- Bobby Marks of The Vertical previews the offseason for the Heat, who will need to find talent outside of the draft this year since they don’t have either of their two picks.
Heat assistant David Fizdale, who interviewed last week for the Grizzlies’ head coaching job, has progressed to a second meeting with the team, sources tells Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to Stein, team owner Robert Pera will be involved in the second sit-down with Fizdale.
Fizdale, who turns 42 next month, has been a part of the Heat’s coaching staff since 2008, with the club earning two NBA Championship teams during his tenure. Fizdale previously served as an assistant coach for the Warriors (2003/04) and the Hawks (2004-2008).
Fizdale is one of several candidates who have reportedly spoken to the Grizzlies, with Spurs assistants James Borrego and Ettore Messina, Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing, and Trail Blazers assistant Nate Tibbetts also believed to be under consideration. However, there have been no indications that any of those interviewees have met with Memphis more than once, or that their interviews have involved Pera.
One candidate that did meet with Pera was Frank Vogel, who ultimately landed in Orlando, tweets Stein. Based on Stein’s report, it’s not clear whether the Magic’s new coach interviewed with Memphis twice, or whether the Grizzlies owner was present for the first interview. Either way though, Vogel had been considered the frontrunner for the Grizzlies’ job before he accepted Orlando’s offer, so the fact that Pera is now meeting with Fizdale looks like a positive development for the Miami assistant.
- In the wake of Jeff Hornacek‘s offer from the Knicks, who are expected to formally hire him as their head coach soon, Ken Berger of CBSSports.com revisits Hornacek’s time in Phoenix and provides an interesting tidbit related to a former Suns player. According to Berger, Hornacek spoke to Goran Dragic and secured a commitment from the point guard, who said he’d re-sign with the Suns when his contract expired — days later, Phoenix traded him to the Heat.
Oklahoma City’s surprising playoff run means there’s virtually no chance that Kevin Durant will land with the Heat as a free agent, Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel opines. Unless he’s desperate to get out of Oklahoma City, Durant has no real incentive to leave a team that can win championships, Hyde continues. While the Heat still must make an effort to contact Durant during free agency, it’s now clearcut that re-signing center Hassan Whiteside is their biggest offseason priority, Hyde adds.
In other news regarding the Heat:
- Retaining free agent small forward Luol Deng will be difficult if the Heat manage to retain Whiteside, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. It will be tough to make the salary-cap math work in that scenario, as Deng likely will have suitors willing to immediately pay a number the Heat would hesitate to match while wooing Whiteside, Winderman continues. Starting point guard Goran Dragic could be traded to free up cap space, while Dwyane Wade is likely to finish his career in Miami, Winderman adds while examining the roster.
- Restricted free agent Tyler Johnson might interest the point-guard starved Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post speculates. Johnson is quite versatile and would be a good fit if New York continues to run the triangle offense under new coach Jeff Hornacek.
- Continuity under team president Pat Riley and a stable coaching staff are the Heat’s greatest assets, Hyde writes in a separate piece. The belief that the Heat will regain their status as a prime title contender starts with Riley, according to Hyde, adding that Riley’s biggest decision this summer is whether the team should splurge on an outside free agent or wait until next year.
The Heat are treating Kevin Durant like a long shot and concentrating their free agency efforts on keeping Hassan Whiteside, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami intends to make an offer to Durant, but Jackson says the team’s intentions were clear when president Pat Riley called Whiteside the priority this week.
Miami might have a better shot at signing an outside free agent next summer, Jackson writes, even if Whiteside returns at a max or near-max contract. Dwyane Wade can free up some money if he agrees to another one-year contract or a two-year deal with an opt out after one season. Even if Chris Bosh is able to keep playing and his $25.3MM counts against the Heat’s cap, the franchise could have about $26MM to use next summer, possibly closer to $32MM if it can find a taker for Josh McRoberts. That would be enough to re-sign Wade and add a player such as Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, Taj Gibson, Andre Iguodala, Tony Allen or J.J. Redick.
