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Miami Heat

Heat Notes: 16th Man, Injuries, Richardson, Dragic

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed today that the NBA has granted the team a harship exception, allowing for a 16th player to be added to the roster (Twitter link). According to Spoelstra, Miami has not yet determined which player will be added to the roster using that exemption (Twitter link). However, the Heat coach may simply be waiting until the move is official to formally discuss the team’s newest player — according to reports on Sunday, Miami is prepared to call up Okaro White from its D-League affiliate to take that 16th roster spot.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel explains why the Heat qualify for a hardship exception that allows them to add a 16th player, providing updates on where things stand on sidelined players like Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, and Justise Winslow.
  • Meanwhile, Josh Richardson will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks of action, Spoelstra confirmed today (Twitter link). When Richardson is ready to return, the Heat will have to part ways with someone to get back down to 15 players.
  • In a mailbag for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman discusses the possibility of the Heat matching up with the Magic for a Goran Dragic trade. In Winderman’s view, it makes sense for Miami to be patient if any such deal would involve a 2017 first-round pick, since the Heat would want to be sure that pick lands as high as possible in the draft. Of course, the further Orlando is from the playoff race in the East, the less likely the team is to part with a 2017 pick.
  • Within the same mailbag, Winderman also suggests that James Johnson and Wayne Ellington are more likely than someone like Derrick Williams to generate interest as trade chips.

Heat To Sign Okaro White

The Heat will sign power forward Okaro White from their D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, after Miami acquired a player exception, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). The hardship exception was granted because Miami has four players that have missed at least three games, as Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets.  International journalist David Pick tweets that the Heat will make the signing on Monday and that it will be a 10-day pact.

The Heat have battled the injury bug all season with notable players missing significant time. Chris Bosh is out because of his ongoing battle with blood clots, second-year forward Justise Winslow is out for the year after shoulder surgery and veteran big man Josh McRoberts is sidelined indefinitely with a foot problem. It is unclear how long White will be with Miami, but the 24-year-old is averaging 18.4 ppg and 8.7 rpg while shooting 43% from the field for Sioux Falls.

White was cut by Miami after training camp before playing in the D-League. White went undrafted out of Florida State in 2014 and then headed overseas, spending the 2014/15 campaign with the Italian club Granarolo Bologna, where he averaged 12.2 points and 6.9 rebounds on the season. White then headed to Greece, notching averages of 13.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 26.8 minutes per outing. He shot .465/.337/.791 from the field on the year.

The Case For Miami's Trade Assets

  • The Heat are doing their due diligence when it comes to fielding trade offers, so Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel went so far as to break down each major player’s case as an available asset.

Magic Notes: Dragic, Crabbe, Vucevic, Harkless

Orlando is among several teams that have contacted the Heat about Goran Dragic, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. The Magic are looking to solidify their point guard position, which belonged to Elfrid Payton when the season began, but was taken over by D.J. Augustin in late November. Dragic still has three years and more than $54MM left on his current contract. He is averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists in 32 games this season, but has missed time recently with back problems.

There’s more news today out of Orlando:

  • After losing six of their last seven and dropping to 16-24, the Magic need to act quickly to save their season, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Offense has been a problem for Orlando all year, and Schmitz says the team needs to find a scorer who can create his own shot. He suggests Allen Crabbe of the Trail Blazers as a realistic target and suggests offering, possibly with shot-blocking center Bismack Biyombo going to Portland in return.
  • Nikola Vucevic will be back in the starting lineup tonight, with Biyombo coming off the bench, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Vucevic was demoted along with Payton in the November shakeup. Coach Frank Vogel plans to utilize more “small-ball” lineups with Jeff Green moving to power forward and Mario Hezonja back in the rotation as a backup small forward.
  • The Magic made a huge error when they gave up on Maurice Harkless two years ago, Robbins argues in a separate piece. After three disappointing seasons in Orlando, Harkless was traded to Portland in the summer of 2015 in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2020. He was a regular starter for the Blazers during last year’s playoffs and has started all 40 games in which he has appeared this season. “It was a tough situation: a lot of guys trying to figure it out, including the staff and the front office,” Harkless said of his time in Orlando. “It was a unique situation. It was tough. Obviously, it wasn’t going to work out for everybody. I think a change of scenery is what I needed.”

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Durant, Spoelstra

Hassan Whiteside said he doesn’t pay attention to the rumors and trade speculation surrounding his name, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel relays. “If I pay attention to it, I wouldn’t be back in the league. There’s all kind of rumors. A lot of people said a lot of things to keep me from being back in the league,” Whiteside said.

It was previously reported that no member of the Heat was off-limits in trade talks, but on Tuesday, a team spokesman shot down that report.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Dealing Whiteside just six months after signing him to a four-year, $98MM contract would be troublesome for the franchise, Winderman argues in his weekly mailbag. Part of the value in retaining Whiteside was not letting an asset leave without getting anything back in return, Winderman adds before stressing that the team should be patient when evaluating possible trades.
  • If Whiteside is going to be the team’s franchise player, he needs to be more consistent, Winderman writes in the same piece. The scribe calls for more performances like the one against the Warriors on Tuesday, where the center pulled down 20 rebounds and scored 28 points.
  • The Heat always thought they had a chance to sign Kevin Durant in free agency up until the 2013/14 MVP signed with the Warriors, Winderman writes in a separate piece. “We’re all wired to think that we always have a chance,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Heat. Spoelstra added that he was impressed with how Durant handled himself when the small-forward met with the team over the summer. “Big fan before I met him. That was the only time I had ever met him. Bigger fan after that, even after he chose Golden State,” he said of Durant.

Heat Open To Dealing Hassan Whiteside?

10:14 pm: A team spokesperson denies the ESPN report, telling Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) that the center is not available in trade talks.

9:45 pm: No player on the Heat is untouchable in trade talks, including Hassan Whiteside, Zach Lowe reports in his latest podcast. Lowe added that he believes the team is “open for business” regarding its willingness to shake things up.

It was previously reported that there’s a growing sense that the franchise will seriously explore moving Goran Dragic and other veterans prior to the deadline. However, Marc Stein of ESPN reported last week that the asking price for the point guard remains “too high to encourage any serious trade discussions.” 

Whiteside signed a four-year, $98MM deal with Miami over the offseason and despite putting up impressive stats, he hasn’t been able to elevate the team in the win column. It remains to be seen what the team would want in return for the 27-year-old, though I speculate it would take at least an unprotected first-round pick or a promising player on a rookie deal to pry him from South Beach. The Blazers and Mavs were among the teams to show interest in the big man during free agency.

Miami currently owns the second spot in our Reverse Standings, which means if the season ended today, the franchise would have a 19.9% chance at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Heat are in good position to angle for that top pick by executing a tanking strategy, though there has been no indication that they plan on taking that route at this time.

Heat Notes: Richardson, Dragic, Reed, Winslow

The Heat are starting to focus on the future as this season continues to unravel, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Dwyane Wade‘s departure for Chicago and Chris Bosh‘s ongoing battle with blood clots robbed Miami of two huge talents. On top of that, second-year forward Justise Winslow is out for the year after shoulder surgery and veteran big man Josh McRoberts is sidelined indefinitely with a foot problem. While this appears to be a lost season, Miami is in position to rebuild quickly. At 11-27 and third in our Reverse Standings, the Heat will have a high draft pick this summer. The final two seasons of Bosh’s contract will probably be cleared away by a medical hardship, making Miami a player on the free agent market again. “It’s a competitive league and everybody wants to be that last team, but who has a coherent plan? Who’s committed to that plan? Who’s disciplined for that plan when there’s a lot of noise and it’s not necessarily getting the results that you want?” said coach Eric Spoelstra. “We’re able to see great promise, hope, and progress with this team. If you know anything about our organization, we have a plan.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • An MRI performed Saturday on guard Josh Richardson‘s left ankle was negative and he is listed as day-to-day, according to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Center Hassan Whiteside, who has missed four games with a bruised retina, is expected back today.
  • Willie Reed made an impression on Spoelstra with his play during Whiteside’s absence, Navarro writes in the same piece. The performance of the second-year center, who signed with Miami over the summer, “definitely earned him more minutes, more opportunities,” Spoelstra said.
  • If the Heat are able to get two draft picks for point guard Goran Dragic, one may come well in the future, speculates Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. A scout told Winderman the Heat are unlikely to get a pick anywhere near the top of this year’s lottery by dealing Dragic.
  • Miami shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Winslow’s $3.5 million rookie-scale salary for 2018-19, Winderman argues in a separate column. He notes that Winslow, the 10th pick in the 2015 draft, will only be 21 when training camp opens, and although he is coming off a poor shooting season he can contribute as a rebounder, defender and playmaker.

