Derrick Jones

Eastern Notes: Wizards, Heat, Celtics

The Wizards are still looking to make moves with their $8.6MM trade exception and in free agency, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Washington has already agreed to a sign-and-trade to ship out Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls, agreed to a two-year deal with Ish Smith and come to terms with center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat are still seeking to ship out contracts to ease their cap burden and reduce the need to stretch Ryan Anderson‘s contract, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Miami is hopeful of reducing or eliminating its luxury tax penalty for next summer, Jackson adds. The Heat are trying to hold onto Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones Jr. but are open to moving other veterans, Jackson adds in another tweet. The Heat have been extremely active in recent days, most notably piecing together a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler and reaching an agreement to trade Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers.
  • The Celtics have reached agreements with free agents Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter but they’re far from done, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The Celtics are still looking at a number of free agents and potential sign-and-trades that could free up money to get another impact player, Bulpett continues. Interior defense is the biggest area of need, he adds.

Sixers, Heat Search For New Team To Join Jimmy Butler Sign-And-Trade

The Heat are still working on options to complete the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade with the Sixers, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The two sides will search for a third team to take on additional salary from Miami, as Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

[RELATED: Heat Finalizing Sign-And-Trade For Jimmy Butler]

The Mavericks appeared to be the team willing to take on salary in order to help both teams complete the trade. It was reported that Goran Dragic would be sent to Dallas as part of a three-team deal, but the Mavs then felt that Dragic’s salary would eat into their cap space and hinder their other plans.

Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones were believed to be taking Dragic’s place in the trade, but then it was revealed that the Heat did not want to part with Jones in the deal. The Olynyk/Jones combo wouldn’t have been quite enough from a salary-matching perspective anyway.

The Heat will look for a trade partner for Dragic out of respect for the veteran. The team and his representatives are working to find a deal by July 6. per Shelburne. However, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) hears from Dragic’s camp that there is no joint effort yet to find him a suitor.

Dragic will make approximately $19.2MM next season. After a day of contract agreements, The Mavericks, Clippers, and Lakers are the only teams with the clear ability to absorb Dragic’s deal without sending salary back, though other teams could potentially create the necessary space.

It’s possible the Mavericks will change its stance again on Dragic once they have a clearer picture of who they can sign with their cap space, though that’s simply my speculation.

Assuming the two sides find a third team to make the sign-and-trade work, Josh Richardson will go to Philadelphia and Butler will begin the Miami chapter of his career on a four-year max deal.

Potential Mavs, Heat Trade Hits Snag

11:59pm: Tim Cato of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter) that the deal is off from the Mavs’ perspective. It’s up to the Heat to salvage the deal, possibly with another team, Cato adds.

As detailed below, Miami’s acquisition of Butler is dependent on the team being able to send salary to a third team, so it’s hard to imagine the Heat not figuring it out with some team, but they’re losing leverage and don’t have a ton of assets left to sweeten the deal.

10:21pm: There’s a “glitch” in the agreement between the Mavericks and Heat, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, who tweets that Miami is reluctant to part with Jones and Dallas is telling people that the deal is off.

The Mavericks maintain that they thought they were getting Olynyk and Jones in the deal, but the Heat don’t want to give up Jones and say they must part with Dragic to make the math work, tweets Stein. As noted below, the Heat would have to send out at least one more player to an Olynyk/Jones package to make the trade work financially.

There’s an expectation that the deal is far enough down the road that things will get ironed out, says Weiss. The Heat’s acquisition of Butler hinges on sending out other salaries, so Miami will be very motivated to get it done. However, as Nahmad points out (via Twitter), it will be tricky for the Heat to stay under the tax apron without moving bigger salaries.

10:01pm: The Mavericks and Heat have changed the framework on their part of the sign-and-trade deal that will send Butler to Miami, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links). Rather than acquiring Dragic, Dallas will land Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones, Stein reports.

According to Stein, the Mavs are “huge fans” of Dragic, but didn’t want to surrender flexibility to make additional moves by acquiring his contract.

“In analyzing it, his salary was too high based on other things they’re trying to do,” Dragic’s agent Bill Duffy tells Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Due to the change, the Heat aren’t quite sending out enough salary to make the deal work, so another outgoing piece will be required, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad.

8:42pm: Goran Dragic will become part of the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade deal with the Heat sending the point guard to the Mavericks, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. No major compensation will head from Dallas to Miami, as Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. The Mavs will technically have to send something out and it will likely be cash or a heavily-protected first-round pick.

