also re-signed Mario Chalmers later in the offseason, setting themselves up with depth at the point guard position that perhaps made Cole expendable. It hardly seemed that way earlier this season, when Cole became a starter, at times sharing the backcourt with Dwyane Wade, or Chalmers if Wade was injured. But the starting role didn’t last. Cole, who’d shot 34.9% from three-point range the previous season, saw that rate dip to just 24.6% in games he started. The Heat naturally struggled to win nearly as much as they did when James was around, but by Christmas, Cole was out of the starting lineup. His outside shot has only been worse since his benching. He’s connected on only 23.5% of his three-point attempts as a reserve for a team that no longer has the outside shooting it did during the LeBron era.

Cole was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Bulls, but he returned to play 25 minutes off the bench Tuesday in the absence of Wade, who might be out of action for a few weeks. Regardless, Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio reported earlier this month that Cole is once more on the block, writing that the 26-year-old “pretty much knows” the Heat want to trade him. That came shortly after Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote that Miami had made Cole part of a proposal to the Nets for Brook Lopez. Riley last week denied that he made such a proposal and insisted that the Heat haven’t offered any players to anyone. However, he did indicate that he would listen, and a couple of teams soon found themselves in need of a point guard.

The Hornets have Cole and Ramon Sessions on their radar, Wojnarowski reported Monday in the wake of an injury to Kemba Walker that will keep him out at least six weeks. The Pistons are looking into trading for Cole, too, now that Brandon Jennings is lost for the year, as Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group wrote Tuesday. Still, neither club appears anxious to give up much in return to plug their gaps, and both are competing with the Heat for playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

The prospect of trading Cole to the Pistons or the Hornets might be more palatable to Riley than trading him to Cleveland. The Cavs have never been linked to Cole as a legitimate trade suitor, though the Cavs are reportedly seeking a backup point guard as well. They had a brief flirtation with the idea of signing Jordan Farmar before backing off, and they’re among the clubs interested in signing Will Bynum once he makes it back from China, according to reports. The Cavs are more likely to sign a point guard than trade for one, Amico wrote, but the notion that Cleveland would seek to fill a need with a client of the agent who represents LeBron would certainly be a logical idea.

It’d also be reasonable to suspect that Riley has no desire to help James win a championship so soon after he left Miami, so perhaps the Cavs are focusing on other targets for good reason. In any case, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Riley try to swing a deal to reap some sort of return for Cole, given his expiring contract. The Heat have the right to match offers when he becomes a free agent this summer if they extend a qualifying offer, which will be worth close to $3.037MM assuming he doesn’t return to the starting lineup and trigger the starter criteria. Chances are that any team interested in Cole this summer knows that the Heat don’t want to commit money past next season, so a multiyear offer sheet might make it easy to pry him away.

There’s a market for Cole now, even as his shot has deserted him, and Riley and the Heat may not have a better chance to make the most of one of the remaining vestiges of their decorated LeBron era. Trading Cole to the Cavs or one of the other Eastern Conference playoff contenders might not be an exciting proposition, but unless the Heat can find a Western Conference team willing to give them a better return, Riley ought to swallow hard and make the move.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eastern Notes: Olynyk, Knicks, Wade, Nets

January 29 at 8:51pm CST By Eddie Scarito

The date when the Celtics can expect Kelly Olynyk to return to action is still in question after the center’s most recent round of medical tests, Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com writes. “It’s tough with something like an ankle, everyone is different,” said Olynyk. “It could be a week, it could be three weeks, it could be a month — you never know. I’m just trying to get better and evaluate it each day, and take the next step whenever it’s deemed necessary.” Olynyk was initially expected to miss a month of action.

Here’s more from the East:

  • With Lance Thomas and Louis Amundson set to join New York for the remainder of the season, this will limit the team’s ability to make roster roster moves for the rest of the campaign, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com writes. The Knicks will probably need to try and find a taker for Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon or to reach a buyout arrangement with Amar’e Stoudemire, in order for the team to be able to add any new faces to its roster, Begley adds.
  • Amundson is thankful that the Knicks have signed him for the rest of the season, Marc Berman of The New York Post notes (Twitter link). The big man wasn’t sure if he would be on an NBA roster after being waived by New York earlier this month, Berman adds.
  • Dwyane Wade told reporters today that he would likely miss a minimum of two or three weeks due to his injured hamstring, Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald reports. “I won’t be seeing y’all for a little while, so take a good look at this face,” the Heat star guard said. “You can’t put a time on it. You can’t look at the hamstring and say you’re going to be out this amount of games. Like many muscle strains, you’ve got to go day-by-day.
  • The Nets are hoping to have their own D-League team within the next two seasons, Robert Windrem of NetsDaily writes. Brooklyn would likely buy the rights to an expansion team and place it in the New York area, similar to what the Knicks did with their Westchester affiliate this season, Windrem notes.

Heat Sign Tyler Johnson To Second 10-Day Deal

January 29 at 10:42am CST By Chuck Myron

THURSDAY, 10:42am: The deal is official, the team announced.

