- James Ennis feels confident that he’ll earn his way onto the Heat‘s regular season roster, agent Scott Nichols told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, explaining why he and the Heat decided to nix the clause in Ennis’ contract that would have triggered a 50% partial guarantee on his minimum salary if he remained on the team through Saturday. The move keeps the Heat from having to decide on a $422,530 chunk of salary this weekend, a prospect that may well have spurred the team to cut him, and it also moves up the date on which Ennis’ salary becomes fully guaranteed from December 1st to opening night, Jackson notes.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel still doesn’t see Miami’s 2014 draft-night acquisition of Shabazz Napier as a mistake, even after the Heat traded Napier to the Magic following a so-so rookie year, as Winderman writes in his mailbag column. He heard from one scout that Napier nearly was one of the first 15 picks in the draft. This summer, the Heat had luxury tax concerns and better options at point guard, and that’s what led to the trade with Orlando, Winderman argues. That casts a different light on Napier than that from when an NBA GM told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that the Heat had simply concluded prior to the trade that the point guard “was not good enough”
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist leads a list of intriguing second-tier 2016 free agents that Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com compiles in an Insider-only piece. The elite defense of the 21-year-old Hornets small forward makes it such that he’ll be a valuable starter for years to come if he can merely become an average offensive player, Pelton argues.
The Blazers acquired Mike Miller from the Cavs earlier this week but he’s probably not sticking around for long. The veteran is a “strong candidate” to negotiate a buyout with Portland, Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears, and the Grizzlies, Thunder, and Mavs already appear to be interested. While we wait for more on that, here’s more from the Northwest Division..
- The Thunder remain the front-runners for Kevin Durant‘s 2016 free agency, but Sean Deveney of The Sporting News sizes up the chances that the Wizards, Warriors,
Rockets, Heat, Clippers, Mavericks, Celtics, Knicks and Lakers all of have of convincing the former MVP to leave OKC.
- The Thunder viewed Kevin Seraphin as a possible fall-back option if they did not re-sign Enes Kanter, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. At this point, a one-year deal is more likely for Seraphin than a long-term pact, Castillo writes. OKC, of course, has retained Kanter. The Knicks, Lakers, and Wizards are showing interest in Seraphin at this time.
- The SI.com staff debated which team took the biggest step back this summer and multiple writers cast their ballots for the Trail Blazers. The Blazers, of course, have watched Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Robin Lopez wind up elsewhere this summer. Damian Lillard has been surrounded with some promising young talent, but they seem likely to take a big step back in 2015/16.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
This past spring was the first without either the Heat or the Magic in the playoffs since 1993. Florida figures to have at least one postseason representative this coming season, with Chris Bosh set to return from the blood clot ailment that prematurely ended last season, and Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade, each of whom signed new deals, will be back, too. The outlook is murkier for the Magic, but they added No. 5 overall pick Mario Hezonja and re-signed Tobias Harris. Here’s the latest from the Sunshine State, where both teams hooked up on a trade earlier this week:
- One GM who spoke with the Heat told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that the team simply concluded that Shabazz Napier “was not good enough” before trading him to the Magic for a draft pick that represents a virtual non-asset. The GM cited a lack of height, quickness and shooting skill.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes the Napier trade had more to do with the Heat‘s belief in Tyler Johnson and second-round pick Josh Richardson than tax concerns. The Heat didn’t really affect their store of talent with the deals that sent out Napier and Zoran Dragic, but trading Mario Chalmers or Chris Andersen would represent a true on-court sacrifice in the name of tax savings, as Winderman surmises in a separate mailbag column. Still, bringing back Mike Miller, should the Trail Blazers let him go as seems likely, wouldn’t be a significant help, Winderman opines.
- The Magic have reached a turning point, and even though they missed out on luring Paul Millsap from the Hawks this month, their roster now is better than at any point since the Dwight Howard trade three years ago, as Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders argues.