Miami is sending Josh Richardson to the Sixers in exchange for Butler, who will ink a four-year max deal with a starting salary of approximately $32.7MM. The Heat needed to send out additional salary as part of the agreement to make up for the gap between Richardson’s salary ($10.1MM) and Butler’s new starting salary.

The move to send Dragic to the Mavs had been speculated throughout the day with salary cap guru Albert Nahmad (Twitter link) among those reading the tea leaves. Dragic will join Rookie-of-the-Year award winner Luka Doncic in Dallas’ backcourt.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southeast Division:

Justin Anderson, Hawks, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7MM deal in 2015
The Hawks can make Anderson a restricted free agent if they extend a $3.62MM qualifying offer. Anderson hasn’t given them much incentive to do so since they acquired him in an offseason trade with Philadelphia. Anderson is getting fewer minutes off the bench than ageless wonder Vince Carter, with under six minutes per game in seven March appearances. A recent report indicated that the Hawks would be aggressive in free agency. Renouncing Anderson’s rights would give them more elbow room to pursue top-tier players.

Shelvin Mack, Hornets, 28, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
It’s rare when NBA players are claimed off waivers. Mack proved to be an exception after the Grizzlies traded him to the Hawks last month, who weren’t interested in retaining his services. The Hornets were looking for some insurance behind backup Tony Parker, but Mack has been mostly a spectator. He’s appeared in just three games since the waiver claim after receiving steady minutes on Memphis’ second unit. Mack will be shopping around for a one-year minimum deal once again this offseason.

Derrick Jones Jr., Heat,, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.16MM deal in 2018
The Heat have an August 1 deadline to guarantee Jones’ $1.645MM salary for next season. Considering that Jones is a young rotation player, that would seem to be an easy decision. Jones remains a work in progress offensively but advanced metrics indicate he’s making a defensive impact. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating, according to Basketball-Reference is a solid 1.4. Jones is shooting 49% from the field, mainly due to the fact that 54% of his attempts have come within three feet of the basket. He’s averaging 21.5 MPG in March, a sign of trust from coach Erik Spoelstra.

Nikola Vucevic, Magic, 28, C (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $53MM deal in 2015
There have been conflicting reports whether Dallas will make a big push for Orlando’s big man this summer. No doubt, there will be a market for Vucevic’s services. He’s averaging career highs of 20.6 PPG and 12.2 RPG in his walk year and coach Steve Clifford adds that Vucevic essentially gives the team “two point guards” when he’s on the floor. Vucevic isn’t considered a defensive stalwart but his Defensive Box rating this season is a career-high 3.7. Vucevic won’t get a max-level offer but he’ll be making a lot more than $12.75MM next season.

Sam Dekker, Wizards, 24, SF (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $7.9MM deal in 2015
Dekker could be a restricted free agent this summer if the Wizards extend a $3.91MM qualifying offer. That’s not going to happen, as Dekker hasn’t been any better in Washington than he was in three other NBA stops. The 18th overall pick in the 2015 draft has made 33 appearances with the Wizards since he was acquired from Cleveland in early December. He’s averaging 5.9 PPG in 15.4 MPG, but shooting just 29.4% from deep and 51.6% from the foul line. Dekker’s expectations should be modest in the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pat Riley Talks 2020, Playoff Race, Draft Picks

Assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic exercise their player options for next season, the Heat won’t be in position to open up cap room this summer. The club would have over $129MM in guaranteed money on its books for 2019/20 in that scenario, well above the projected $109MM cap.

However, with the contracts for Whiteside and Dragic set to expire in 2020, Heat president Pat Riley believes his team can be a major player during free agency that offseason. Riley said as much in an interview with Heat reporter Jason Jackson (video link), as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.

“In 2020, we’ll have a lot of room,” Riley said. “We’ll also have the possibility to have enough room to go after two max contracts, and we’re going to do that. So we’re planning that 2020 will be the room year.”

The NBA’s latest salary cap projection calls for a $118MM cap for 2020/21. Currently, the Heat project to have about $71.6MM on their books for that season if James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk pick up ’20/21 player options. So Riley’s suggestion that the team will have two max slots may hinge on one or both of those players opting out.

While Riley and the Heat are eyeing that 2020 offseason as their next opportunity to make a major splash in free agency, it sounds like he’s not ruling out the possibility of pursuing upgrades this coming summer, when the club will have a mid-level exception available.

