Southeast Rumors: Heat, Hornets, Gooden

Heat president of basketball ops Pat Riley shared his thought process behind the decision to trade up in the draft for Shabazz Napier, telling reporters including Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel he heard a team was set to pick the point guard ahead of Miami. “You don’t want to get sort of left at the altar,” Riley said. Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • While the cap holds for the Heat prevent the team from making significant additions without renouncing the rights to recent optouts Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Udonis Haslem, Miami could obtain a $2.5MM room exception for being at least temporarily below the cap, as Brian Windhorst of notes. The exception is only likely to come into play if the trio of James, Wade, and Chris Bosh re-sign at a discounted rate, or if one of them leaves.
  • The Heat have engaged in trade talks to deal away Norris Cole and his $2MM salary, Windhorst adds.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford made it clear to Josh McRoberts and Cody Zeller that the team’s selection of Noah Vonleh does not impact Charlotte’s plans for either player, he tells Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer“When we drafted Noah, the first thing I did was clap, and then I texted (McRoberts and Zeller) that this doesn’t affect their status, their playing time,” Clifford said. “Josh is the starter, coming off a great year. We need him back. I made sure he understood that.” McRoberts declined his player option for next season, but the team has maintained their desire to retain him moving forward.
  • The Hornets will look to improve upon last year’s playoff berth with pieces acquired this summer. “We’ve been preparing for the draft and free agency for the last year,” Charlotte GM Rich Cho tells Bonnell in a separate article. “We have a definite game plan for free agency.” In the same piece, Bonnell looks at some of the free agents the Hornets could target with their cap space this summer.
  • J. Michael of says it’s a “win-win” for free agent Drew Gooden to return to the Wizards. Michael notes that Gooden is still being paid by Milwaukee for his amnestied contract, so it would behoove him to sign a modest deal with Washington in order to preserve his Early Bird Rights for the 2014/15 season.
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