The health of shooting guard Dion Waiters looms as one of the Heat’s biggest question marks heading into next season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. Waiters has been hampered two seasons by an ankle injury, which required season-ending surgery in January. The Heat believe Waiters will be better than ever once he heals but it’s no slam dunk he’ll even be ready for training camp. Miami president Pat Riley believes the return of Waiters, who appeared in just 30 games after signing a four-year, $52MM contract last summer, will be akin to adding a quality free agent.
“He was playing hurt for a year and a half for the most part,” Riley said. “I’m glad he had the surgery. I hope the surgery is 100 percent successful. You got a very talented 26-year-old player that still wants to make his mark and we don’t have to go out and pay somebody $25 million to get him to play.”
In other news concerning the Heat:
- It’s more likely that Justise Winslow will get traded than Josh Richardson, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Winslow, who is still on his rookie deal, has one more guaranteed year remaining at $3.45MM. Richardson signed a four-year, $42MM extension last September. The Heat could use Winslow as a chip in a package for a top-level player or as a sweetener to dump a bad contract, with Jackson citing Tyler Johnson’s deal as an example. In contrast, Richardson would probably only be traded for an All-Star caliber player, Jackson adds.
- The Suns’ hiring of Slovenian national team coach Igor Kokoskov as their head coach doesn’t necessarily increase the possibility of Goran Dragic being reunited with Phoenix, Winderman opines in a blog post. Acquiring a 31-year-old point guard probably wouldn’t make much sense for the rebuilding Suns, Winderman notes. However, if the Heat can regain the unprotected 2021 first-round pick they dealt to acquired Dragic, that might make it worth their while, Winderman adds.
- What does the future hold for the Heat’s free agents? Austin Kent takes a closer look in our free agent stock watch.