Rodney McGruder‘s hot start to the new season could affect the Heat’s plans for the trade deadline, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Through seven games, McGruder ranks 16th among small forwards in scoring, 11th in shooting percentage and seventh in 3-point shooting. He will be eligible for an extension through the end of June that could pay as much as $47MM over four seasons.
If they Heat decide to make that commitment, they’ll become more likely to trade other wing players to shed salary. Tyler Johnson and Dion Waiters have been on the market for months, Jackson notes, but other contracts may have to be moved to avoid a substantial luxury tax bill.
Miami has $135.2MM committed to 10 players for 2019/20, assuming Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic all opt in to their current deals. That puts the Heat above the projected $132MM tax line and doesn’t account for the cost of re-signing Wayne Ellington, who will be a free agent next summer after making $6.3MM this year.
There’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Heat are willing to continue trade talks for Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler even though their last attempt ended in an angry exchange between the organizations, Jackson adds in the same story. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported today that Minnesota’s asking price for Butler is still high (Twitter link).
- Dwight Howard is working in the same facility with the Capital City Go Go while rehabbing a strained piriformis muscle, but he has to coordinate his schedule so he doesn’t actually practice with the team, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The NBA doesn’t let its players practice with G League squads, so Howard has been working out with Wizards player development assistants Alex McLean and Mike Williams. He is expected to make his season debut on Friday.
- Hornets rookie Devonte’ Graham will spend at least two games in the G League, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Head coach James Borrego says he wants to get the young point guard used to a heavy dose of minutes, which he can’t do at the NBA level. “These are critical moments [with the Greensboro Swarm] to go play meaningful 5-on-5 games,” Borrego said. “We can’t replicate that for him right now. And even if I could get him into the game – last night to get him two or three minutes of run – it’s not the same as sending him to Greensboro and playing. I’m excited for him and he’s excited to play.”