Miami Heat

Florida Notes: Winslow, Vucevic, Chalmers

Justise Winslow, who was selected No. 10 overall by the Heat in this year’s draft, is excited about the creative ways that Miami’s coaching staff is planning on utilizing his diverse skillset this season, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald relays. “It’s going to be good,” Winslow said. “The way they’re using me I think is going to be really special, really going to help me showcase a lot of my skills.” Winslow has been working with the coaching staff to improve the mechanics on his outside shot, which was one of the areas of his game that was criticized heading into this year’s draft, Jackson adds.

I definitely feel comfortable shooting from three-point range but it’s working on everything – pull-ups, mid-range, posting up, finishing. There has been a huge emphasis on my shooting mechanics, trying to get everything more fluid and more natural so I can become a better three-point shooter. But there hasn’t been an over-emphasis on three-point shooting,” said Winslow.

Here’s more from the Sunshine State:

  • Winslow isn’t sure what position he’ll play this season, but noted that the Heat‘s system is built on versatility, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. “The offense, all the positions are pretty interchangeable. And so I’m working on all my skills,” Winslow said. “Just playing alongside all the great players, some of the things will be limited,” he continued. “So just trying to find spots where if I’m in the game with Dwyane Wade , Goran Dragic and Chris Bosh, how I can be most efficient?
  • One of new Magic coach Scott Skiles‘ goals this season will be to get center Nikola Vucevic to be more aggressive and consistent on the defensive end, and to get to the foul line more on offense, Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel writes in his profile of the big man. Vucevic is entering the first season of the four-year, $53MM contract extension he inked with Orlando.
  • Though he is reportedly on the trading block, Mario Chalmers still remains the Heat‘s best option for a solid backup point guard, opines Winderman in his daily mailbag. The Sun Sentinel scribe notes that though Chalmers can be frustrating at times, he can thrive if placed in the right situations.

Eastern Notes: Cherry, Pistons, Wittman

Unrestricted free agent Will Cherry has officially signed with the German club Alba Berlin, the team announced (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). International journalist David Pick first reported the team’s interest and Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports was the first to relay that a signing was imminent. Cherry played in Lithuania last season after he was waived by the Cavaliers. The point guard saw action in eight games while with Cleveland and averaged 1.9 points, 1.0 assist and 0.8 steals in 8.6 minutes per contest.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Stan Van Gundy wanted to hire a shooting coach for his first season with the Pistons, but he didn’t get around to it until this summer, when he brought on Dave Hopla, who’s wasted no time getting to work, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Hopla is working with extension candidate Andre Drummond and others and using analytics to enhance their strokes, as Langlois chronicles.
  • Justise Winslow, who was selected No. 10 overall by the Heat in this year’s draft, blew away team executives during the predraft interview process, Zach Lowe of Grantland relays. The swingman was projected by a number of mock drafts to be a potential top five selection, but he surprisingly fell to Miami with the final pick in the top 10 this past June.
  • The Wizards will have to make a tough decision regarding whether or not coach Randy Wittman is the right man to continue leading the franchise on the court, J. Michael of CSNMid-Atlantic writes. Wittman, who owns a 137-158 record overall with Washington, is entering the second season of his three-year pact, and his contract is only partially guaranteed for the 2016/17 campaign, Michael notes.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Andersen, Chalmers, Wade

Some of the teams with interest in Goran Dragic retreated from the idea of trading for him at the deadline because they felt the Heat had him essentially wrapped up for a long-term deal, sources from across the league tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Still, no one registered a tampering complaint, and a Heat spokesperson said to Lowe that there was no prearranged deal for when he hit free agency in the summer. The Lakers seemed to hang around as a threat, but the Heat appeared to have the inside track to re-sign Dragic right from the time he got to Miami. The All-Star combo guard indeed re-signed on a five-year deal worth slightly more than $85MM last month.

