Month: October 2017

2017 Offseason In Review: Miami Heat

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2017 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2017/18 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Miami Heat.

Signings:James Johnson vertical

Camp invitees:


Draft picks:


Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Used up cap room. Now operating over the cap, but well under the tax. Carrying approximately $100MM in guaranteed team salary. Room exception ($4.328MM) still available.

Check out the Miami Heat’s full roster and depth chart at

Story of the summer:

An annual threat to land the top players on the free agent market, the Heat are an appealing possible destination for stars for a variety of reasons, including the head coach, the management team, the culture, and – not least of all – the climate. As such, it’s no surprise that the front office went after Gordon Hayward this offseason — the All-Star forward wasn’t the best free agent on the market, but he was probably the best one who legitimately considered changing teams.

For the second straight year, however, the Heat secured a meeting with the summer’s top free agent, only to be eliminated from consideration early. A year ago, Kevin Durant passed on the allure of South Beach, and this time around, Hayward’s decision ultimately came down to Utah vs. Boston.

A lack of recent success chasing stars won’t necessarily diminish Pat Riley‘s enthusiasm for pursuing them in future offseasons, but it did force him to change directions this year. Rather than locking up a bunch of players to one-year contracts and rolling over their cap space to the summer of 2018, the Heat made lucrative, long-term commitments to a handful of players after missing out on Hayward.

James Johnson went from a one-year deal worth $4MM to a four-year deal worth $60MM. Dion Waiters, coming off a contract that paid him less than $3MM for one year, inked a four-year pact worth $47MM+. Josh Richardson wasn’t a free agent, but he got a new contract too, signing an extension that will bump his salary from the minimum this year to more than $10MM annually for the next four seasons.

It’s an intriguing strategy for the Heat, one that probably eliminates any chance they had of making a free agent splash in 2018. There are many movable contracts on the roster, so targeting stars on the trade market will still be an option. But Miami’s Plan B this summer suggests that Riley – in the years between legit title contention – is far more comfortable putting together a solid, but unspectacular, roster capable of making the playoffs than he would be blowing things up in search of potential star power in the draft.

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Southeast Notes: Schroder, Oubre Jr., Carter-Williams

It wasn’t long ago when Hawks guard Dennis Schroder was regarded as an up-and-coming star. Lately, however, the market has soured on the German export. In a fan mailbag column, Chris Mannix of The Vertical writes that there’s a toxicity surrounding the 24-year-old that has limited his trade value.

Given that newly appointed Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk has been dead set on clearing cap room and maintaining financial flexibility, it seems logical that he would be looking to unload the final four years of Schroder’s contract. In reality, however, it may not be so simple.

While the idea of finding a buyer for Schroder a season or two seemed incredibly easy, concerns around the league about the guard’s maturity – especially after a recent assault charge – have limited what the Hawks could get for him.

In that case, Mannix writes, unless the Hawks want to give the 17.9-point-per-game guard away for next to nothing, they’d be better off sticking with him and hoping that he matures into a player they’re comfortable building around.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Point guard Michael Carter-Williams will have to wait to make his debut with the Hornets. Although the guard was recently cleared for contact, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports that he suffered a setback on Monday that will bump back his timeline.
  • If Kelly Oubre can play as he did in Washington’s season opener, he may well find a bigger role than the one he saw with the Wizards last season. As Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes, Oubre thrived when he subbed in for Jason Smith, making a strong case to earn more minutes in a small ball version of the team’s lineup.
  • The Hawks have named Michelle Leftwich their new vice president of salary cap administration, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes.  She’ll work alongside general manager Travis Schlenk.

Knicks Will Sign Isaiah Hicks To Two-Way Contract

The Knicks are planning to sign forward Isaiah Hicks to a two-way contract, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The North Carolina alum went through training camp with the Hornets earlier this month.

After going undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Tar Heel will look to make an impression with the franchise bouncing between the New York squad and the Knicks’ G League affiliate in Westchester.

Once the move becomes official, both of the Knicks’ two-way slots will be filled, with center Luke Kornet occupying the other one.

Pacific Notes: Green, Kings, Clippers

The results from Draymond Green‘s MRI have come back negative, Chris Haynes of ESPN writes. The Warriors forward injured his knee in Tuesday’s season opener, missing the entire fourth quarter.