“We’re chasing a playoff spot and we’re young, and then we’re going to be chasing some players that could come in,” Riley said, per Winderman. “If we could get one or two players to come in with this group, this young group, then I think the sky’s the limit for this team in the next couple of years.”

Here’s more from Riley on the Heat, via Winderman:

  • If they continue to slump, the Heat – who currently rank 10th in our reverse standings – would be in position to snag a pretty favorable draft pick. However, Riley wants to see the squad continue pushing for one of the final playoff spots in the East. “It’s absolutely essential that they grow with experience, but not only experience with the playing time, but they get to the playoffs,” Riley said. “… I don’t care if you’re fighting for spot number eight or seven or five or three or the top spot or you’re fighting for a championship. You’ve got to be chasing something that’s positive.”
  • While Riley sounds far more interested in earning the No. 8 seed than in landing a top-10 pick in the draft, he dismissed the idea that he doesn’t value draft picks: “People think I don’t believe in draft picks. They’re so wrong. … Draft picks are very important to us.”
  • Riley suggests that Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson are the key members of the Heat’s young core going forward. However, the club president also mentioned Derrick Jones Jr., and noted that players like Dion Waiters (25), Olynyk (27), and Whiteside (28) are still fairly young.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Jones, Wade, Terry

The Heat announced on Wednesday (via Twitter) that injured guards Goran Dragic and Derrick Jones were full participants in practice and traveled with the team to Philadelphia for tonight’s game against the 76ers.

While Dragic and Jones have been cleared to return to action, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the duo may still need “a little more work” (Twitter link). Spoelstra is “not necessarily” planning on having both players return to the court in Philadelphia, he added today (Twitter link via Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel).

Whether or not Dragic and Jones earn minutes tonight, it’s great news for the Heat that both players are ready to return — Jones was originally expected to be sidelined until at least March. Still, after trading Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington at the deadline two weeks ago, Miami will once again have to sort out a crowded backcourt rotation.

Dragic and Jones will be vying for minutes with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, and Dwyane Wade. Winslow has been effective as the Heat’s de facto point guard in Dragic’s absence, and Dragic indicated that he’d be happy to play off the ball if the club wants to keep the ball in Winslow’s hands, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Over the All-Star break, Barry Jackson spoke to a pair of veteran NBA scouts who are both bearish on the Heat’s long-term outlook. “They have really screwed it up,” a Western Conference scout said. “They are in this mess by themselves, have only themselves to blame. They got deluded by one year of performance, fell much too in love with their own players. They have five bad contracts – James Johnson, (Hassan) Whiteside, Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and now Ryan Anderson. Their whole team is just a bunch of other guys. They have too many mediocre players.”
  • Appearing at his final All-Star Game in Charlotte this past weekend, Dwyane Wade noted one reason why he’s not regretting his decision to retire at season’s end, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com details. “The game is in good hands,” Wade said. “So it’s easy to walk away right now.”
  • Rookie forward Emanuel Terry was working out at the University of Miami this week as part of Team USA’s training camp when he found out that the Heat wanted to sign him to a 10-day contract, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Very last drill I did … I was walking back to my chair and (Heat assistant GM) Adam (Simon) stopped me,” said Terry, who had been prepared to participate in this week’s World Cup qualifiers. “He asked me how I was doing, I told him, ‘Well.’ I asked him how he was doing and he said, ‘We called you up.’ I couldn’t stop smiling, really for at least 10 minutes, and then I kind of told everyone, well, everyone approached me, and I kind of went on about my day.”

Heat Notes: J. Johnson, Olynyk, Jones, Ellington

James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk can expect more playing time in the wake of a knee injury that will keep Derrick Jones Jr. out of action for at least six weeks, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jones has been diagnosed with two right knee bone bruises and won’t be re-evaluated until mid-March.

“JJ will probably play a little more now,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I think he’s ready for that because of his conditioning level and rhythm. The pairing with KO and Bam [Adebayo], we’ll get back to that as well.”

Johnson and Olynyk have seen a reduction in minutes this season as Jones moved into a larger role. They are both signed through next season and have player options for 2020/21 — more than $16MM for Johnson and nearly $13.6MM for Olynyk.

