Dion Waiters

Heat Notes: J. Johnson, Weber, Newman, Lee

Despite rumors that he’s on the trade market, the Heat aren’t shopping forward James Johnson, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The team expects Johnson’s productivity to increase after offseason surgery to fix a sports hernia, which involves damage to soft tissue in the groin area. Johnson dealt with the injury through much of last season.

“It’s something that he played through last year and it affected him for sure,” said his agent, Mark Bartelstein. “They don’t come any tougher than James. His pain threshold is unlike anyone I’ve seen.”

Johnson posted a 10.9/4.8/3.9 line last season while providing the defense and versatility that he’s known for. He still has two seasons and about $30MM left on his contract, along with a $16MM player option for 20/21.

There’s more news from Miami to pass along, all courtesy of Jackson:

  • The Heat know what they’re getting from Briante Weber, who reached a partially guaranteed agreement with the team earlier this week. He got into one game for Miami in 2015/16, but has played extensively for the organization’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls. Weber is an excellent defender who struggles with his outside shot and has been prone to turnovers. He had brief stays with the Rockets and Grizzlies last season and has played for five NBA teams in his three-year career.
  • The Heat look for elite athletes when evaluating prospects, which is why they were drawn to former Parade All-Americans Malik Newman and Marcus Lee. Neither player was drafted, but both have raw ability that could help them succeed at the NBA level. Depending on whether Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem decide to return, Newman, Lee and Weber could all be competing for one roster opening.
  • Dion Waiters continues to work out at the Heat’s facility as part of his comeback from ankle surgery that he underwent in January. Waiters was limited to 30 games last year and has only played 76 in two seasons since coming to Miami. He has two more years and $24.75MM left on his current deal.

Analyzing A Potential Rockets-Heat Trade

The Rockets have reportedly talked to Miami as they seek another perimeter defender, and salary cap expert Albert Nahmad believes James Johnson would be a better fit in Houston than Tyler Johnson (Twitter link).

James Johnson’s .308 shooting percentage from 3-point range prevents him from being a perfect replacement for Trevor Ariza, but his physical brand of defense and his ability to guard several positions could be just what the Rockets need, Nahmad suggests. He also describes James Johnson, who averaged a career-best 12.8 and 10.8 PPG during his two seasons with Miami, as “a sneaky good offense creator in short bursts.”

ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently reported that the Rockets have reached out to several teams about adding a wing player and are willing to offer Ryan Anderson and their 2019 first-round pick to the Hawks in exchange for Kent Bazemore. He also said there have been conversations between Houston and Miami, suggesting that the same package could be available for Tyler Johnson.

Nahmad doesn’t see that as a deal the Heat would accept because they would be taking on money by adding Anderson and Houston’s draft pick isn’t likely to be high enough to make it worthwhile (Twitter link). The offer sheet that the Heat matched in 2016 for the fourth-year guard begins to balloon in the upcoming season, with a salary of $19,245,370 in each of the next two years. That’s still a little cheaper than Anderson, who has two seasons and nearly $41.7MM left on his current deal.

Houston’s offer wouldn’t be enough to get Miami to part with James Johnson either, Nahmad tweets, and the Heat would have to include something else in the deal to make salaries match because his salary is only $14.65MM. Miami would like to get rid of Dion Waiters‘ contract, which will pay him more than $36MM over the next three seasons, but the Rockets are already into luxury tax territory and aren’t likely to take on that much extra money.

Nahmad notes that the expected signings of free agent Carmelo Anthony and second-round pick De’Anthony Melton will give Houston 14 players under contract with a base salary around $135MM and another $19MM in tax payments. Clint Capela‘s new contract has $2MM in potential bonuses that could push that figure even higher (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Fournier, Adebayo, Howard

In order to improve upon their 2017/18 campaign without having made any significant changes this offseason, the Heat had better hope that Dion Waiters, who missed 52 games last season, becomes this season’s Victor Oladipo, opines Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

There are some unquestionable similarities between Oladipo and Waiters. As Winderman notes, both were traded from Oklahoma City, both were top five selections in their respective drafts, and both are now playing for their third NBA franchise.

“You can never predict anything in this league,” Riley said. “You look at what happened last year to Indiana and how good they became getting [Domantas] Sabonis and Oladipo, how they changed, how their mentality changed. They made some good additions. Very few people talk about them.”

Per Winderman, it’s that type of under-the-radar approach from Riley that has defined the Heat’s offseason thus far. Riley seemingly believes that his team is good enough to complete already.

“One thing we have going for us is we have familiarity, we have continuity,” Riley said. “There is a system that’s been intact here. (And) not having Dion Waiters play hardly at all, you’ve got to give it another shot. You can’t just keep ripping things up every year and changing your roster.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Heat Notes: Waiters, Johnson, Newman, McGruder

The Heat may use Dion Waiters as the primary backup to starting point guard Goran Dragic if Waiters’ ankle issues are behind him, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Coach Erik Spoelstra was using Waiters in a playmaking role before he was sidelined last season. Tyler Johnson isn’t suited for that role, Winderman continues, because he expends too much effort and takes too time advancing the ball. Spoelstra tends to use a variety of players who take turns handling the ball, which is why there is uncertainty about that role aside from Dragic.

