Derrick Jones

Heat Notes: Roster, Haslem, ECF

Zach Lowe of ESPN tracks the Heat‘s impressive front office maneuvering that took them from the lottery in 2015 back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020, despite having traded away a number of their draft picks during that time. Lowe applauds the team’s savvy drafting of All-Star Bam Adebayo and potential future All-Star shooting specialist Tyler Herro in the 2017 and 2019 drafts, respectively.

“The doubt was whether [Adebayo] could really do much on offense,” said Heat senior adviser of basketball operations Chet Kammerer. “I just felt like, with his love for the game and his work ethic, he’s going to be OK in that area.”

The Heat also hit on three undrafted free agent role players in point guard Kendrick Nunn this season, shooting guard Duncan Robinson last year, and forward Derrick Jones Jr. in 2017 after a brief stint with the Suns. Miami was apparently one of two contenders for Dorian Finney-Smith after the 2016 draft, but lost out to the Mavericks.

Of course, All-Star Jimmy Butler was the key addition this offseason. During the 2016/17 “Three Alphas” Bulls season – when Dwyane Wade teamed up with Butler and Rajon Rondo in Chicago – Wade and Butler discussed just how special the much-ballyhooed “Heat culture” really was. That conversation apparently set the stage for Butler prioritizing the Heat above all other suitors in free agency during the summer of 2019, despite Miami lacking any room to sign a maximum-salaried free agent. Miami made a four-team sign-and-trade for the team’s now-top star.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • The Heat’s playoff-ready roster, comprised by acquiring key under-regarded prospects and never fully bottoming out, is also examined by HoopsHype’s Frank Urbina in another quality piece.
  • 17-season Heat lifer Udonis Haslem, a crucial role player for each of Miami’s three titles, remains noncommittal on whether or not 2019/20 will prove to be his final season as a player, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “There is a value and a need for me here,” Haslem said. “It doesn’t have to be the way that everybody thinks it should be. If I have to put on a suit and stand on the sideline, just because everybody else thinks I should. I found value in this locker room, and I’ve been able to move the needle and help us win games, and that’s what it’s all about.”
  • Ahead of the first game of the Heat’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Celtics, we asked you who you expected to advance to the NBA Finals from Eastern Conference. As of this writing, the third-seeded Celtics have received 54% of over 1,300 votes.

Cavs Rumors: Avdija, Toppin, Thompson, More

Maccabi Tel Aviv forward Deni Avdija, who won the Israeli League’s MVP award this year, should be considered one of the leading candidates to be drafted by the Cavaliers at No. 5 overall, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

As Fedor explains, the Cavaliers have done “extensive work” on Avdija, who fits the team’s culture both on and off the court. General manager Koby Altman, director of scouting Brandon Weems, and assistant GM Mike Gansey all made trips overseas to see him play prior to the season shutting down, while head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has reached out to former players Omri Casspi, Tyler Dorsey and Tarik Black for intel on their Maccabi Tel Aviv teammate, writes Fedor.

It’s possible that Avdija will be gone by the time the Cavs are on the clock — sources tell Fedor that the previous Bulls regime “loved” the Israeli forward and probably would’ve taken him at No. 4, though it’s unclear if the new decision-makers in Chicago are as high on him.

The Cavaliers also like Isaac Okoro and Devin Vassell, so if all three wings are still on the board at No. 5, it won’t be an easy decision, according to Fedor, who adds that forward Obi Toppin is “very much in play” at that spot as well.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs:

  • There’s no specific mandate from team owner Dan Gilbert for the Cavs to stay out of the tax going forward, but the team would prefer to do so and that will play a role in roster decisions, according to Fedor. Long-term financial considerations may also dissuade the team from taking on an exorbitant multiyear contract such as Tobias Harris‘ or Al Horford‘s in any trade, Fedor adds.
  • Given the money already on the Cavs’ books for 2020/21, the team is unlikely to re-sign Tristan Thompson and use the full mid-level exception this offseason, according to Fedor in a separate story. Cleveland may have to choose one path or the other, per Fedor, who thinks the team should prioritize Thompson.
  • One source estimated to Fedor that the odds of Thompson returning are 50-50. “I believe there’s a chance of him re-signing in free agency,” another source close to Thompson told Cleveland.com. “He hasn’t necessarily played his final game there.”
  • If Thompson departs and the Cavs do look to use their MLE, Derrick Jones and Pat Connaughton are among the free agents they may target, Fedor writes.

