Miami Heat

Teams Begin To Solidify Meetings With Kevin Durant

The Warriors, Spurs and Thunder will be the first three teams to land face-to-face recruiting meetings with Kevin Durant, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Stein adds that the meetings will take place next week and more teams are expected to be granted an opportunity to make a pitch. Durant’s representatives are working to solidify meetings with the Celtics, Clippers and Heat in addition to the aforementioned teams, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports.

Both the Warriors and Spurs are planning on having key members of their respective organizations in attendance, Stein adds. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will be among the attendees for Golden State’s pitch, while San Antonio will have Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan among the attendees at its meeting. Sources tell Stein that the Warriors believe their chances of landing Durant have increased as a result of losing to the Cavs in the NBA Finals. Earlier this week, a source suggested to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News that the Warriors appear to be the biggest threat to land the 2013/14 MVP should he leave Oklahoma City.

Durant is expected to have his agent Rich Kleiman and a few family members and friends alongside him during the initial meetings. The meetings are expected to take place in New York, according to Wojnarowski, although teams are still awaiting official word. It was reported last week that the meetings would take place in Los Angeles, where Durant owns a home.

The Knicks and Lakers remain hopeful about getting a meeting, Stein adds. Despite no definite report of a future meeting with Durant, Ian Begley of ESPN.com tweets that the Knicks are expected to get one.

The Rockets are not expected to get serious consideration, as was previously reported, and Stein adds that the Wizards are not optimistic about their chances of landing Durant.

Durant’s top priority for a destination remains competing for a championship and doing it immediately. A source tells Wojnarowski that he has plans to go on a publicity tour starting on July 9, and he expects to make a decision before that date.

Mavs Prioritizing Whiteside, Conley In Free Agency

The Mavericks are eyeing Heat center Hassan Whiteside and Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, making those two players their top targets as free agency approaches, according to Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Both players are expected to command maximum-salary contracts, and Dallas is willing to pay that price for either player, sources tell the ESPN duo.

Per ESPN’s report, the Mavericks expect to have the opportunity to meet with Whiteside during the opening hours of free agency in July. The Heat have been considered the frontrunner to re-sign their pending free agent, but Dallas will be among the teams given the chance to make a pitch to him once the recruiting period begins. MacMahon and Stein identify the Trail Blazers as another club expected to make a push for Whiteside.

As for Conley, he may be open to leaving Memphis if the Grizzlies are unwilling to offer him a fifth year. Because the Grizzlies hold the point guard’s Bird Rights, they’re the only club that can offer five years instead of four, and Conley wants them to do so if he ends up re-signing, according to MacMahon and Stein. A source tells the ESPN duo that San Antonio and Dallas are among the teams that would appeal to the 28-year-old if he leaves Memphis — his interest in the Mavericks is in large part due to his respect for head coach Rick Carlisle.

As the Mavs pursue Conley and Whiteside, it’s worth considering that Conley’s maximum salary over a four-year deal figures to be about $20MM more than Whiteside’s, since he has a few more years of NBA experience.

MacMahon also notes (on Twitter) that technically Kevin Durant remains the Mavericks’ top target in free agency, but suggests that the team is being realistic about its chances of luring KD to Dallas.

Heat Extend Qualifying Offer To Tyler Johnson

The Heat have formally extended a qualifying offer to combo guard Tyler Johnson, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel relays (via Twitter). By doing so, Miami has made Johnson a restricted free agent, which means the team will have the opportunity to match any offer sheet Johnson were to ink this summer.

Johnson, 24, earned $845,059 for his work in 2015/16 and his qualifying offer is valued at $1,180,431. With the NBA salary cap set to increase to as much as $94MM for 2016/17, Johnson has an excellent shot at significantly increasing his salary for this past season, plus, he has the opportunity to sign a long-term agreement that would provide him with greater security moving forward.

The combo guard’s 2015/16 campaign was shortened due to injury, with Johnson only appearing in 36 contests courtesy of a bum shoulder that required surgery in February. Johnson averaged 8.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 24.0 minutes per outing for the Heat when on the court and his shooting line on the season was .486/.380/.797.

Unsigned Draft Picks: Southeast Division

As the 2016 NBA draft rapidly approaches the term draft-and-stash will be mentioned quite often in regard to international players and late second-rounders. While some of these athletes will eventually sign with an NBA team,  it seems like the majority of them stay overseas and never make it to the league. Those players in the latter category aren’t without value as they become trade assets for the teams holding their rights.

While many players fail to work out the way teams expect them to, they can at least become tradeable assets for teams that don’t want to part with a future second-round pick in a deal.  Each team must give up something in a trade, which is why many swaps include top-55 protected second-round picks.  Older draft rights held players who clearly will never come over to the NBA are essentially the same as flipping those heavily protected second-rounders, for all intents and purposes.