In other news regarding the team:

  • Miami has made Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Waiters available in trade talks this summer but hasn’t found much of a market for the trio, two unnamed league GMs told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Heat’s best chance of falling under the luxury-tax threshold would be moving Johnson for a player making less money, Jackson adds.
  • The Heat agreed to a contract with former Kansas guard Malik Newman with the intent of making him a G League affiliate player, Winderman writes in a separate story. Those deals are limited to a $50K guarantee. The team has already filled both of its two-contract slots with Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten, while the regular roster already has five rotation options at the guard spots with the possibility of Dwyane Wade making that situation even more muddled if he’s re-signed.
  • Finding a steady role for Rodney McGruder will be a challenge for Spoelstra next season, Winderman writes in another mailbag. McGruder was a starter when Miami made its second-half run in 2016/17, Winderman notes, but a leg injury sidetracked him last season. With Josh Richardson and Waiters starting at the wing spots and Justise Winslow, Johnson and Wayne Ellington as options behind them, it’s tough to see where McGruder fits in, Winderman adds.

Heat Notes: Trade Talks, Johnson, Whiteside

The Heat have been looking to shed salary, having made Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters available in trade talks, two rival high-ranking executives tell Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to those execs, however, Miami has been unwilling to attach a future first-round pick or a young player like Justise Winslow or Josh Richardson to those highly-paid veterans. As Jackson details, the Heat’s preference would be to move a big contract like Johnson’s for a lesser-paid – and perhaps less effective player – or a draft pick.

Whiteside, Johnson, and Waiters aren’t bad players, but they’re not positive trade assets on their current contracts, which span multiple seasons and will pay them $25.4MM, 19.2MM, and $11.6MM respectively in 2018/19. As such, the Heat will likely have to adjust their expectations and their asking price if they hope to move any of those players.

Here are several more notes out of South Beach:

  • In an article for The Miami Herald, Barry Jackson explores the Heat’s options with Tyler Johnson‘s contract and notes that agent Mark Bartelstein isn’t ruling the possibility of Derrick Walton returning to the Heat. Miami withdrew Walton’s two-way qualifying offer earlier this week.
  • Heat head coach Erik Spoeltra appears committed to a fresh start with Hassan Whiteside, telling reporters this week that he has been in “constant contact” with the veteran center this summer (link via The Miami Herald). “I’m looking forward to the start of the season with a healthy Hassan. I know he’s looking forward to that,” Spoelstra said. “And we still have a good part of the summer to get better. I think Hassan having an opportunity to start off the season healthy will be a really big boost for us.”
  • The Heat remain on the lookout for under-the-radar free agents who are participating in the Las Vegas Summer League or holding individual workouts in Vegas this week, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Guys are getting two-ways during Summer League right now,” assistant GM Adam Simon said. “So those guys come off the table. So my job, our job, is to make sure we’re aware of all players that are available and then when it’s time to make decisions, then, as a group, we make those decisions.”
  • In a separate article for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman examines how the Heat will handle their logjam at shooting guard with Wayne Ellington re-signing and a Dwyane Wade return still in play.

Heat Failing To Find Trade Market For Several Players

The Heat have tried to deal both Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson this offseason but found a lack of interest in the pair of expensive veterans, sources tell Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Whiteside will make roughly $25.4MM this season before he gets to deliberate a $27.1MM player option in the summer of 2019, He’s seemed unhappy with his playing time late in the 2017/18 campaign and it’s fair to wonder whether he would be open to a buyout if the team can’t trade his enormous contract. However, even if Miami makes the center miserable by further reducing his playing time, Jackson hears that it’s unlikely Whiteside walks away from the money.

Johnson will take home $19.2MM as part of the four-year pact he signed two summers ago. The Nets had presented the shooting guard with a $50MM offer sheet during the player-friendly 2016 free agent period. The offer spread more than 75% of Johnson’s total salary over the final two years of the deal. Miami surprisingly matched at the time and they’re now facing the first of two $19MM+ salary years.

Jackson adds that Dion Waiters has also been brought up in trade talks. Waiters has three years and approximately $36MM left on his contract.

Miami has no clear path to cap space next summer without moving the aforementioned players. Top names like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Klay Thompson are expected to hit the market and the team won’t be in a position to make a patented Pat Riley free agency pitch unless it gets creative with its roster.

Heat Rumors: Whiteside, Winslow, Wade, Haslem

The Heat, one of two teams that entered Thursday’s draft without a pick in either round, explored the possibility of trading into the draft. However, team president Pat Riley told reporters late last night that the team didn’t feel it made sense to pay the asking price for a second-round selection.

