Dion Waiters

Heat Notes: Waiters, Whiteside, Adebayo

The Heat haven’t publicly expressed an interest in bringing Dion Waiters off the bench but that hasn’t deterred the 26-year-old from advocating for his role as a starter anyway. Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post writes that Waiters views himself as a starter in the NBA.

I’m a starter in this league, man, that’s who I am. We’re going to nip that in the bud right now. I’m not coming off no bench,” the guard said.

Waiters argues that he’s never enjoyed a reserve role and only reluctantly accepted it during previous stops in his career. Over the course of his six-year-career, Waiters has started nearly half of his games in the NBA.

There’s more out of Miami this morning:

  • The Heat are in a holding pattern with Hassan Whiteside‘s knee injury, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. “There is no time table, let’s make no assumptions about that,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s doing a lot better. He’s been working out two, sometimes three times a day.”
  • A lingering tendon injury in his shooting elbow continues to plague Dion Waiters. As a result, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes, he’ll experiment with a shooting sleeve for the first time in his career.
  • The Heat like what they see in Bam Adebayo but aren’t about to hastily ship Hassan Whiteside out of town to facilitate his long-term development. Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel discusses the two big men in a question-and-answer feature with readers.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Adebayo, Winslow, Roster, Deadline

Dion Waiters has shown improvements to his game but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra wants to see his guard take further steps to improve his all-around game, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

“I really like the progress he’s making,” Spoelstra said of Waiters. “I know his shooting numbers aren’t showing it right now, not necessarily his turnovers. I think those will come down. I think his shooting percentage will come up because he’s starting to understand different reads, different coverages, the responsibility of having to make plays for our basketball team.”

Waiters, 25, is enjoying another solid season in Miami after he enjoyed a breakout campaign last season. Waiters signed a four-year, $52MM deal to remain with the Heat. While the improvements are noticeable, Spoelstra added that Waiters needs to maintain his focus throughout each game and not lose focus.

“Now, the other side of that is helping him improve all the other 45 minutes of the game offensively, which he is coming a long way,” Spoelstra said.

Below you can read more news out of the Miami Heat organization:

  • In his Ask Ira column, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel addressed the Heat’s decision to start both Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow. While neither man is a scoring threat, Spoelstra prefers to replace injured players with “someone who least impacts the overall rotation.” Thus, it allows the Heat to start with one lineup and gradually mix in other players throughout the game.
  • In another installment of Ask Ira, Winderman breaks down the Heat roster and examines why it has been difficult for the team to achieve consistency.
  • December 15 will be the first day teams can trade players who were signed during this past offseason. While the Heat have not made a December trade in their 30+ years of existence, Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel breaks down the likelihood of Miami swinging a deal and which players could be on the trading block.

Atlantic Notes: Waiters, Knicks, Casey, Whitehead

When Dion Waiters reached the open market back in July, the Knicks were cited as a potential suitor for him, though the free agent guard ultimately agreed to a long-term deal to return to the Heat. With the Heat and Knicks squaring off on Wednesday night for the first time this season, Waiters revisited his time as a free agent, confirming that New York did have have interest in him and made him an offer.

“They were talking, they were trying,” Waiters said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “My agent was talking to [the Knicks] more than I was.”

Waiters acknowledged that the appeal of playing in New York City and the proximity to his hometown (Philadelphia) and college (Syracuse) had him intrigued by the possibility of playing for the Knicks. However, his preference was always to stick with the Heat if that was viable. “Other teams figured that’s how it was going to be,” Waiters added.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • After a year of stability in the head coaching ranks, two coaches have already been fired this season and others are finding themselves on the hot seat. However, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, whose job security has looked shaky at times in the past, seems pretty safe right now, says Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.
  • Brian Lewis of The New York Post takes a closer look at the development of second-year guard Isaiah Whitehead, who has frequently bounced back and forth this season between the Nets and their G League affiliate. If Whitehead can cut down on his turnovers, he should continue to see more time in Brooklyn than in Long Island, writes Lewis.
  • Speaking of the G League, the Sixers‘ affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, will be getting a brand new home for the 2018/19 season. Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia has the details on the 76ers Fieldhouse, the multi-purpose sports complex in Wilmington, Delaware which will hold about 2,500 fans for G League games.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Gobert, Mitchell, Hood