While it’s likely Green misses time as a result of the injury that had him limping in the team’s first game, the good news for the Warriors is that there was no structural damage that would necessitate a longer absence.

In 76 games for the Warriors last season, Green averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists. If Golden State is going to survive an even stronger Western Conference than last year’s they’ll need to do it at full health.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Knicks Notes: Measuring Success, Height, Hardaway Jr.

The Knicks may not be a likely bet to contend for a playoff spot without Carmelo Anthony but that doesn’t mean that the season can’t still end up being worthwhile. Marc Berman of ESPN spoke about the state of the franchise with analyst and former New York guard Greg Anthony.

This year, the broadcaster says, the team will need to gain confidence, establish leadership and grow team chemistry, whether they find themselves in the hunt for a postseason bid or not.

Regardless of the team’s win total, however, the organization’s new front office tandem of Steve Mills and Scott Perry will be under the microscope. After the disappointing reign of Phil Jackson, Berman writes that it will be hard for them to be any worse.

There’s more from the Knicks:

  • There’s a good chance that Kristaps Porzingis will one day be the face of the Knicks franchise but head coach Jeff Hornacek thinks that his 22-year-old star will need to grow into that role in time, Ian Begley of ESPN writes.
  • The Knicks are an unusually tall team at a time when some of the NBA’s most successful franchises are going small, Mike Vorkunov of the New York Times writes.
  • When summer signee Tim Hardaway Jr. was shipped off from the Knicks to the Hawks and then demoted to the team’s G League affiliate, it served as a wake up call, the guard told Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “[Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer] putting me down there just made me realize you got to work hard, man. You can’t come here expecting to play. I thought I was going to come in and play. I realized I had veterans in front of me that I had to outwork and compete each and every day. Once I got better he trusted me in that process and it got me to where I am right now.”

Blazers, Wade Baldwin Agree On Two-Way Contract

The Blazers and free agent point guard Wade Baldwin have agreed on a two-way deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The 21-year-old was waived by the Grizzlies earlier in the week.

Baldwin will join a Portland franchise that has done a particularly good job developing guards over the years, most notably their star backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Considering Baldwin’s potential heading into his rookie campaign as a first-round pick last season, it will be interesting to see if the change of scenery serves him well.

Baldwin averaged just 3.2 points per game in limited time on the court last season but spent the summer in competition with Andrew Harrison for a role off the bench in Memphis. In Portland, Baldwin will set out to steal minutes from incumbent backups Shabazz Napier and Isaiah Briscoe.

While Baldwin’s contract will be a two-way deal, the Blazers currently lack a direct G League affiliate so he, like any of the players for any of the four NBA team’s without an affiliate, could find himself suiting up for various G League squads over the course of the season.

Central Notes: Pacers, Bell, Bulls

The Pacers have made a concerted effort to play a faster tempo and managed to do just that thanks to their new-look backcourt spearheaded by Victor Oladipo. As Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes, Indiana managed to up their pace eventually outrunning their opening day opponent altogether.

While Oladipo led the squad in scoring with 22 points in Indiana’s first game, he wasn’t the only guard to post an impressive stat line. Veteran Darren Collison added 21 and 11 of his own while reserve guard Cory Joseph – plucked from the Raptors this offseason – put in 11 points and 4 assists of his own for the victorious Pacers.

[Pacers coach] Nate MacMillan’s done an unbelievable job of letting us take the onus as point guards and kind of let us run the show,” Collison said. “He was a point guard himself. He knows what it’s like to let us see the game, instead of micromanaging every single play. If we can play like that, call a guard game, play with one another, we’ll be alright.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls have gotten flak for, among other things, selling second-round pick Jordan Bell to the Warriors. Cody Westerlund of 670 The Score tweets that general manager John Paxson said that he was “building up equity” with ownership when he sold the No. 38 pick to Golden State for $3.5MM.
  • After a down year besieged by injuries in 2016/17, Reggie Jackson has recovered and returned to the court for the Pistons. He’s “only going to get better as time goes on” head coach Stan Van Gundy told the media, Brendan Savage of MLive included.
  • The Bulls are looking to regroup after a fight in practice set the team into chaos before the season even began. Sam Smith of the team’s official website offers an inside account of what happened and what comes next.