“Every second-round pick cost two second-round picks or a future second-round pick and cash,” Riley said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Although the Heat didn’t make any moves on draft night, Riley said the club has engaged in a “lot of discussion with a lot of teams about a lot of players,” according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Riley also discussed several other offseason topics during his session with the media, so we’ll round up the highlights below, via Winderman:

  • According to Riley, the Heat have yet to offer Hassan Whiteside to any teams in trade talks. “I expect a lot of out Hassan, contrary to what people might think about us trading him,” Riley said. “We haven’t offered him to anybody, really, to be honest with you. So you go through an emotional period with a player and you deal with it and you come back and you work things out.” Of course, Riley’s comments could reflect a lack of a market for the veteran center.
  • Riley denied that Justise Winslow was offered in trades leading up to the draft. However, Winslow is believed to be available in the right deal.
  • Riley confirmed that the Heat will try to find a way to keep Wayne Ellington, though he acknowledged potential luxury-tax concerns, hinting that Miami likely wouldn’t be able to match an aggressive offer from another team.
  • The Heat don’t know yet whether Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem want to continue their respective careers, but they’d be welcomed back if they want to return to the Heat. “They’ve been together forever and they also deserve the respect to sit and wait on this thing. And so there’s no rush,” Riley said.
  • Given the Heat’s lack of cap room, Riley isn’t necessarily expecting an action-packed offseason for the club. “I don’t know if there are going to be any midnight meetings (at the start of free agency),” Riley said (Twitter link). “Not this year.”
  • Dion Waiters continues to recover from ankle surgery, but the Heat are hoping that he’ll be ready for training camp, says Riley.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Winslow, Dragic, Free Agents

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.

Heat Rumors: Whiteside, Waiters, Haslem, Wade

The gamble the Heat took on Hassan Whiteside two years ago has backfired, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, and they are left with the choices of keeping him and his huge cap hit or trading him for virtually nothing. Whiteside still has two seasons remaining [including a $27.1MM player option for 2019/20] on the four-year deal he signed in the summer of 2016.

The Heat are open to dealing their starting center, but Bontemps warns they may not like the offers they get. He suggests the Mavericks might be interested if they can’t land a big-name free agent, with Dwight Powell going to Miami in return. Other possibilities Bontemps sees for Whiteside are heading to New York in exchange for Joakim Noah [owed roughly $37MM over the next two years] and the Bulls’ second-rounder or to Phoenix for Brandon Knight [$29MM over two years] and Tyson Chandler‘s expiring $13.6MM deal.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are counting on Dion Waiters to solidify the shooting guard position once he returns from ankle surgery, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters was limited to just 30 games before the January operation, and doctors aren’t sure if he will be ready for training camp or the start of the season. “I don’t think he’s felt right, physically, since when he first got here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He got in great shape, but once he injured his ankle, then he was always dealing with that. This is going to be a really important summer for him. He’s going to be here and he’ll be working a ton behind the scenes just to get his legs right, then he’ll work on the next step of getting in world-class shape and then he’ll get into the next phase of really developing his basketball skills.”
  • Veteran forward Udonis Haslem isn’t sure whether Dwyane Wade will return for another season, adding he “wouldn’t be surprised” no matter what Wade decides, Jackson relays in the same story. Haslem hasn’t made a decision on his own future, but said he would like to work in the Heat organization when he retires, although not as a coach. He added that he and Wade haven’t discussed a mutual decision. “We’ve both in situations where we have a lot of different opportunities ahead of us,” Haslem said. “Do we want to retire together? In a perfect world it would be great to finish it together. But things don’t always work out like that.”
  • After playing just 16 postseason minutes, Rodney McGruder wants a larger role next year, Jackson adds. McGruder had surgery on his leg in October and appeared in 16 regular season games after he returned in February. “I want to play,” he said. “I am happy for my teammates. I love cheering them on. I want to be playing in the playoffs.”

Heat Granted Disabled Player Exception

As expected, the Heat have been granted a disabled player exception that could be used to replace injured guard Dion Waiters, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The exception will be worth $5.5MM, half of Waiters’ salary.

The Heat applied for that disabled player exception in advance of the January 15 deadline, though Waiters didn’t undergo his season-ending ankle surgery until a few days later. The NBA’s decision on the DPE was a little delayed because an independent physician had to determine that Waiters is more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15.

With their new $5.5MM exception, the Heat will be able to sign a player to a rest-of-season contract or acquire a player in the final year of his contract via trade or waiver claim. The club will have until March 12 to use the DPE, so the trade market and buyout market could both be options.

Earlier today, we identified the NBA teams that have been awarded disabled player exceptions this season after losing players to season-ending injuries. The Pistons are the only club still believed to be waiting on DPE approval, having applied for one once Jon Leuer was ruled out for the season.