Derrick Favors feels comfortable moving into the starting center spot for the Jazz with Rudy Gobert sidelined, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News reports. Favors did the same thing for 18 games two seasons ago when Gobert was injured and once again during last season’s playoffs, Sorensen notes. Favors piled up 24 points and 12 rebounds against the Nets Saturday. Gobert is expected to miss at least a month of action due to a tibia contusion. “It’s the same as last year, same as the year before that when Rudy went down and I had to move to the five spot,” Favors told Sorensen. “Even before that, I was starting at the five, so I’m ready for it.” Favors, who is in his walk year, can boost his stock in free agency if he plays well in Gobert’s absence.

In other developments involving the Jazz:

  • The Jazz contacted the league office regarding the play in which Gobert was injured but no action was taken, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Heat guard Dion Waiters dove to the floor while chasing a loose ball and rolled toward Gobert body, causing the injury. The league told the Jazz that a foul against Waiters should’ve been called but it was deemed not intentional, Jones adds.
  • Donovan Mitchell‘s competitive drive has made him one of this year’s draft-day steals, Brian Lewis of the New York Post opines. The combo guard, taken with the No. 13 overall pick, scored a game-high 26 points against the Nets. “His competitive spirit is something you can’t teach,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder told Lewis and other media members. “There’s certain things you can’t teach. You can try to train them and improve them, but that’s been there from the first day.”
  • Shooting guard Rodney Hood has lost his starting job to Mitchell but he’s handling it well, as Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News relays. Hood still leads the team in scoring and accepts his new role as the top option on the second unit. “Just being a professional and not taking a step back and don’t think nothing less of myself,” Hood told Woodyard. “I know I can play with the best of them, regardless of when I’m getting in I’ve got to put in work so that’s how I approach it.”

Southeast Notes: Batum, Magic, Wade

With a full scrimmage under his belt, Hornets swingman Nicolas Batum is expected to make his 2017/18 debut on Wednesday, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. Batum tore a ligament in his left elbow back on October 4.

One of the biggest impacts that Batum will have on the team is with his ball movement, as he posted 5.9 assists in addition to his 15.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game for the Hornets last season.

I bet he got an assist to everybody he played with today. There were a couple of times when he hit me wide-open and I wasn’t expecting the ball,” Hornets forward Marvin Williams said after the practice.

The club will get an even better idea of how ready Batum is to return to in-game action when they ramp things up at the Hornets’ practice on Monday.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • While he’s sure to clarify that the Magic don’t boast the same caliber of elite level talent that the Warriors have, John Denton of the team’s official site writes that Orlando has played rather Golden State-ish so far this season. The Magic have benefited from the same pace-and-space tactics that the historically dominant reigning champion Warriors have for the past several seasons.
  • The recent Eric Bledsoe trade has Heat beat writer Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel reexamining how the Goran Dragic deal holds up two years later. Like Bledsoe, Dragic was a quality Suns point guard that didn’t fit the team’s timeline at the time of the trade. Phoenix has yet to cash in on their spoils from that deal, Winderman writes. The Suns will collect Miami’s first-round pick in June (with some protections) and an unprotected first in 2021.
  • If Dion Waiters plays in 70 games for the Heat this season, he’ll earn an additional $1.1MM, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. That doesn’t mean the veteran will risk his health, however. “At the end of the day,” Waiters said, “If it’s something serious, I’m not going to put myself in harm’s way. I’m going to sit out. My body is more important.

Heat Notes: Culture, Whiteside, Waiters

A lack of communication may be behind Miami’s sub-par start this season. As Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes, the Heat hashed things out in real, raw terms Sunday morning and seem to be in better spirits as a result of it.