There’s more out of Miami:
- The Heat will gauge the trade market for McRoberts, but the front office recognizes his value in case Bosh can’t play, Jackson writes in the same story. Miami might prefer to keep Luol Deng, who filled in for Bosh this season, but the offers he will get in free agency might be more than Miami can afford. “When you watch players play with [McRoberts], who know how to play with him, they’re very effective,” Riley said. “… We’re still high on him. We’re praying all the time he stays healthy.”
- Joe Johnson may not stay with the Heat if he wants a quick decision in free agency, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman expects many variables to play out, including whether coach Erik Spoelstra wants to make Justise Winslow his starting small forward. If that happens, the Heat would prefer to add another shooter to the starting lineup, a role Bosh can fill if he’s healthy. The Heat may want to fill their salary cap with other players first and then offer Johnson its $2.9MM “room” mid-level exception. However, he could get a better offer from another team before that happens.
- After passing on Devin Booker to draft Winslow last year, the Heat need to concentrate on finding shooters this summer, Winderman contends in a separate piece. Their 7-for-25 performance from 3-point range in Game 7 against the Raptors underlined the need for improvement, but Spoestra said the team won’t be searching for just one skill. “Teams are built differently; teams can win in different ways,” he said. “… The most important thing is finding the best fits around the players you currently have, and can players bring out the best in each other?”
The Heat are expecting Chris Bosh to be available next season, according to Dan Le Batard of ESPN. The 13-year veteran hasn’t played since the All-Star break when doctors discovered blood clots in his left calf, but Le Batard said on his radio show that both sides are optimistic. “I just got a text saying that Bosh should be able to play next season,” the host said. “So the Heat expect Bosh to be able to play next season. … What I’m telling you is that Bosh is committed to getting back, and the Heat are hopeful that that can be so.” Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com notes that the text came after Le Batard talked about the possibility of Bosh being forced into retirement, so Feldman speculates it came from someone with inside knowledge of the situation.
There’s more news out of Miami:
- The Heat are limited in making deals for draft picks because they have used all their tradable cash for this season, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Not only can they not buy a pick, but Winderman points out that 60 percent of their roster is headed toward free agency, so none of those players can be traded. He says Miami’s best shot is to find a team that is interested in trading a pick for Josh McRoberts and that has the cap space or exception to fit him on its roster. McRoberts will make $5,782,450 next season.
- Goran Dragic says Heat players will try to convince free agent center Hassan Whiteside to stay in Miami, tweets Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. “We all want him here,” Dragic said. .. “Hopefully he sees that.”
- Dwyane Wade is hoping for a “quick and easy” experience in free agency this summer, Lieser tweets. Wade, who signed a one-year, $20MM deal last offseason, said he wants a “smooth” negotiating process.
- With only about $40MM to spend and Whiteside and Wade as top priorities, the Heat may not be able to afford free agent combo forward Luol Deng, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. At a little more than $10.15MM, Deng turned out to be a bargain for Miami as he assumed a greater role after Bosh was sidelined. “Going forward obviously I would love to be here,” Deng said. “It’s something that we will sit down and discuss. I can’t really say one bad thing about being here. I enjoyed my time. The one thing that I know about here is that it’s an organization that wants to win and an organization that will support the players and what they do, whether it’s on the court or off the court.”
The NBA’s relationship with the D-League continues to grow, and this season a total of 19 NBA teams had one-to-one affiliations with D-League clubs. Those NBA organizations without their own affiliates were required to assign players to D-League clubs associated with other NBA franchises. D-League teams could volunteer to take on the assigned players, and if no volunteers emerged, the players were assigned at random.
This significant change from the 2014/15 season came about after the Pacers purchased the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and turned them into their one-to-one partner for the 2015/16 campaign. Other NBA teams have interest in following suit in the years ahead, and the NBA’s ultimate goal for the D-League is for all 30 NBA franchises to have their own D-League squads. You can view the complete list of D-League affiliates here.