The Heat’s latest move became public this morning, with Miami reportedly having agreed to a camp deal with former Georgetown small forward Greg Whittington. See more from South Beach here:

Heat To Sign Greg Whittington For Camp

The Heat and undrafted small forward Greg Whittington have reached agreement on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). The 22-year-old from Georgetown had three partially guaranteed offers from NBA teams last month, as Charania reported then, so it’s surprising to see him take one without a guarantee, even though he played for Miami’s summer league squad. Still, the Heat seem to offer him a decent shot at the regular season roster, since they have only 12 fully guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show, though they’ll almost certainly keep Hassan Whiteside‘s partially guaranteed pact.

Whittington was a longshot for the draft, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranked him as only the 108th-best prospect. He nonetheless looked sharp during the Las Vegas summer league, averaging 13.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per contest while nailing eight of 17 three-pointers in five appearances after a so-so four-game stint for the Heat in the Orlando summer league. He had seen limited action since an ACL injury to his left knee during the summer of 2013. Academic trouble clouded his time at Georgetown, and after his dismissal from the school, he joined the Westchester Knicks, though he never appeared in a game.

Tyler Johnson would appear to have the inside track on the 14th regular season roster spot for Miami, since he has a partial guarantee worth half of his minimum salary, but James Ennis, Keith Benson and Corey Hawkins all have non-guaranteed pacts. So, Whittington will ostensibly compete with that trio to make it to opening night.

Going into camp, who do you think is the favorite for the Heat’s last regular season roster spot? Leave a comment to let us know.

Pacific Notes: Morris, Rondo, Russell, Davis

Markieff Morris was notably absent as Suns players began gathering for voluntary workouts this week, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Morris, unhappy since his twin brother Marcus was traded to the Pistons July 9th, isn’t expected to attend the sessions. Markieff Morris was irate about the deal and asked the Suns to trade him as well, but Coro notes that it would be nearly impossible for Phoenix to get equal value at this point and the team has no one on the roster to fill his role. The twins are angry because they contend they gave the Suns a break on the extensions they signed last year in hopes of remaining together.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The KingsRajon Rondo tops Yahoo Sports’ Ben Rohrbach’s list of players facing make-or-break seasons in 2015/16. Rondo, who signed a one-year, $9.5MM deal with Sacramento last month, is trying to rebuild his reputation after being shut down early during the playoffs by the Mavericks. Ty Lawson, who was traded to the Rockets July 20th, is second on Rohrbach’s list, followed by Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Boston’s Jared Sullinger and Oklahoma City’s Dion Waiters.
  • The addition of D’Angelo Russell has Lakers‘ part-owner Jim Buss excited about the upcoming season, according to Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times. The Lakers took a risk by drafting Russell second overall, ahead of Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, and Buss said the front office had about 30 meetings before making its final decision. “It was a long, long process that we decided to go with Russell,” Buss said. “He’s just very impressive. We saw an upside of being a potential superstar in the league.”
  • Free agent Glen Davis, who has spent the last season and a half with the Clippers, has to convince a team that he can still be an effective scorer, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Nearing age 30, Davis has evolved into an energy player in recent years, averaging just 4.0 points per game last season, down from a career-high 15.1 in 2012/13. Washburn also notes that the Clippers are being selective in possible deals involving Jamal Crawford. They are willing to part with the 35-year-old, but only for the “right return.”

Heat Rumors: Durant, Riley, Chalmers, Bosh

It’s probably a “pipedream” for the Heat to consider joining the Kevin Durant free agency sweepstakes next summer, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami is looking at about $85MM in guaranteed salary for the 2016/17 season, assuming Hassan Whiteside justifies a near-max contact and Dwyane Wade returns at a rate near his current salary. With Chris Bosh making nearly $24MM and Goran Dragic slotted at about $16MM, Winderman estimates Josh McRoberts (if the Heat can’t trade him), Justise Winslow and a few bench players will add about $10MM more. Wade will represent a figure of about $20MM if he continues at his year-to-year rate. The Heat won’t have full Bird Rights on Whiteside, so they will have to work with cap space to re-sign him. With the cap expected to be around $89MM, those deals will leave little room for a run at Durant unless something drastic changes.