2017 Offseason In Review: Oklahoma City Thunder

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2017 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2017/18 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Signings:Patrick Patterson vertical

Camp invitees:


Draft picks:

Draft-and-stash signings:

  • Dakari Johnson (2015; No. 48) — Signed to two-year, minimum salary contract.
  • Daniel Hamilton (2016; No. 56) — Signed to two-way contract.


Departing players:

Other offseason news:

  • Hired Rob Hennigan as vice president of insight and foresight.
  • Lost assistant general manager Michael Winger to the Clippers.

Salary cap situation:

  • Operating over the cap and over the tax. Carrying approximately $131MM in guaranteed team salary. Only minimum salary exception available.

Check out the Oklahoma City Thunder’s full roster and depth chart at

Story of the summer:

The Thunder approached the 2017 offseason with one goal and one goal only: To lock Russell Westbrook into as long a contract extension as they were eligible to offer. It wasn’t a question of money – the organization was more than willing to offer top dollar – but rather a question of whether Oklahoma City would be the right place for Westbrook to play out the prime of his NBA career.

To convince the reigning MVP to stay on board, the Thunder went out and made it abundantly clear that they were willing to surround him with a formidable supporting cast. General manager Sam Presti pulled the trigger on not just one blockbuster trade this summer, but two. Shortly thereafter, Westbrook put pen to paper on the largest contract extension in NBA history.

The Thunder had no qualms brazenly committing to superstars, and managed to get a pair of them discounted heavily after months of trade rumors. Even if the organization’s ambitious reload doesn’t result in a title before Paul George and Carmelo Anthony hit the open market as free agents, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a successful summer in OKC.

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Teams With Open Roster Spots

For the first time, NBA teams are permitted to carry up to 17 players this season. In addition to carrying up to 15 players to the NBA roster, teams can add two more players on two-way contracts. The rule changes related to roster sizes have allowed teams to maintain a little extra flexibility, and many clubs are taking advantage of that added flexibility to open the season, carrying the full 17 players.

Several teams still have open roster spots though, affording those clubs a different kind of flexibility. A team carrying only 14 NBA players, for instance, has the opportunity to sign a free agent or add a player in a trade at any time without waiving anyone, all the while avoiding paying for a 15th man who almost certainly won’t see much playing time.

With the help of our roster count page and our two-way contract tracker, here’s a breakdown of the teams that have at least one open NBA or two-way spot on their rosters:

Teams carrying just 14 NBA contracts:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Portland Trail Blazers

It makes sense that a few of these teams would avoid carrying a 15th man to open the season. The Rockets, Thunder, and Trail Blazers are all taxpayers, and teams like the Clippers and Hornets are close enough to the tax threshold that avoiding a 15th salary is logical. Among these clubs, the Celtics seem like perhaps the best bet to fill their final roster opening soon, now that the team has likely lost Gordon Hayward for the season.

Teams carrying just one two-way contract:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New York Knicks
  • Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers don’t currently have a G League affiliate of their own, but the other five teams on this list do, so that’s probably not the reason Portland has waited to fill its second two-way slot. In all likelihood, these six teams will add a second two-way player in time for G League training camps, which open next week. The season tips off on November 3.

Northwest Notes: Hood, Wolves, Connaughton

Prior to Monday’s extension deadline, Rodney Hood‘s camp “worked hard” on getting something done, but couldn’t find common ground with the Jazz, says Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Kyler adds that Utah figures to match any offer for Hood next summer, if he stays healthy in 2017/18.

Although Hood struggled in his first game this season, putting up just six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes as he battled a stomach bug, he’s expected to play a significant role for the Jazz this season in the wake of Gordon Hayward‘s departure. A breakout season for Hood could make him an interesting restricted free agent next July.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In an extensive and in-depth piece for, Tom Haberstroh takes a closer look at the job Tom Thibodeau is doing in Minnesota as the Timberwolves‘ head coach and president of basketball operations, exploring whether the club is ready to take a leap forward and whether there’s any risk of Thibodeau overworking his key players.
  • Appearing on Altitude AM950 in Denver, Nuggets guard Gary Harris discussed his contract extension, his role for the coming season, and the team’s offseason addition of Paul Millsap.
  • The Trail Blazers had a chance to avoid guaranteeing Pat Connaughton‘s salary for the coming season if they’d waived him over the summer, but Portland decided to keep him around, and that decision looked good on opening night, writes Casey Holdahl of
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