Heat Notes: Closers, Butler-Dragic, Benched Players, Injuries

The Heat have found playoff success thus far with a closing lineup comprising Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Bam Adebayo, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. This closing lineup resolved the last 7:57 of the team’s Game 1 victory in Miami’s quarterfinals series against the Pacers (posting a +10 plus-minus), plus the final 7:45 of the Heat’s hard-fought Game 2 win (where the group finished with a +1).

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised the groups effectiveness on both sides of the ball. “Defensively, they’ve been good,” Spoelstra said. “Offensively, we’ve been able to keep it simple and get it to either Goran or Jimmy to make the plays and you trust that they’re going to get you something good, a clean look.”

There’s more from South Beach:

  • A key duo within the Heat’s closing lineup, guards Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler, have benefited from their playing minutes together being expanded from 14 MPG to 22.5 MPG in the postseason, according to Manny Navarro of The Athletic. Butler and Dragic have become a very effective dynamic duo for Miami. “One of my all-time favorite teammates,” Butler said. “We just connect.”
  • Heat power forward Meyers Leonard and rookie point guard Kendrick Nunn both have yet to crack Miami’s postseason rotation, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel details. Nunn started for the Heat all season. Though frustrated about the benching, Leonard voiced optimism that both he and Nunn would see action soon. “[S]taying ready is important, so when I get my opportunity I’ll be prepared,” Leonard said. “There’s going to be a moment that we need Kendrick Nunn, make no mistake.”
  • Heat forwards Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. have both been listed as questionable to play in Game 3 of their series against the Pacers on Saturday due to ankle injuries, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Pierce, Jones, Wizards

Addressing the Hornets‘ upcoming offseason in a recent conversation with Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak reiterated many of the points he has made before about his team’s priorities. According to Kupchak, the Hornets won’t be a major player in free agency this fall and won’t be drafting for positional need with their lottery pick.

“We have some nice pieces that we like, but to compete in this league at a high level, our talent level isn’t where we need it to be,” Kupchak told Bonnell, referring to the Hornets’ need to draft for talent over fit. “I don’t feel we have the luxury of being able to, at this point, pick-and-choose the position (of greatest need).”

While Kupchak acknowledged that the Hornets should have a chunk of cap room available this offseason, he stressed that he doesn’t feel as if free agency “is the answer for us at this time,” hinting that the club could instead use its cap space on the trade market.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about a number of subjects, including his hope that Atlanta will improve its depth this offseason by adding veterans who can help the club on and off the court. “We have to add some veterans, rotational, professional depth, and experience to complement our young guys,” Pierce said. “We have nine guys, I believe under contract right now, so we have roster spots to fill.”
  • Just four days after sustaining a scary-looking neck injury, Heat wing Derrick Jones was cleared to return to action today, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Jones has been part of Miami’s rotation during this afternoon’s game against Indiana.
  • Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the group that owns the Wizards, is indefinitely furloughing 232 full-time employees due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports Scott Allen of The Washington Post. The furloughs affect over a third of approximately 600 full-time employees that work for the company in departments such as sales, marketing, game day operations, and community relations, Allen adds.
  • The Wizards are parting ways with four performance and medical staffers, including head athletic trainer Jeff Bangs, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Derrick Jones Jr. Talks Neck Injury After Scary Collision

Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. seems to have avoided a more serious injury despite suffering a neck strain against the Pacers on Friday night.

Jones had to be placed on a stretcher and taken off the court after colliding with Indiana’s Goga Bitadze during a hard screen.  The 23-year-old lay flat on his stomach with limited movement on the hardwood for several minutes before being stretchered off.