Listed below are the current unsigned draftees for the teams of the Southeast Division:

Atlanta Hawks

  • Dimitrios Agravanis — Selected No. 59 overall in 2015.
  • Augusto Binelli — Selected No. 40 overall in 1986.
  • Alain Digbeu — Selected No. 49 overall in 1997.
  • Marcus Eriksson — Selected No. 50 overall in 2015.
  • Sergey Gladyr — Selected No. 49 overall in 2009.

Charlotte Hornets

  • None

Miami Heat

  • Roberto Duenas — Selected No. 58 overall in 1997.
  • George Banks — Selected No. 46 overall in 1995.

Orlando Magic

  • Fran Vazquez — Selected No. 11 overall in 2005.
  • Tyler Harvey — Selected No. 51 overall in 2015.
  • Janis Timma — Selected No. 60 overall in 2013.
  • Ramon Van De Hare — Selected No. 52 overall in 2003.
  • Rashard Griffith — Selected No. 38 overall in 1995.

Washington Wizards

Bosh Situation Will Hamper Team's Offseason Plans

  • The uncertainty surrounding the health status of power forward Chris Bosh will hamper the Heat‘s offseason plans and could result in a number of the team’s free agents departing this summer, Keith P. Smith of RealGM writes. The scribe also notes that the potential for unpleasantness exists if Bosh is medically cleared to play and Miami is still unwilling to allow him to risk a return to the court.

Winslow Wants To Become Face Of The Franchise

Heat swingman Justise Winslow just completed his rookie campaign and hopes to develop into a player who the franchise can build around, of The Miami Herald relays. “Yeah, definitely. Growing up, that was something I always wanted,” Winslow responded when asked if he wants to be the face of the franchise. “And being part of an organization that over the past 10, 13 years has sort of been built around one guy, it’s just something to look forward to. I know there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m not sure what team it will be with, hopefully with Miami, but eventually I would want to be a franchise guy, a leader on a team and the guy that the organization kind of builds around.

Huge Roster Shakeup Possible

Free Agent Rumors: Durant, Conley, Whiteside

Within his latest piece for Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler examines a few of this year’s top free-agents-to-be, taking stock of their situations and passing along the latest notes and rumors he’s heard on each player. Here’s a round-up of some of the key info from Kyler’s piece:

  • Even though Kevin Durant is considered most likely to return to the Thunder, he’s expected to take meetings, and Kyler hears that the Warriors and Spurs are “planning big pitches.” The belief around the NBA is that Durant will return to OKC on a deal that allows him to opt out in a year so that his free agency will line up with Russell Westbrook‘s and Serge Ibaka‘s in 2017.
  • Sources close to Mike Conley‘s camp have suggested recently that Conley is “more open to new situations” than the Grizzlies would like. According to Kyler, those sources believe that the point guard wants to see signs that Memphis is serious about fortifying its roster with other pieces before committing to the team for the long term. Kyler identifies the “dark horse” in the Conley sweepstakes as the Spurs, who are believed to be willing to make some changes to their core if it means landing another high-level player.
  • Hassan Whiteside is expected to land a maximum-salary contract, with the Lakers and Celtics among the teams believed to be interested. The Heat remain the favorites for the big man, but if they “try to play games,” Whiteside will shop around for other offers, according to Kyler.
  • The Raptors and Knicks are among the clubs with interest in Nicolas Batum, but Batum will likely be in line for a max contract or something close to it, and the Hornets are viewed as the team most likely to accommodate such a deal.
  • DeMar DeRozan is viewed as a near-lock to return to the Raptors on a max deal.
  • Assuming they don’t land Durant, the Warriors sound prepared to keep their current roster intact, even if that means matching a “crazy offer sheet” for Harrison Barnes, writes Kyler.
  • The odds of RFA-to-be Jordan Clarkson ending up with any team besides the Lakers are slim, but it’s possible his camp will seek out an offer sheet from another club if necessary, in order to get more favorable terms.

Heat Grant Grizzlies Permission To Interview Smart

  • The Heat have granted the Grizzlies permission to interview assistant coach Keith Smart for a position on the staff of former Miami assistant David Fizdale, who was recently named Memphis’ head coach, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel relays. Memphis was denied permission to interview Heat assistant coach Dan Craig, who is expected to take an elevated position on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff next season, Winderman adds.

Heat To Continue Small-Ball Approach

The Heat went to a small-ball approach this past season out of necessity to due injuries, but the experiment may continue in 2016/17 in order to better maximize the talents of Goran Dragic, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post writes.

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