We at Hoops Rumors are recapping the D-League-related activity for the 2015/16 campaign for each team and we’ll continue with the Miami Heat, whose D-League affiliate is the Sioux Falls Skyforce:
The Heat made 8 assignments for the 2015/16 season, sending two players to the D-League for a total of 55 days. Listed below are all the assignments and recalls made by Miami for the 2015/16 campaign:
- November 25th: Assigned Jarnell Stokes (1st) — Recalled November 29th
- December 3rd: Assigned Jarnell Stokes (2nd) — Recalled December 15th
- December 25th: Assigned Jarnell Stokes (3rd) — Recalled January 3rd
- December 30th: Assigned Josh Richardson (1st) — Recalled January 3rd
- January 5th: Assigned Jarnell Stokes (4th) — Recalled January 16th
- January 5th: Assigned Josh Richardson (2nd) — Recalled January 11th
- February 4th: Assigned Jarnell Stokes (5th) — Recalled February 7th
- February 10th: Assigned Jarnell Stokes (6th) — Recalled February 15th
Here’s how Miami’s players performed while on assignment to the D-League this season:
- Josh Richardson: In four appearances Richardson averaged 23.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 38.2 minutes per contest. His shooting numbers were .473/.393/.706.
- Jarnell Stokes: In 28 appearances Stokes averaged 20.6 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 30.7 minutes per outing. His shooting line was.665/.444/.667.
Heat president Pat Riley offered insight into the Chris Bosh situation and several other topics during a 46-minute news conference this afternoon, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Among the highlights:
- Bosh’s future remains uncertain after being sidelined since the All-Star break when blood clots were reportedly discovered in his left calf. Riley said doctors will work with Bosh over the summer to develop a program with the goal of getting him back on the court. “That’s always been our objective,” Riley said. “We’re in this together. It’s an X factor when it comes to everything we plan on doing this summer.”
- Riley called center Hassan Whiteside “our No. 1 priority, period” when it comes to free agency. The 26-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, averaging 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game and leading the league with 3.7 blocks per night. Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent and the Heat don’t own his Bird rights because he signed just a two-year contract in 2014 after being out of the NBA for two seasons. “I don’t think he’s even reached his real ceiling in a couple areas of the game that I think that now he will be more comfortable with once his situation ends,” Riley said. “… He has shown all of us he can be 15 and 15 and four blocked shots and 70% field goal guy. There are other layers to his game I think he can even be better at. He’s very, very, very high on our priority list.” Riley promised the Heat will contact Whiteside at 12:01 a.m. July 1, the official start of free agency.
- Another Heat decision will involve whether to again sign Dwyane Wade to a one-year contract or to hammer out a longer agreement. Riley called Wade a “lifer” in Miami and promised to “do the right thing” for the future Hall of Famer. “Compensation to a player is not just a way to get paid and live your life,” Riley said. “Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect.”
- Free agent power forward Udonis Haslem may have a future with the Heat even though he’s about to turn 36 next month. Riley likes the way Haslem became a mentor to young players and contributed on the court when needed. “He said he learned more than ever about leadership this year in thinking about what he had to bring to the team that day because he wanted to talk to Hassan or Justise [Winslow] or Gerald [Green] or somebody,” Riley said. “… What he got was a great result.”
- Riley said he understands that Goran Dragic had a hectic year that involved a lot more than just his trade from the Suns. But he added that the “unsettled” excuse is in the past, and the organization expects a lot more from Dragic next season. “He’s got to be a player than can create and score when there is no space,” Riley said. “That’s part of the game also, because when teams start to take things away from you and the offense that the coach creates, what are you going to do?”
The Grizzlies spoke with at least two candidates today as their search for a new coach heats up. Heat assistant David Fizdale came to Memphis for an interview, tweets Marc J. Spears of ESPN.com., as did Portland assistant Nate Tibbetts, according to Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal (Twitter link). Both had been previously named as candidates for the job.
Spurs assistant James Borrego impressed Grizzlies officials during his interview earlier this week, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Memphis has also held interviews with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, Hornets assistant Patrick Ewing and recently fired Pacers coach Frank Vogel (Twitter link). The Grizzlies have significant interest in Vogel, according to ESPN, but so does Orlando (Twitter link).