There’s more from Miami, all courtesy of Jackson:

  • The silver lining to Jones’ injury is that he won’t need surgery, which Heat officials were concerned about. “It’s the best-case scenario – no surgery,” Spoelstra said. “Considering everything, it could’ve been a lot worse, and we really do think that a lot of the training he’s been doing behind the scenes, strength training with his legs – considerably stronger than he was in the past.” The 21-year-old has been a pleasant surprise in his first full season with the Heat, earning a spot in a crowded wing rotation and averaging 7.4 points per game. He has a non-guaranteed contract for next season.
  • Little-used Wayne Ellington responded with a 19-point performance when he got a chance to play in Sunday’s win over the Knicks. Spoelstra won’t commit to regular minutes for the veteran shooter, who remains a candidate to be traded to help the Heat get below the luxury tax line. Ellington and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, haven’t discussed a possible buyout if no deal can be reached, but Jackson states that several contending teams would be interested in adding Ellington if that happens.
  • A preseason plan to use Hassan Whiteside and Adebayo on the court at the same time has fallen through, with them playing just 13 minutes together so far. Adebayo’s limited shooting range has made the pairing difficult.

Knee Injury Sidelines Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr.

Heat small forward Derrick Jones Jr. will be out for an extended period after an MRI revealed two right knee bone bruises, according to a team press release. He will begin treatment immediately and be re-evaluated in six weeks, the statement adds.

That means Jones won’t even begin practicing until at least early to mid-March, so the knee bruises could be a season-ending ailment. He suffered the injury during the second quarter on Sunday at New York.

Jones had emerged as a steady presence in the Heat rotation despite a logjam at the wing positions. He posted a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds against Cleveland on Friday. Jones also reached double figures in points on nine other occasions since mid-December. For the season, he’s averaging 7.4 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 18.1 MPG over 37 games.

The undrafted Jones, 21, began his career with Phoenix during the 2016/17 campaign. Jones’ injury should open up more playing time for Wayne Ellington, who started against the Knicks, and Dion Waiters. Both have been unhappy with their minutes.

Community Shootaround: Heat Roster Logjam

As we relayed earlier today, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is “sick” to his stomach about his inability to find minutes for veteran sharpshooter Wayne Ellington. And now that fellow guard and teammate Dion Waiters is set to return from his ankle injury, don’t expect playing time decisions to get any easier for Spoelstra.

Not counting Waiters or up-and-coming youngster Derrick Jones, the Heat already have 11 players on standard NBA contracts who log 20.5 minutes per game or more, the most of anyone in the league. And of those 12 players, seven are swingmen who play primarily on the wing (Josh RichardsonRodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Ellington, and Waiters).

In tonight’s blowout win against the Cavs, Wade logged a DNP-Illness, with the remainder of the minutes on the wing going to Richardson (32), Jones (31), Winslow (27), Johnson (26), McGruder (21), and Waiters (11).

With Wade back in the mix soon and Waiters presumably playing his way into more minutes, the question becomes whether the Heat will move on from some of the aforementioned players, such as Waiters or Ellington, or keep the roster logjam as currently constructed as insurance in the event of another injury.

That brings us to our question of the day: Do you think the Heat should try to move on from some of their wings or keep them all around for the rest of the 2018/19 season? If they alter their roster, who is the most likely wing to be moved? Ellington? Waiters? Somebody else?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in. We look forward to your input.

Southeast Rumors: Bamba, Vucevic, McGruder, Melvin

Magic lottery pick Mohamed Bamba will come off the bench and have his minutes monitored, John Denton of the team’s website reports. Coach Steve Clifford doesn’t feel the 20-year-old 7-footer is ready to jump into the lineup any time soon. “I want him to play 82 (games), and he’s going to be out there and playing quality minutes,” Clifford said. “But he’s just not ready to play starter’s minutes against starting players. (A reserve role) is a big part of how you bring a player along. He’s in a role that’s ideal for him.” The unspecified minutes restriction is designed to have him “playing his best in March and April,” Clifford added.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic can be expected to do their due diligence and gauge starting center Nikola Vucevic’s trade value, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Vucevic is in his walk year and will enter unrestricted free agency in July. Vucevic doesn’t fit president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond’s desire for length and versatility, Scotto adds.
  • Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr. have been effective as starters during the first two games, which further complicates the long-range plan for the Heat’s rotation, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. With Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington currently sidelined, finding enough playing time for rotation-worthy players hasn’t been an issue, Winderman continues. When those players return, Miami will have 13 players who arguably should be in the rotation, Winderman adds.
  • Former WNBA star Chasity Melvin has been named an assistant coach with the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ G League affiliate, according to a Swarm press release. Melvin, who played 12 WNBA seasons, is the first female coach in franchise history. She was hired through the NBA Assistant Coaches Program.