WEDNESDAY, 12:44pm: The Heat are signing Tyler Johnson to a second 10-day contract, reports Shams Charania of RealGM. The guard’s first 10-day deal with the Heat expired a week ago, but a source told Hoops Rumors then that while the club wouldn’t re-sign him for the time being, another deal was a possibility as soon as one week later. Johnson will move back into the open roster spot vacated when his initial 10-day run expired.

Miami had Johnson on its summer league squad after he went undrafted out of Fresno State this summer, and he impressed enough to merit a contract partially guaranteed for $75K so he could join the team for the preseason. He failed to make the opening night roster, but Miami retained his D-League rights, and Johnson averaged 18.5 points in 34.5 minutes per game with 42.6% three-point shooting for the Heat’s affiliate. The 22-year-old had a stint of less than two minutes in one game for the Heat’s big club on his first 10-day contract.

The Heat won’t be able to sign the Pedro Power client to any more 10-day deals once this one expires, so any subsequent contract between the sides this season would have to cover the rest of the season. The other 14 players on Miami’s roster already have contracts for at least the rest of the season, and the Heat’s desire to maintain flexibility in case of a trade factored into their decision to wait on a new 10-day deal for Johnson.

And-Ones: Heat, D-League, Brown, Knicks

January 28 at 10:26pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Knicks coach Derek Fisher said that it was very important for New York to sign Louis Amundson and Lance Thomas for the remainder of the season, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com reports (Twitter link). Both players are inked to 10-day deals that expire this week. In five appearances for the Knicks this season, Thomas has averaged 9.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 26.0 minutes per game. Amundson has also made five appearances for New York, and his averages are 4.6 points and 5.8 rebounds in 21.4 minutes per night.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • All of the injuries that the Heat have endured this season haven’t allowed the team to see how effective its intended roster could be, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. “The most disappointing thing is we’re not even having a chance to be at full strength, to even see what we could do,” said Miami center Chris Bosh. “Not 100%, but just at least have most of our guys. It just seems like every time we’re about to turn the corner, there’s a drawback. And it is what it is. I can’t really say anything else.”
  • The Cavaliers have recalled Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. This was Harris’ third jaunt of the season to the D-League. Harris has played in two games for the Charge this season, averaging 18.0 points and 8.0 rebounds in 39.5 minutes per game.
  • The Warriors have assigned center Festus Ezeli to the Santa Cruz Warriors, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced in a press release. Ezeli has missed the last 16 games with an ankle sprain. Golden State also announced that it has recalled Ognjen Kuzmic, who concludes his fifth sojourn of the season in Santa Cruz.
  • With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, Basketball Insiders’ Cody Taylor looked at some players whom the Hawks, Hornets, Heat, Magic, and Wizards could be willing to deal.
  • Lorenzo Brown will earn $48K from his 10-day contract with the Wolves, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). One-year veterans, like Brown, and rookies cost their teams slightly less than other players when they sign 10-day contracts, as Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors explained earlier this month.

Eastern Notes: Whiteside, Roberts, Russell

January 28 at 4:48pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Hassan Whiteside is finally getting an opportunity to prove that he is an NBA-caliber player after toiling away overseas and in the D-League, Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes. When asked how he feels about getting his chance to play for the Heat, Whiteside said, “It’s a blessing, you know. I told my teammates, man, you won’t believe how things work out in life. Three months ago, you can ask anybody in Charlotte at the downtown [YMCA], I was just there. At the downtown Y, just chillin’. Workin’ on my game. I couldn’t even get a team to pick up the phone.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • With starting point guard Kemba Walker expected to miss a minimum of six weeks due to a a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, Brian Roberts is the player who will be called upon to contribute more for the Hornets, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “Here’s another opportunity for me to step up and help this team win games,” Roberts said. “It’s a challenge and everybody has to step up and take a little bit more ownership. Filling that void will be a group effort.
  • The Pacers are high on Ohio State combo guard D’Angelo Russell, but even as Indiana’s lottery chances improve, Russell’s improvement will make it tough for a team without a top-five pick to nab him, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com writes amid a chat with readers.
  • The Pacers have assigned rookie big man Shayne Whittington to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team has announced. This will be Indiana’s first utilization of the D-League this season. In 13 appearances for the Pacers this season,Whittington has averaged 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds in 4.5 minutes per game.

Wolves Cut Raduljica, Sign Lorenzo Brown

January 28 at 4:36pm CST By Chuck Myron

4:36pm: The Wolves have released Raduljica, the team has announced.

WEDNESDAY, 4:02pm: The Wolves have officially signed Brown to a 10-day deal, the team has announced (Twitter link). No official announcement has been made regarding Raduljica being released yet. Unless the Wolves have released Raduljica without making a formal announcement, it seems there’s more to the story, since the team wouldn’t have room on its roster unless the league granted an extra roster spot via hardship

TUESDAY, 11:13am: The Wolves are ending their 10-day contract with Miroslav Raduljica early to clear the way for the team to sign Lorenzo Brown, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). Brown has indeed committed to ink with Minnesota in spite of interest from the Pistons as well as the Heat, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter links). The team has been planning to sign Brown to a 10-day deal, likely in advance of the team’s game on Wednesday, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Raduljica’s deal isn’t up until the end of Wednesday, but it appears Minnesota will eat the last day or two of his 10-day deal, worth $48,028, to have Brown in place.