“Just a little sore,” Jones told reporters on Saturday when asked how he was feeling after the injury, per the Heat (Twitter link). “All in all I’m doing a lot better… we’re going day by day right now.”

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra also indicated that Jones dodged a more serious injury after an MRI, CT scan, and concussion test revealed a neck strain.

“Thank goodness he has what he has today,” Spoelstra said, per Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel (Twitter link).

Jones indicated that he is hopeful to play in Miami’s first-round playoff series against the Pacers.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Brown, Bryant, Bertans, Jones

Jimmy Butler is optimistic that Heat president Pat Riley will lure a quality free agent or two to complete their championship puzzle, he said in an ESPN interview (hat tip to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel). “I think it’ll happen,” Butler said. “Only time will tell. I’m telling you, the organization is really good at getting what they want to win a championship. … And I think, a little Miami sunshine never hurt anybody.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Though the Wizards went 1-7 at the Orlando campus, Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant showed significant growth, according to Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. Brown, the team’s 2018 first-rounder, averaged 15.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 5.0 APG in the last seven seeding games, while Bryant posting averages of 19.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in the same span.
  • Forward Davis Bertans’ free agent status, coach Scott Brooks’ status, and the team’s lottery selection are the biggest offseason issues for the Wizards, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington opines. Bertans sat out the restart, in part to protect his health as he dives into unrestricted free agency.
  • Derrick Jones Jr. suffered a neck strain during the Heat’s final seeding game on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. Jones was taken off the court in a stretcher during the third quarter after a hard screen by Indiana’s Goga Bitadze. Jones underwent an MRI, CT scan and concussion test, so the diagnosis was a best-case scenario. He’ll be re-evaluated over the weekend.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Thompson, Dellavedova, Free Agency

The Cavaliers continue to place a high value on Kevin Love and won’t deal him cheaply just to get rid of his salary, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The front office doesn’t regret giving Love a $120MM extension that will last for three more seasons, Fedor adds, and they are confident his production will increase now that clashes with former coach John Beilein will no longer be a distraction.

Cleveland is hoping to move back into playoff contention in 2020/21, which will be the third year of the rebuilding process after the loss of LeBron James. The organization believes the addition of Andre Drummond at the trade deadline will help speed up the process, along with improvement from many of the young players added over the past two years. As the Cavaliers’ most accomplished and most experienced player, Love is expected to be an important part of helping the team become a winner again.

 There’s more Cavs news to pass along:
  • Re-signing center Tristan Thompson could be the team’s most important move of the offseason, Fedor adds in the same story. In addition to his on-court production, Thompson has served as a mentor to the team’s young players, particularly rookie guard Darius Garland. Fedor doesn’t anticipate a competitive market for Thompson given the expected drop in the salary cap and speculates that he might not get any offers above the mid-level exception, which will likely be in the $8-9MM range. The Cavaliers hold Bird rights on Thompson and can easily top that.
  • Cleveland also has to make a choice on whether to bring back veteran guard Matthew Dellavedova, Fedor notes in a separate piece. The 29-year-old guard lost his spot in the rotation under Beilein because of poor shooting, but took advantage of a second chance after J.B. Bickerstaff took over. Fedor says the organization still loves Dellavedova and he will likely return on a low-cost deal.
  • With the Cavaliers needing help at the wing, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic suggests four free agent possibilities: Derrick Jones Jr., Josh Jackson, Jerami Grant and Maurice Harkless.

Southeast Notes: Bryant, Hornets, Heat, Jones

Wizards big man Thomas Bryant, who previously tested positive for COVID-19, has reported to the NBA’s campus at Walt Disney World, the club announced today (via Twitter).

Bryant was part of a small group of Wizards players who didn’t initially travel with the team to Orlando last week. Gary Payton II also contracted the coronavirus, while Garrison Mathews‘ arrival was delayed due to a personal matter.