11:59pm: Richardson will make the minimum salary in at least the first two seasons of the deal, while the sides are still hammering out the terms of year three, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
5:34pm: The Heat and Josh Richardson have agreed to terms on a three-year $2.5MM deal, Shams Charania of RealGM reports. The deal is fully guaranteed for the first season and partially guaranteed for the second year, Charania adds.
Miami could offer Richardson a contract of three years because the team still possesses the taxpayer mid-level exception, former Nets executive Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Had the Heat signed someone using that exception, they would only be able to offer a two-year pact.
Richardson was the 40th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. The 21-year-old averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.6 per game last season for the University of Tennessee. The 6’6″ guard likely won’t carry a heavy burden on offense for Miami. If he sees significant minutes, it will most likely be because of his impact on the defensive end.
The Hornets could have had four first-round picks if they’d just been willing to give up the ninth selection to the Celtics, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe detailed earlier today. Boston also offered four first-rounders to the Heat for pick No. 10, as Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald and ESPN reported last month. Both Charlotte and Miami said no and kept their top 10 picks.
The Heat and the Hornets had no guarantee from the Celtics that any of the four picks would be as high in the order as the ones they already held. Still, the ninth and 10th selections aren’t generally places where superstars come from. Justise Winslow looks like a steal at No. 10 for Miami, but Frank Kaminsky, whom Charlotte took at No. 9, has a limited ceiling. Neither is certain to pan out.
Thus, the question for today: Would you rather your team have one pick in the back half of the lottery, or four picks later in the first-round? Kawhi Leonard, a former No. 15 pick, and Jimmy Butler, once the last pick of the first round, signed deals this month that will give them maximum salaries this coming season, proving that top-flight talent can come from any point in the round. Still, the outlook for lottery picks is generally better than it is for anyone else, and teams picking higher in the order have the power of choice. But sometimes, the best choice involves a trade.
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The Magic have amassed just 68 wins in the 246 games that they’ve played since Dwight Howard last suited up for Orlando, but the player and personnel additions made by the team this offseason are providing a sense of hope throughout the organization, as Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders details. Even with a weak Eastern Conference, it’ll be tough the Magic to sneak into the playoffs next season, but a look at all the young talent on the club gives fans plenty to be excited about. Orlando is currently rostering 10 players under 25 years old, including the newly acquired Shabazz Napier, whose recent trade we detail further in tonight’s look at the Southeast Division:
- The 2016 second-round pick going from the Magic to the Heat in the Napier trade is Orlando’s own, and it’s top-55 protected, as RealGM shows. In the likely event that the pick doesn’t convey to the Heat this year, the Magic don’t owe Miami anything.
- The Heat sent their own unprotected 2020 second-round pick to the Celtics in the Zoran Dragic trade, and the 2019 top-55 protected second-rounder going to Miami in the deal is Boston’s own, according to RealGM. The Celtics skip out on their debt if that pick falls within the protected range.
- Elliot Williams is no certainty to make the Hornets’ regular season team after signing a deal to join the team for training camp, but he feels a little more comfortable about his chances of sticking with the organization because GM Rich Cho and assistant GM Chad Buchanan were both with the Blazers when Williams played there, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer notes.
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Knicks, Rockets and Mavericks continue to have interest in signing Carlos Boozer, league sources tell Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (Twitter link). Scotto first identified the Knicks as among the teams eyeing the Rob Pelinka client earlier this month, though Marc Berman of the New York Post reported soon thereafter that the Knicks had engaged in internal conversations about him but hadn’t made a formal pursuit. Chris Broussard of ESPN.com pegged the Mavs and Rockets as among the teams in on Boozer just before free agency began, while Broussard later heard that the Mavs were one of four teams in talks with the former All-Star.
The Knicks and Mavericks have access to the $2.814MM room exception. The Rockets are in a tough spot, since they only have roughly $2.3MM left on their mid-level exception to spend but would trigger a hard cap if they gave any of it to Boozer. Houston also has No. 32 pick Montrezl Harrell who remains unsigned.