Brown rejoins the club that drafted him 52nd overall out of N.C. State in 2013. The Wolves brought him to training camp that year, but they cut him before opening night. The combo guard hooked on with the Sixers, but he saw just 8.6 minutes per game across 26 appearances for Philadelphia, which waived him in March. He’d been averaging 16.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 31.8 MPG for Detroit’s D-League affiliate this season after the Pistons had him on their NBA roster for the preseason.

Raduljica won’t go on waivers and will simply become a free agent immediately when the team makes the move, as is the case when clubs terminate 10-day pacts. He’s seen just 4.6 minutes per game in five appearances on a pair of 10-day contracts with Minnesota. Raduljica occupies the final roster spot for the Wolves, who have 14 other players signed for the balance of the season, so his deal is the easiest for coach/executive Flip Saunders to let go.

Hornets Eye Cole, Sessions Amid Walker Injury

January 28 at 1:02pm CST By Chuck Myron

WEDNESDAY, 1:02pm: Walker will miss a minimum of six weeks, the team confirmed via press release.

MONDAY, 5:21pm: Hornets coach Steve Clifford acknowledged the possibility that the Hornets would sign a player to help offset the loss of Walker, but while he said Walker has been “by far our best player,” he added that he believes the club has “more than enough” internally to maintain its performance. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer has the details, and notes that the club is without an open roster spot to accommodate a would-be signee.

5:12pm: The Hornets have Ramon Sessions and Norris Cole on their radar as they pursue trade possibilities to replace injured point guard Kemba Walker, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (on Twitter). Walker will have surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, the team announced, and while Charlotte didn’t provide a timetable for his recovery, the team hopes he’ll be back in six weeks, Wojnarowski tweets. The team isn’t looking to trade Walker, but merely to find someone to replace his production during his absence, Wojnarowski clarifies (Twitter link).

Charlotte is familiar with Sessions, having signed him in 2012, and he spent a season and a half with the club, a tenure that ended with a trade at last year’s deadline. Sacramento recently engaged in discussions regarding a swap of Sessions for Jordan Farmar before the Clippers waived Farmar, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee, who at that point pegged Sessions as the King most likely to be traded. The 28-year-old makes $2.077MM this season and is in line for more than $2.17MM next year.

Cole makes roughly the same amount, drawing slightly more than $2.038MM this year in the final season of his rookie-scale contract. Heat president Pat Riley insists he hasn’t made any offers to any teams, in spite of a report that indicated Miami had proposed a deal for Brook Lopez that would have sent Cole to the Nets. Cole “pretty much knows” that the Heat are ready to trade him, as Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio wrote last week as reported that Miami had put the 26-year-old soon-to-be restricted free agent on the trade block.

The Hornets appear to be active in talks of late, many of them involving Lance Stephenson. Charlotte holds a half-game lead over the Nets for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and is a game and a half back of the Heat. It’d seem unlikely that Miami would want to help a team it’s competing against for a playoff spot, though that’s just my speculation.

Central Notes: Bucks, Harris, Pistons

January 27 at 8:28pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker said today that he’ll put a plan that would raise $220MM in public money for a new Bucks arena into the state’s budget, as expected, writes Don Walker of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The budget requires approval from the state legislature. The money will come from a “jock tax” charged to Bucks players as well as those from visiting teams. The Bucks owners have pledged up to $150MM for the arena, and former owner Herb Kohl has put up $100MM, so it appears Walker’s plan would fill the gap needed to fully fund the building, which will likely cost $400MM-$500MM, as Walker wrote Monday.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have assigned Joe Harris to the Canton Charge, their D-League affiliate, the team has announced. This will be Harris’ third stint in the D-League of the season.
  • Brandon Jennings has undergone successful surgery to repair the damage to his ruptured left Achilles tendon, the Pistons have announced. The team didn’t put a timetable on Jennings’ return to the court, but he will certainly be out for the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign.
  • Pistons president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy indicated that the team is likely to add another point guard to the roster soon, Keith Langlois of NBA.com reports (Twitter link). Detroit is reportedly eyeing Norris Cole of the Heat as a trade target
  • Detroit isn’t willing to sacrifice future assets to obtain a point guard or to make a run at the playoffs this season, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reports. “We want to give ourselves every chance, so we want to get some help, but we won’t mortgage anything in terms of the future,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not going to go out and give away assets, picks or anything like that. No, we’re not gonna do that.” The Pistons could look to the NBA D-League for backcourt help instead, Ellis adds. “Again, we’ve got several options,” Van Gundy said. “We haven’t decided which direction to go right now.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.