Dion Waiters

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.

Heat Notes: Johnson, McGruder, Waiters, Johnson

The Heat have had to use countless different lineup combinations throughout the season as players have come and gone due to injuries, but recently it has been Tyler Johnson that has become a key staple in the starting lineup.

As Ira Winderman writes for The Sun-Sentinal, Johnson has provided an energetic approach that has made him a perfect fit for the starting lineup, especially as Erik Spoelstra continues to look for ways to jumpstart his team.

The Heat have made several significant changes in the wake of Goran Dragic‘s injury, most notably converting Justise Winslow to being the team’s primary ball-handler and creator.

There’s more from the Heat:

Heat Notes: Waiters, Haslem, Ellington

The Heat have hit Dion Waiters with a fine after he publicly griped about his playing time earlier in the week, suggesting he was tired of being “patient” as he waited for an increased role. Miami didn’t disclose how much the fine for Waiters was worth, but said it was for conduct detrimental to the team, as David Furones of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

Head coach Erik Spoelstra addressed the issue today, telling reporters that dropping expletives and complaining to the media about his playing time won’t earn Waiters more minutes (Twitter link via Furones).

“I think it’s important for him to realize: Our team is much different than when he left last year, and while his teammates are really here to support him, nobody is volunteering their rotation minutes to him. It’ll have to be earned just like everybody else,” Spoelstra said, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “These concepts of patience and surrendering to the team, whether we want to put expletives in front of it or behind it, those are going to be very important concepts for him to embrace, and I think he will.”

Here’s more on Waiters and the Heat:

  • According to Jackson, Waiters said today that he’s glad he let his frustration out, but he should have expressed it differently. “I was frustrated,” Waiters said. “I want to play. I want to speed this process up a little bit. I don’t mean no harm to nobody. I’m not perfect nor do I try to be. I just want to play the game I love that I missed for a year.” Waiters added that he “absolutely” wants to remain with the Heat.
  • Multiple teammates, including Udonis Haslem, spoke to Waiters – both privately and during a team meeting on Wednesday – about channeling his frustration in more productive ways, writes Jackson. “We don’t have any bad apples on our team,” Haslem said. “We understand Dion’s comments, while not the right thing to do, are coming from a good place.”
  • Waiters isn’t the only Heat player frustrated by his role. In a separate article for The Miami Herald, Jackson reports that Wayne Ellington‘s agent has had conversations with Heat officials about his client’s limited role and his future with the club. According to Jackson, the team stressed that it values Ellington and is aware he’d like to play more, but no promises were made.

Dion Waiters Unhappy With Playing Time

After missing more than a full year due to an ankle injury, Dion Waiters has recently returned to the Heat‘s rotation, with the team easing him back into a regular role. However, after playing just 12 minutes in a blowout loss to to the Bucks on Tuesday night, Waiters expressed frustration with his limited playing time, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.

“F— patience!” Waiters said. “I want to play. I’ve been patient long enough. What do I got to be patient for? Come on man. I’ve been patient. I think everybody knows that. It’s time. What are we waiting for? If I’m out there, play me.”

According to Jackson, head coach Erik Spoelstra has said repeatedly that Waiters needs to be patient because he’s coming off a major injury and the Heat already have an over-crowded rotation. The 27-year-old has been available for seven games since returning to action earlier this month, but has appeared in only five, and averaged just 15.4 minutes in those contests, which would easily be a career low.

Waiters said after Tuesday’s game that his patience “has run out,” and that the “next step is being back in the starting lineup,” per Jackson. In his first two seasons with the Heat, Waiters started 73 of the 76 games he played, but he has come off the bench in his five games so far in 2018/19.

Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Rodney McGruder are currently in Miami’s starting lineup, and the team also has to find playing time for Derrick Jones, Dwyane Wade, and Tyler Johnson. Throw in frontcourt minutes for starters Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson and backups Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo, and it doesn’t leave much time for Waiters — or fellow shooting guard Wayne Ellington, who has fallen entirely out of the rotation. Keeping everyone happy will be even more challenging once Goran Dragic returns from his knee injury.