We had our discussions this morning,” forward James Johnson said. “We aired it out this morning. A lot of people took heat. I think it was the best thing for us to do, even more important than film. That’s what this culture is about, that’s what we’re about — staring guys in the eyes, telling guys the truth and that’s how you show you really love somebody.”

The Heat started famously bad last season before rallying from an 11-30 start to compete for an Eastern Conference playoff berth. That comeback was built largely on the culture that Johnson refers to.

There’s more out of Miami this weekend:

  • Dion Waiters will still get an opportunity to be a closer for the Heat, despite the fact that he struggled mightily against the Celtics this weekend. Head coach Erik Spoesltra told the Sun Sentinel that, despite a lingering ankle issue that occasionally appears to impede him, Waiters will continue to be fully in the mix heading forward.
  • The Heat have been without Hassan Whiteside since their season opener. Point guard Goran Dragic considers the 28-year-old center to be the heart of the team, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. The big man has missed four games with a bone bruise on his knee.
  • The Heat haven’t started their campaign how they would have liked to and emotions are starting to ramp up. “I love all the emotions that players go through,” head coach Erik Spoelstra told the media, including the Sun Sentinel. “I don’t even care if it boils over. It means you care.”

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Richardson, Mickey

The Heat handed Kelly Olynyk a four-year, $46MM contract this offseason and one rival Eastern Conference GM is not impressed with the transaction, as he tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“Not a huge fan of Olynyk and think they overpaid by about 20 percent. I have no idea why he got a player option. But basketball wise he’s a good fit,” the anonymous GM told Jackson.

Olynyk’s contract contains a player option worth slightly over $12.2MM for the 2020/21 season. That same GM also offered his opinion on Jordan Mickey, whom the team signed to a two-year contract in August. “End of the bench NBA player [that] can play for 8-10 years in the right system as a shotblocker, rebounder, energy guy,” he said.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Josh Richardson, who inked a four-year, $42MM extension with the Heat this offseason, may have been able to land a larger contract had he held off on signing until he reached the free agent market. However, the 2015 No. 40 overall pick is happy with the deal he signed, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel relays. “Let’s be real, $42 million is a lot of money,” Richardson said. “So I can live on that forever. I don’t really worry about what everybody else is doing. I don’t like comparing myself to other people. So when they came to it, it was kind of like a no-brainer.”
  • Hassan Whiteside injured his knee on opening night and the big man’s absence has forced Mickey to take on a starting role. The 6’8″ big man has mostly played the four during his time in the league, but he has no issue playing center when needed for the Heat, as Winderman passes along in a separate piece. “I feel comfortable at whatever position he puts me at, whether he needs me to guard the bigs on the court or guard one of the smaller guys on the court,” Mickey said. “That’s where the NBA is going now, bigger guys guarding small guys. So you’ve got to continue to grow with the game.”
  • The Heat don’t have many scoring options on the wing, making Dion Waiters‘ recovery from an ankle injury even more crucial, Winderman contends in a recent mailbag. Waiters suffered the injury last season and hasn’t been able to suit up yet as a result of it.

Heat Rumors: Hammons, Liggins, Olynyk, Waiters

Rodney McGruder‘s injury could force the Heat to address the imbalanced roster, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. McGruder is out 3-6 months with a stress fracture in his leg, swinging the door open for Miami to keep or add another wing player, Jackson continues. The bottom of the roster is filled with power forwards and centers — Bam Adebayo, Udonis Haslem, Jordan Mickey and A.J. Hammons — and the Heat may have to waive Hammons and his guaranteed two-year contract to fortify the wing positions. Miami could keep either DeAndre Liggins or Matt Williams Jr. from its training-camp roster to fill the void, Jackson adds.

In other developments concerning the Heat:

  • Kelly Olynyk has made a strong case to be the starting power forward, even though James Johnson came into camp as the favorite to win the job, Jackson reports in another story. Olynyk has meshed well with center Hassan Whiteside in preseason action, which is making the decision tougher for coach Erik Spoelstra, Jackson continues. “Their skill sets really complement each other,” Spoelstra told Jackson and other media members. “Kelly does a lot of things very similar to JJ in his own personality, in his own way. We think it fits. We think it works whether he comes off the bench or not, I like the dynamic.”
  • Dion Waiters had to wait out the Gordon Hayward free agent saga before the Heat committed to him with a four-year, $52MM contract, Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni notes during an in-depth feature on Waiters. A confident Waiters opted out of his deal this summer and the gamble ultimately paid off when Miami lost the Hayward sweepstakes and instead spent a chunk of their free-agent money on Waiters. “He likes to say he bet on himself, but he also bet on the organization,” Spoelstra told Nadkarni. “We bet on him as well. We’re not only about reclamation projects. We wanted to develop a relationship that would last longer than a year.”

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Hawks, Meeks

When Dion Waiters hurt himself last March he had the option to pursue a surgical treatment that would have sidelined him for eight to 10 months, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes. The Heat guard, and at that point pending free agent, opted against going under the knife to repair his ankle and instead has been strengthening it and undergoing treatment.

Winderman stresses that Waiters only brought up the injury when asked at the Heat’s media day on Wednesday but admitted that some days are better than others.

I’ll get four or five treatments every day,” Waiters, who re-signed with the Heat this summer, said. “Some days you’re going to feel great, some days it might be just one of them days. You have to push through it and be smart about the whole situation.

In 46 games with the Heat last season, Waiters averaged 15.8 points per game. This year his contract will pay an additional $1.1MM if the guard stays on the court for 70 games, one of several incentives built into contracts that Miami extended this offseason.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • On the verge of what could be his first full season since 2014/15, Wizards guard Jodie Meeks is eager to show that he can still contribute to an NBA team. “Just because I want to show that I’m healthy,” Meeks told Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. “I’m not old and washed up or whatever you want to call it.
  • A hamstring injury will sideline Hornets forward Treveon Graham, the team’s PR department tweets. Graham is one of five players on non-guaranteed deals hoping to make the team’s opening day roster.
  • The Hawks will receive $100K for taking DeAndre Liggins‘ deal off of the Clippers’ hands, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. We wrote about the September 25 deal here.

Southeast Notes: Incentives, Gortat, Kidd-Gilchrist

The Heat found a creative way to pad the contracts of their offseason signees, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes, by loading the deals with impressive bonuses and incentives. Dion Waiters, for example, can net over $1M in addition to his traditional $11M deal by simply appearing in 70 or more games this season.

While Waiters only appeared in 46 contests last year, thereby making this an “unlikely” incentive, he played in 70-plus in each of the four seasons prior to 2016/17. Other sorts of bonuses offered include one that would reward Kelly Olynyk should the Heat make the playoffs and another that would sweeten James Johnson‘s deal provided he meets certain body-fat measurement requirements.

Such contractual maneuvers aren’t new for the franchise, Winderman writes, noting that the Heat employed similar tactics, tying routine weigh-ins to retired point guard Tim Hardaway‘s deals.

Incentives are officially classified as “unlikely” if the condition was not met in the previous season. Unlikely incentives do not count toward a team’s salary cap at the time of the signing but they do at the end of the season if the conditions are met. This allowed the Heat flexibility to successfully juggle their returning free agents.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards decided this offseason to stick with their plan of gradually developing their young core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. While they may have been able to skip the line in the East by going out and acquiring an additional star, the Wizards’ patience could pay off in the long run.
  • A healthy Ian Mahinmi will eat into Marcin Gortat‘s role with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. At the end of last season, Gortat expressed doubt about his future in Washington, though he said last month that he’s fully committed to the franchise.
  • Without being asked, head coach Steve Clifford has reiterated that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start at small forward for the Hornets, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes. Concern over the 23-year-old’s offense has some wondering if he may be better suited for a reserve role.
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