There’s more this morning from Miami:

  • The Heat’s relationship with team president Pat Riley can be described as “all-or-nothing,” Winderman writes in the same story. Even though Riley turned 70 this year, the columnist believes the franchise is counting on having him around for several more seasons. When Riley leaves, Winderman foresees a “re-start,” with another big name being brought in to run the team.
  • Miami wants to see how Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson perform in training camp before deciding whether to trade Mario Chalmers, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. There have been rumors for months that the Heat would like to unload Chalmers’ $4.3MM salary to get relief from the luxury tax. Johnson, who was recently cleared to play after suffering a broken jaw during summer league, will make $845,059 this coming season. Richardson, the 40th pick in this year’s draft, recently signed a three-year deal at the minimum each year and only the first season guaranteed.
  • Bosh and McRoberts both looked good in recent workouts with Heat teammates as they battle back from injuries that cut short their 2014/15 season, Jackson writes in the same piece. Bosh was limited to 44 games because of blood clots on his lungs, and McRoberts appeared in just 17 due to knee surgery. That leaves the Heat with no current injury concerns a month before the start of camp.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Harris, Heat

Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders wonders if this is the year that the Wizards reach the Eastern Conference finals and take their seat among the conference elites. Greene believes Otto Porter’s development will be crucial for the success of the team this season. Washington failed to sign Paul Pierce, who opted to sign a three year deal worth approximately $10MM with the Clippers, leaving Porter to take on a bigger role with the team. New acquisition Jared Dudley should help to ease the burden, but the 30-year-old is recovering from offseason back surgery and is expected to miss nearly a month of the regular season. The Wizards also added Alan Anderson and Gary Neal via free agency and the duo should help boost the team’s bench unit.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic’s new four-year, $64MM deal with Tobias Harris makes him the team’s highest-paid player, and the team will call upon him to score in the clutch, putting him under the microscope like never before, writes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel. Harris, who cares about the way others perceive him, will have to deal with plenty of criticism based on how he performs, Schmitz adds.
  • The Heat shouldn’t need as much from Dwyane Wade on the offensive end as they have in past seasons because of the team’s offseason moves, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sentinel writes in his weekly mailbag. Miami re-signed starting point guard Goran Dragic to a five-year deal worth $85MM. The team also added Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire in free agency.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post.

Carlos Boozer Unlikely To Sign Before Season Starts

Carlos Boozer is likely to remain unsigned for the rest of the offseason and instead seek a deal with a playoff contender after the season starts, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Thus, it appears as though the 13-year veteran simply isn’t seeing an offer that he likes for now, though it casts doubt on the idea that he would bite on apparent interest from the Chinese league, an option that had reportedly intrigued him earlier this month.

Boozer, who turns 34 in November, made $16.8MM combined last season from the Bulls, who waived him via the amnesty clause in July 2014, and the Lakers, who submitted a partial claim of $3.251MM to snag him off waivers. He’d be hard-pressed to make even the amount of that amnesty claim on an NBA contract this season, simply because most teams have no more than the $2.814MM room exception to spend. The Mavericks, one of the latest three NBA teams reported to have interest in him, have only the room exception to use, while the Knicks, another of those interested parties, are limited to the minimum. The Rockets have more than $2.274MM left of their mid-level exception, but using it would impose a hard cap on them, and they still have yet to sign No. 32 overall pick Montrezl Harrell. The Spurs, Raptors, Pelicans, Nuggets, Nets, Lakers and Heat were reportedly interested in the Rob Pelinka client earlier this summer, but none of them have the capacity to give him as much as the Lakers paid for him last year. The Lakers renounced their Bird rights to him last month.

The two-time All-Star put up 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in 2012/13, but his numbers have declined in each of the two seasons since, and his 6.8 boards and 23.8 minutes per contest last season were career lows. Former Nets executive Bobby Marks wouldn’t be surprised if Boozer waited until Christmas to sign (Twitter link). I’d speculate that a decent chance exists that he stays on the market even longer. Ray Allen and Jermaine O’Neal, two other aging former All-Stars, chose to carry on as free agents into the season last year but never wound up signing.

What do you think Boozer will end up doing? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

And-Ones: Thunder, Batum, 2016 Draft

The ESPN Summer Forecast panel tabs the Thunder as the team most likely to vault in the standings this year, which is no surprise given the return of Kevin Durant and the team’s decision to match the Blazers’ offer sheet for high-scoring big man Enes Kanter . The Heat, who re-signed Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic and get Chris Bosh from his blood clot ailment, and the Jazz, who surged late last season, also appear in the top three.

There’s more on Oklahoma City amid other NBA-related news:

  • The Thunder allowed a trade exception that had been worth $1.25MM to expire when they didn’t make a move by Wednesday’s deadline to use it. It was a vestige of the trade that sent Hasheem Thabeet to Philadelphia. Oklahoma City still has other trade exceptions, the largest of which is worth $2.75MM thanks to the last of this summer’s many deals involving Luke Ridnour.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford says that he envisions Nicolas Batum having a more prominent offensive role in Charlotte than he did with the Blazers last season, as Adi Joseph of The Sporting News relays (via Twitter). Charlotte acquired Batum, 26, from the Blazers in June as part of the trade that shipped Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson to Portland.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider subscription required) released his initial mock draft for 2016, and snagging the top spot is LSU freshman small forward Ben Simmons, followed by Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere and California swingman Jaylen Brown.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Latest On Potential Heat Trades, Mario Chalmers

The Heat expect to keep Mario Chalmers until at least the start of training camp, and owner Micky Arison has made no demand that the team shed salary, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The prospect of trading for Jamal Crawford, an idea the Heat reportedly raised in talks with the Clippers nearly two months ago, “can’t be ruled out,” but Miami is satisfied with its depth on the perimeter, Jackson writes. The Heat are still willing to trade Chris Andersen, but the market for him has been soft, Jackson hears from a higher-up who’s been in contact with the Heat, and no evidence suggests the Clippers are interested in him as part of a swap involving Crawford, Jackson adds.

The Heat would still prefer to offload salary and haven’t ruled out trading Chalmers, set to make a guaranteed $4.3MM in the final season of his contract this year, as soon as October, according to Jackson. The point guard hasn’t given indications that he’s expecting to be traded, and team president Pat Riley denied reports around draft time indicating that the team was shopping Chalmers and Andersen. Grantland’s Zach Lowe nonetheless heard a couple of weeks later that Chalmers and Andersen were available “for nothing.” Andersen didn’t seem concerned about the rumors when he made a public appearance earlier this week, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel chronicles.

An opposing GM told Jackson in mid-July that Chalmers and Shabazz Napier were the players the Heat were shopping the most aggressively, and Miami dealt Napier to the Magic later that month for no salary in return. That, plus the swap that sent Zoran Dragic to the Celtics with no other salary involved, helped Miami lower its payroll, though the Heat still have about $90.4MM in guaranteed salary, which puts them about $5.66MM above the $84.74MM luxury tax threshold. The Heat would have to pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they’re still above the tax line on the final day of the regular season. Miami only has 12 players on fully guaranteed deals, and if they keep Hassan Whiteside on his partially guaranteed contract but get rid of everyone else, they’d have a tax bill of roughly $16.3MM. Jackson estimates the tax bill at around $23MM, though that appears to include some of the non-guaranteed contracts.

Do you think the Heat will move below the luxury tax line this season? If so, how do you think they’ll manage to do it? Leave a comment to tell us.

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