It will be interesting to see how the Heat, who currently hold the sixth seed in the East, manage their logjam in the coming weeks. Making a trade or two before the February 7 deadline might be in the best interests of both the club and its players.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, McGruder, Bamba, Briscoe

Even if the Wizards are granted an $8.6MM disabled player exception, they’re more likely to sign players to 10-day contracts than use that exception, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington applied for the exception due to John Wall‘s season-ending heel surgery.

The Wizards’ cap issues make it unlikely they’d find a free agent enticing enough to sign for the remainder of the season by using a portion of the exception. The Wizards inked point guard Ramon Sessions to a pair of 10-day contracts last season before signing him for the rest of the season, Hughes notes.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Shooting guard Rodney McGruder could lose his rotation spot if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to expand Tyler Johnson‘s minutes, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. In that instance, Dion Waiters would start ahead of McGruder and Johnson would receive second unit minutes. Waiters returned from ankle surgery three games ago. McGruder has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of the last four games.
  • An MRI on rookie center Mohamed Bamba‘s sore foot showed no structural damage, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Magic coach Steve Clifford said Bamba is unlikely to play this weekend, Robbins adds. The sixth overall pick sat out against Utah on Wednesday.
  • Clifford is inclined to keep rookie Isaiah Briscoe in the Magic’s rotation as the backup point guard, Robbins reports in another tweet. Briscoe has averaged 17.5 MPG in the last two games, contributing 5.5 PPG and 3.5 APG. The undrafted Kentucky product has displaced Jerian Grant, who had been backing up D.J. Augustin. Briscoe’s salary is non-guaranteed after this season, while Grant could be an unrestricted free agent if the club doesn’t extend a $3.76MM qualifying offer.

Heat Notes: Bosh, Wade, Trade Candidates, Butler

Chris Bosh hasn’t officially announced his retirement, but Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes that he appears to be settling into life after basketball, which includes a connection to the Heat. In addition to being at courtside for the team’s past three home games, Bosh is doing some behind-the-scenes work, offering advice to team president Pat Riley and talking to players in the locker room.

It’s a significant step considering the terms under which Bosh left the organization. He had hoped to resume his playing career after being diagnosed with blood clots, but couldn’t get medical clearance from the team. He failed a physical prior to the 2016/17 season and was waived after that season ended. The Heat are paying him $26.8MM this year, although that figure doesn’t count against their salary cap.

“Chris was going through a lot,” Dwyane Wade said. “He was somebody who was one of the best players in the world, and he had a diagnosis that comes that no one is familiar with, really. It’s just a tough situation. You got a player who was 32 at the time, something like that, and the way the game is going, can play for a long time. It’s just unfortunate. So yeah, of course it’s going to take a lot of hardship to get out of that situation and get to where everybody is now. But the bigger picture, he needs to and should be a part of this organization. I’m glad to see him around.”
There’s more news from Miami:
  • The first returns in the All-Star voting show how much love there is around the league for Wade, notes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Despite being in a reserve role in his final NBA season, Wade ranked second among Eastern Conference guards with more than 409K votes. “I just appreciate and am humbled by people taking the time out to want to see my old self in an All-Star Game, so it’s cool,” Wade said. “… I know a lot of people are saying, ‘We need to take the fans votes away,’ but they’re the ones who want to see who they want to see.”
  • The Heat will have 13 players worthy of being in the rotation once Goran Dragic returns from injury and could look at the trade deadline as a chance to thin out their roster, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Wayne Ellington has already fallen far out of the rotation and more players could join him with Dragic’s projected return around the All-Star break. Winderman sees James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk as trade candidates, with Ellington included as a throw-in.
  • The latest controversy over Jimmy Butler in Philadelphia doesn’t mean things would have worked out the same way if he had been traded to Miami, Winderman states in a question-and-answer column. He notes that Butler would have been the unquestioned top star with the Heat and the focus of the offense.

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.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Ellington, Richardson, Wade

Dion Waiters is getting closer to making his season debut after having ankle surgery 12 months ago. The Heat tweeted this afternoon that Waiters will travel to Cleveland with the team and is listed as questionable for tomorrow night’s game.

Waiters spent the weekend practicing with Miami’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls and told Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel that he’s ready to play.

“It felt great. I feel great,” he said. “If you ask those guys out there, I don’t think I missed a shot, a lot of deep shots, too, a lot of attacking and making plays for other guys.”