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Pelicans free agent Ryan Anderson says he was nearly traded to Cleveland at the deadline, relays Brett Dawson of The Advocate. Appearing on “The Vertical Podcast,” Anderson contends the Cavaliers were trying to work out a deal for him before they picked up Channing Frye from Orlando. “There was a very last-minute phone call that I could have gone to Cleveland,” Anderson said. “I would be playing for the Cavs right now.” Anderson said he didn’t ask the Pelicans to trade him because he wants to have the option in free agency of staying in New Orleans. Anderson’s last experience as a free agent came in 2012 when he was restricted and Orlando swung a deal to send him to the Pelicans. This time, he likes the feeling of being in complete control. “I want to enjoy this process and see where New Orleans is at this summer,” Anderson said. “I want to see where, I don’t know, Houston is at or Sacramento or Washington.”
- The Spurs could be interested in power forward Thomas Robinson if he opts out of his deal with the Nets, according to Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Robinson would give up a little more than $980K by opting out, but he stands to make much more on the open market with the expected jump in the salary cap. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has talked about the need to rebuild the bench with younger players, and the 25-year-old Robinson, a former teammate of LaMarcus Aldridge in Portland, could be a possibility.
- Rockets point guard Jason Terry thinks Dwight Howard would be a “great fit” with the Mavericks, but only if he adapts to coach Rick Carlisle, according to The Dallas Morning News. “Whatever [Howard’s] role is, he would have to be the one to buy in first, and then you go from there,” Terry said on ESPN Radio’s Cowlishaw and Mosley show. “But he and Dirk [Nowitzki] together? That’s a powerful combination.” The 38-year-old Terry adds that he hopes to play one more season before retiring.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is pleased with the growth that Goran Dragic displayed in running the team’s offense during the second half of the season and in the playoffs, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald relays. “You want to leverage his strengths as much as possible,” Spoelstra said of Dragic. “He really improved in a lot of areas. He had to run a team different from the teams he has been successful on. That helped him immensely during the playoffs. He learned how to execute in halfcourt basketball. When we were able to play a different pace and tempo after the All-Star break, he had an improved skill set to play multiple styles of basketball, which is absolutely a necessity in the playoffs. You can’t just play one style. I’ve enjoyed seeing Goran’s growth as a basketball player. Now he’s learning how to impact winning on both sides of the floor. He’s been a joy to coach.”
Here’s more from South Beach:
- Spoelstra wouldn’t address the reports that Chris Bosh may not be cleared by the team’s medical staff to return to action, but did note how difficult the power forward’s health woes have been on both the player and the organization, Jackson notes in the same piece. “There’s nothing new,” Spoelstra said regarding Bosh. “Right now, we’re going to get away and decompress. Obviously, it was very tough for the team. You really feel for CB because you know how much the game means to him. You really feel for him. It was a tough year emotionally for this team, starting with Coach [Keith] Smart, when he had to take his leave of absence for his cancer. I’ve never been through anything like that. At the same time, it was an extremely gratifying year. Everything we went through, we really developed some friendships and relationships through this almost eight months of a season. We were disappointed about the final result. We will always have bigger expectations here at the Heat.”
- Small forward Luol Deng, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, said he prefers to re-sign with the Heat and that like his previous free agency decisions, what he does this summer won’t revolve primarily around money, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post relays (Twitter links). The 31-year-old earned $10,151,612 for his efforts this past season.
- The Heat are likely to face stiff competition for unrestricted free agent big man Hassan Whiteside this summer, but the team intends to take advantage of the next six weeks when it will be the only franchise allowed to talk contract details with the player, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “Well, we’ll get to July when we get to July,” Spoelstra said. “But, in the meantime, it’s going to be spending a lot of time in our building, still doing rehab, treatment and then we’re fully open, as we always are, to player development all the way up until that date. But I anticipate spending some more time with Hassan in the immediate future, as he gets healthy.”