Heat Apply For Disabled Player Exception

The Heat have applied for a disabled player exception in light of the recent injury to forward Justise Winslow, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. The news comes on the heels of Winslow’s successful but presumably season-ending procedure to repair a torn labrum that he suffered last week.

Although the surgery went well according to a release published on the team’s website, the club will look to add an extra body heading into the second half of the season. Teams have until January 15 to apply for one of the disabled player exceptions and if approved are free to sign a replacement player making up to either 50% of the injured player’s salary or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is lower.

In Miami’s case, should the application be granted, they’ll be free to sign somebody worth up to approximately $1.3MM due to Winslow’s $2.6MM deal without it using up cap space. Though not applicable in this scenario, the non-taxpayer mid-level exception for 2016-17 is $5.6MM.

The Heat are currently down a roster spot already considering that Chris Bosh has yet to be medically cleared to play for the team. In Bosh’s case, the Heat retain the option to apply for a disabled player exception worth the full non-taxpayer MLE, but appear instead to be holding onto Bosh with the intent of waiving him and potentially clearing his contract from their books altogether. More on Bosh’s contract situation in this October feature by USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt.

With Winslow out, one potential replacement that has been mentioned by The Palm Beach Post’s Anthony Chiang is Briante Weber. Weber has thrived this season with Miami’s D-League affiliate and was one of the last cut from the team after training camp. As of Thursday, Chiang notes, teams have been eligible to sign players to 10-day contracts.

Salary information from HoopsHype was used in this report.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Bosh, Roster, Waiters

The Heat already owned the NBA’s third-worst record, and announced on Wednesday that they will likely be without forward Justise Winslow for the rest of the season. While the team looks like a prime tanking candidate, don’t tell that to Erik Spoelstra, who tells Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel that Miami remains focused on winning games.

“We’re always going to play our games to win,” said the Heat head coach. “It’s been tough to be in this situation right now. But we’re developing. Guys are getting better. The team is progressing and that’s all we’re focusing on right now. The mentality won’t change.”

With so many young players on their roster, the Heat could engage in a sort of “natural” tank this season, leaning heavily on those young players who might not be ready to lead the club to many victories. However, Spoelstra added that he doesn’t intend to play anyone based on anything “other than merit, and earning it.”

Here’s more from out of Miami:

  • Heat sources have suggested to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders that the idea of rebuilding around Goran Dragic has some appeal. However, Kyler adds that there’s a “growing sense” that Miami will seriously explore the idea of moving Dragic and other veteran players on expiring deals prior to the trade deadline.
  • Appearing on a panel at a conference in Las Vegas, Chris Bosh admitted that he’d getting a “taste of retirement” this year, though he didn’t suggest he has given up on the idea of making a comeback. Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (via NBA.com) has the details and the quotes from Bosh.
  • Although the Heat have three players on their roster – Winslow, Bosh, and Josh McRoberts – who might be out for the rest of the 2016/17 season, the team isn’t eligible for the hardship exception to add a 16th player, as Winderman explains in a Sun Sentinel story.
  • With Dion Waiters back in action for the Heat after missing 20 games with a groin injury, the team will have to determine how he fits in the rotation, Winderman writes in another Sun Sentinel piece. Waiters is eligible to opt out of his contract and return to the free agent market in 2017, so it’s possible Miami will look to move him prior to February’s trade deadline.

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