Now that he has reported to the Disney campus, Bryant will have to go through a brief quarantine period and undergo COVID-19 and physical testing before being cleared to practice with the Wizards.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The eight teams not involved in the NBA’s summer restart still aren’t permitted to conduct group workouts, but that didn’t stop Hornets players Devonte’ Graham, Miles Bridges, and Dwayne Bacon from playing 5-on-5 ball at a non-Hornets gym, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. There’s no expectation that the league will fine those players, but it’s the latest indication that those bottom eight teams are anxious for some form of league-sanctioned offseason activities, writes Bonnell.
  • Heat forward Derrick Jones contracted COVID-19 in June, but was fortunate not to significantly affected by the virus, he told reporters on Tuesday. “I never felt a symptom at all,” Jones said, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Jones also spoke about his desire to remain with Miami in free agency this fall. “I wouldn’t want to be on any other team,” he said. “I love it here.”
  • The Heat have shown interest in meeting with TCU prospect Desmond Bane, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Bane, the No. 42 player on ESPN’s big board, is one of the top shooters in the 2020 draft class, having knocked down 43.3% of his three-point attempts in four college seasons.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores what the Wizards‘ starting lineup and rotation might look like with Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans not playing this summer.

Southeast Notes: Fournier, Young, Grant, Heat

Magic swingman Evan Fournier doesn’t feel any pressure regarding his potential free agent status, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Fournier can become an unrestricted free agent if he declines his $17.15MM option. “As far as my free agency, I have no pressure at all, really, because I have my player option regardless,” he said. “So when the time comes, I’m just going to look at stuff and look at the numbers and make my decision.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • In a discussion between The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner and Sam Vecenie, Vecenie asserts that Hawks star Trae Young needs to prove he can be effective off the ball. The could be the key to Atlanta becoming a playoff team, Vecenie adds. “The next step in his evolution is going to be learning to play more with the ball out of his hands,” Vecenie wrote. “We haven’t really gotten a chance to see that a ton with Atlanta because its backup point guard position has been a black hole thus far in his career. But showcasing the ability to be effective without having to pound the ball into the ground will play a big role in how much he can translate to winning basketball.”
  • Jerian Grant has signed with the Wizards as a substitute player but the Magic retain some control over Grant beyond this season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Orlando, his former NBA team, still holds his Bird rights along with his free agent cap hold, Marks notes. The point guard spent the bulk of the season with Washington’s G League club, the Capital City Go-Go.
  • All 17 players on the Heat‘s roster, including two-way players, will make the trip to Orlando, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. “We’re bringing all 17 guys for a reason, because we think everyone is healthy and ready,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We think our depth is going to be one of our biggest strengths.” Forward Derrick Jones Jr., the only known Heat player to have tested positive for COVID-19, is in quarantine but doing Zoom workouts at home.

Eastern Notes: Broekhoff, Young, Heat, Celtics

Ryan Broekhoff gives the Sixers an extra shooter at their disposal, Derek Bodner of The Athletic notes. Philadelphia reached an agreement with Broekhoff to fill out its roster in Orlando. Broekhoff averaged 40.3% on 3-point attempts while playing for the Mavericks, who waived him in February. However, Broekhoff’s one-dimensional game and defensive limitations make it unlikely he will play significant minutes, Bodner adds.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Hawks star guard Trae Young will sign with Klutch Sports, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Young was previously represented by Octagon. Omar Wilkes, who has been Young’s agent since the guard entered the league in 2018, recently left Octagon to become Klutch Sports’ head of basketball operations, Haynes notes. Young is eligible to sign a rookie scale extension after next season.
  • The Heat have closed their practice facility for player workouts until at least Monday in the aftermath of Derrick Jones Jr.‘s positive COVID-19 test, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Jones, whose positive test was revealed on Thursday, is eventually expected to rejoin the team for the league’s restart in Orlando. A Heat staff member has also tested positive, Jackson adds in a separate tweet.
  • The Celtics will not renew the contract of advance scout Gary Schmidt, Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald tweets. Schmidt had scouted for Boston since the 2014/15 season.