The trip to Sioux Falls gave Waiters a chance to scrimmage against NBA veterans DeAndre Liggins, Briante Weber and Jarnell Stokes as he prepares for his first game action since December 22, 2017. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he received encouraging reports about Waiters’ performance.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • Waiters’ return will add to an already crowded backcourt and could provide more incentive to trade Wayne Ellington, Winderman suggests in a question-and-answer column. The 3-point specialist is playing just 22.7 minutes per night, his lowest total since coming to Miami, and could have more value as a trade chip than at the end of the rotation. Because he re-signed with the Heat over the summer on a one-year contract, Ellington has the power to veto any trade, but Winderman believes he would be willing to accept a deal that promises more playing time.
  • Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves reminded Josh Richardson that he spent the early part of the season hearing rumors that he was headed to Minnesota, Winderman writes in a separate story. The Wolves were reportedly close to acquiring Richardson as the key piece in a Jimmy Butler trade, but the Heat nixed the deal when Minnesota allegedly asked for more assets. “When your name is out there like that, I was just ready for whatever happened, really,” Richardson said. “I wanted to stay here. But if a move happened, then I was prepared.”
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald names Richardson the most improved athlete in his 2018 awards for South Florida sports. He chooses Dwyane Wade‘s return to the Heat as the best personnel move.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/28/18

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Kings assigned big man Harry Giles to the Stockton Kings, according to a team press release. Giles has appeared in 22 games for Sacramento in his rookie season, posting 5.3 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 10.1 MPG, but has only played six games this month.
  • The Jazz assigned center Tony Bradley to the Salt Lake City Stars, the team’s PR department tweets. The Stars face the Austin Spurs on Friday. Bradley is averaging 14.6 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 14 G League contests this season.
  • The Hornets recalled forward Dwayne Bacon and guard Devonte Graham from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. Bacon had 19 points and nine rebounds in the Swarm’s win over the Maine Red Claws on Thursday. He has appeared in 17 games with Charlotte, averaging 5.5 PPG in 12.3 MPG. Graham totaled 30 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals for the Swarm on Thursday. He’s appeared in 13 Hornets games.
  • The Heat assigned shooting guard Dion Waiters to Sioux Falls, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Waiters is expected to practice twice with the G League team and rejoin the Heat on Sunday, Chiang adds. Waiters hasn’t played this season after undergoing ankle surgery last winter.
  • The Bucks assigned rookie guard Donte DiVincenzo to the Wisconsin Herd, according to a team press release. DiVincenzo, the 17th pick of the draft has appeared in 22 games with the Bucks, averaging 5.0 PPG in 16.1 MPG.

Heat Notes: Wade, Waiters, Whiteside, Winslow

Dwyane Wade has re-emerged as a vital late-game scorer for Miami, but he won’t mind sharing that role when Dion Waiters returns from ankle surgery, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters returned to practice this week for the first time since his January operation, and the Heat are hoping he can make his season debut soon.

“It’ll definitely be times,” Wade said of sharing the ball with Waiters. “I mean, he’s a big-shot maker and a big-shot taker. I’m not worried about him at all at those moments. But there will be times. It’s just me understanding I’m at a different phase in my life, where it doesn’t matter.”

Wade, who holds nearly all the franchise scoring records, has made a greater effort in his final season to get his younger teammates involved in the offense, encouraging them to take shots in clutch situations.

“It’s understanding that I want other guys to be in those positions,” he added. “And I want them to succeed, obviously, but you grow in failure, as well, in those moments. So I don’t do what I used to do, which was always go get it in those moments. I don’t.”

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are being cautious with Waiters to make sure he’s fully ready before he starts playing again, Winderman states in a question-and-answer column. The organization has seen Waiters return too early from other injuries twice before and they want to make sure he’s available for the second half of the season. They are hoping to gradually increase his minutes until he is ready to take on a sizable portion of the scoring load.
  • In the same piece, Winderman credits coach Erik Spoelstra for working center Hassan Whiteside back into the fourth-quarter mix even though the Heat were successful without him. Whiteside is seeing more time in late-game situations, although his free throw shooting remains an issue.
  • Justise Winslow had taken over point guard duties with Goran Dragic injured, but that change hasn’t been noted on All-Star ballots, where Winslow is still listed as a forward, Winderman observes in a separate story. Other Miami players out of position on the ballots are Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder.