Rudy Gay might have been a better free agent target for the Heat than Kelly Olynyk, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. In response to a reader’s question, Winderman notes that Gay was rehabbing from his Achilles injury in Florida and expressed interest in coming to Miami before winding up in San Antonio. Gay got a little more than $17MM over two years, with about $8.8MM of that as a player option for next season. Olynyk received $46MM over four years from the Heat.
Gay would have given Miami a proven alternative at small forward when Rodney McGruder was lost to a left tibia stress fracture. The Heat couldn’t have known in July that McGruder would be unavailable, but Winderman says depth at that position would have been desirable if the plan all along was to move Justise Winslow to power forward. Gay is averaging 11.8 points and 5.3 rebounds through 16 games with the Spurs, while Olynyk is putting up 9.2 points and 5.5 boards in 15 games.
There’s more this morning from the Sunshine State:
- In the same piece, Winderman questions whether the Heat will be willing to make another max offer to Hassan Whiteside if he opts out of his current deal after next season. As small-ball continues to spread throughout the league, some teams are re-evaluating the worth of traditional centers. Whiteside will have an early-termination option on his salary of slightly more than $27MM for 2019/20.
- After being one of the league’s early-season surprises, the Magic already face a crossroads to their season after Saturday’s 40-point loss to the Jazz, writes Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando came out of the gate at 6-2, but is back at .500 after dropping four straight games. Coach Frank Vogel hinted that changes might be on the way and called last night’s performance “unacceptable,” a sentiment shared by many of the players. “I think we lost what made us good at the beginning of the season: playing together, having fun out there, enjoying the game,” Nikola Vucevic said. “Over-dribbling, over-trying to get stuff instead of just playing simple basketball, like we did earlier in the year, it just affects us little by little. It just takes away from our energy. It’s like it’s taking little bites [out of us]. By the end of the game, there was no energy left.”
- The Magic got some good news Saturday with the return of veteran guard D.J. Augustin. An important part of Orlando’s surprising early-season success, Augustin missed seven games with a hamstring injury. He was held scoreless in 17 minutes yesterday, but was averaging 8.3 points and 5.1 assists through his first eight games and shooting 39% from 3-point range.