Several other teams, including the Clippers, Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat, have reportedly been interested in Boozer over the last month, but it’s unclear if any of them remain in the mix. Boozer and the Clippers reportedly had mutual interest.
- They plan to make an offer to No. 40 overall pick Josh Richardson soon, according to Jackson. The shooting guard from Tennessee will likely see a multiyear offer with partial guarantees similar to the deal that Ennis signed with Miami last year, tweets Winderman.
- Miami didn’t signal the likelihood or lack thereof that it would offer Henry Walker a chance to re-sign with the team, but their parting today was “amicable,” agent Mike Naiditch told Jackson for the same piece.
- Tyler Johnson‘s 50% contract guarantee will be picked up by Saturday’s deadline, according to Winderman (Twitter link). That would mean Johnson will receive at least $422,530 this coming season.
- Team president Pat Riley and point guard Goran Dragic have collectively decided that Dragic won’t play for Slovenia this summer, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press tweets.
1:37pm: The move is official, the team announced.
1:14pm: The Heat plan to waive Henry Walker today, league sources tell Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). A reunion is nonetheless possible should he clear waivers, Charania adds. His salary is to become guaranteed if he remains under his existing contract through Saturday, as our schedule of salary guarantee dates shows. The move would be no surprise, as the forward’s release had been a matter of speculation. Miami has let Walker know that he’ll go on waivers, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Walker first joined the Heat on a 10-day contract in February, later signing another 10-day deal before finally inking a deal that covered the rest of the season plus a non-guaranteed 2015/16 salary. He saw his first regular season NBA action since 2011/12 in his time with the Heat, averaging 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds in 26.2 minutes per game with 34.1% three-point shooting across 24 appearances. The Mike Naiditch client made 13 starts, an uncommonly high number for a late-season pickup, yet it apparently wasn’t enough to ensure his place on the roster for this coming season.
The release of Walker would take Miami down to 14 players, leaving a spot for the team to sign shooting guard Josh Richardson, this year’s No. 40 overall pick, whom the Heat have been trying to clear room for. Miami only has to carry 13 players into the regular season, but the Heat are still reportedly trying to trade Mario Chalmers. Regardless, subtracting Walker would keep $100K from the Heat’s books, a number that would be multiplied many times over if the Heat don’t end up below the $84.74MM tax threshold by season’s end. Miami currently has about $89.2MM in guaranteed salary on its books.
Do you think that Walker will stick in the NBA this time? Leave a comment to let us know.
The Heat have been busy today, formally announcing trades that sent Shabazz Napier to the Magic and Zoran Dragic to the Celtics. They reportedly remain in pursuit of a deal that would take Mario Chalmers and his $4.3MM off their hands as they seek to avoid paying repeat-offender tax penalties. Here’s the latest from South Beach:
- The amount of cash going from the Heat to the Celtics in the Dragic trade is $1.5MM, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. The Suns had paid the rest of his more than $1.706MM salary as a signing bonus last year. Miami will have $1.9MM left to spend in trades, while the Celtics, who took in cash as part of the Perry Jones III trade, too, only have $400K left that they can receive, notes former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter links).
- The 2019 second-round pick that the Celtics owe the Heat as part of the Dragic deal is top-55 protected, so Miami is unlikely to ever actually receive the selection, Himmelsbach reports in the same piece.
- The Heat let No. 40 pick Josh Richardson know last week that they think he’s an NBA-caliber player and that they were doing what they could to find room on the roster for him, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (All Twitter links). The Dragic and Napier trades give the team 15 players, Jackson notes, speculating that Miami will release Henry Walker before his non-guaranteed salary becomes partially guaranteed for $100K on Saturday, a move that would open a spot for Richardson. Still, the roster remains fluid, so Jackson wouldn’t dismiss the idea that Walker will still be with Miami.