Dion Waiters

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.

Southeast Notes: Waiters, Birch, Bembry

After months of lingering ankle issues, Heat guard Dion Waiters underwent successful surgery to repair instability in the area, including a pre-existing fracture, Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel writes.

The recovery process for the shooting guard is expected to take six to nine months, a timeline that could encroach upon Heat training camp next season. The ankle issues have bothered Waiters since the tail end of the 2016/17 campaign in which he earned his four-year, $52MM deal.

In 30 compromised games for the Heat this season, Waiters averaged 14.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Magic have experimented with undrafted rookie Khem Birch in their rotation and the results have been positive, John Denton of Orlando’s official team site writes. “He’s remarkably quick off the floor and he does surprise guys [with his shot-blocking abilities],” said coach Frank Vogel, “He continues to prove himself and we’ll continue to use him.
  • An adductor strain revealed in an MRI will sideline second-year Hawks forward DeAndre’ Bembry for one-to-three more weeks, the team announced in a press release. Bembry hasn’t seen action since December 22.
  • Despite his name coming up in trade rumors, Kent Bazemore is content playing through adversity with the Hawks, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. “I came here four years ago. We had some success right off the bat. I love what this organization has done, what this city has done for me and my family,” he said.

Heat Apply For Disabled Player Exception

The Heat have applied for a disabled player exception to gain extra cap flexibility in the wake of Dion Waiters‘ ankle injury, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Today was the last day for teams to apply for disabled player exceptions for the 2017/18 season.

As we explain in our glossary entry on the subject, a disabled player exception gives a team some additional spending flexibility in the event that an NBA-designated physician determines an injured player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year. Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his ankle, so if the league agrees with the Heat’s medical assessment, the team will receive a DPE.

The amount of that disabled player exception is either half of the injured player’s salary or the amount of the mid-level exception, whichever is smaller. In the Heat’s case, the DPE would be worth $5.5MM, half of Waiters’ $11MM salary. If the Heat are granted that exception, it wouldn’t give them an extra roster spot, and the league wouldn’t reimburse the team at all if it uses the exception. Nonetheless, a DPE can be a useful tool for clubs that have already used their cap room and/or mid-level exceptions.

Assuming they receive a disabled player exception, the Heat could use it to sign a free agent to a one-year deal, or to trade for (or claim) a player with one year left on his contract. It can only be used once, so if the club uses it to sign a player to a $2.5MM deal, the remaining $3MM wouldn’t be available.

The Heat would have to use the exception by March 12, the first business day after the typical March 10 deadline. So if Miami doesn’t use the DPE to acquire a player at the trade deadline, it could still come in handy on the buyout market.

The Celtics also hold a disabled player exception worth about $8.4MM, while the Nets are expected to be granted one that would be worth $6MM.

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Gortat, Waiters, Hammond

Hornets coach Steve Clifford plans to put a greater emphasis on his personal health when he returns to work Tuesday, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The fifth-year coach had a health scare in November that forced him to step away from the team while doctors determined the source of the problem.

“The biggest thing for me is a lack of sleep. Stress-related,” Clifford said. “[The doctors’] biggest concern with me is [most executives] don’t travel as much as I do. That’s why they have been a little more careful — and rightfully so — about me coming back.”

Assistant Stephen Silas has been running the team in Clifford’s absence and will coach tomorrow’s game in Detroit before Clifford takes over at Tuesday’s practice.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards center Marcin Gortat said his quote about wanting to finish his career in Orlando was misinterpreted, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gortat mentioned that he would like to return to the Magic so he could end his NBA journey where it started, but emphasized that he has no desire to be traded. “I want to play in Washington,” he said. “Just because I want to finish my career in a year-and-a-half doesn’t mean I don’t want to play in Washington. I think everything today was blown away a little too much.”
  • The Heat weren’t concerned about the $1.1MM bonus that Dion Waiters might have collected if he had remained healthy, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters needed to play 70 games to receive the incentive, which won’t happen now that he is expected to have season-ending surgery on his left ankle. Miami put the bonus in his contract as a way to allow him to obtain his desired salary while leaving enough cap space to re-sign Wayne Ellington, Winderman explains, adding that the extra $1.1MM wouldn’t have pushed the team into the luxury tax.
  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd is confident that new GM John Hammond will eventually have success in Orlando, according to John Denton of NBA.com. Hammond constructed the current team in Milwaukee and hired Kidd before leaving for Orlando last summer. “Hammond is one of the best at putting teams together to win,’’ Kidd said. “You talk about a great individual at understanding college talent at a very high level, he’s a competitor and he wants to win and I enjoyed him when he was here [in Milwaukee].’’

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Clifford, Cordinier

The Heat have watched Josh Richardson develop into a go-to perimeter player, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says in a video published at the newspaper’s website. Richardson’s numbers are up across the board and his presence has helped the team weather the Dion Waiters injury.

Richardson has averaged 12.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Heat this season, up to 17.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per in 15 December contests.

Not only has the swingman been a revelation for the positionless Heat, he’s shown an ability to hang with large NBA small forwards despite weighing just 200 pounds and playing through college as a 6’6″ point guard.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks draft-and-stash prospect Isaia Cordinier will undergo season-ending knee surgery, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando writes. The 2016 second-round pick has been struggling with tendinitis since at least the summer.
  • The medical issue that Hornets coach Steve Clifford struggled with for over a month can be attributed to a combination of stress on the sidelines as an NBA coach and sleep deprivation, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. The feature delves into the head coach’s decision and why he’s confident a similar setback won’t happen again.
  • The Heat have a number of options with which to replace Dion Waiters‘ production, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes, including injured swingmen Justise Winslow and and Rodney McGruder. Players like Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington could also see larger roles.

Season-Ending Surgery Expected For Dion Waiters

January 11, 5:01pm: After having received a second opinion in Los Angeles, Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his left ankle, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

January 10, 4:10pm: Heat guard Dion Waiters has been nagged for much of the season by a left ankle injury, an issue that has kept him out of action since December 22. While the club has moved forward with a non-surgical rehab program so far, Waiters recently sought out a second opinion, and a season-ending surgical procedure is one of the options he’s considering, an associate tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). No decisions have been made yet, however.

Waiters’ camp and the Heat figure to work in tandem to figure out the best approach for the 26-year-old, who has received multiple medical opinions, per Jackson. Waiters had suggested last month that offseason surgery may also be an option if he can make it through the 2017/18 campaign without having to go under the knife.

The injury has likely contributed to Waiters’ dip in production so far this season. After posting a .424 FG% and .395 3PT% in 2016/17, the former fourth overall pick has seen those shooting rates decline to .398 and .306 this year.

Waiters, who inked a new contract with the Heat back in July, is under contract through the 2020/21 season at a rate of nearly $12MM annually, so the club will be motivated to find the best long-term solution, rather than trying to rush him back onto the court. Still, ESPN’s Zach Lowe indicated in his latest piece that Waiters’ injury situation has created some tension in Miami. The two sides hope to have some clarity on the issue this week or next week, per Lowe.

No matter how the Heat and Waiters choose to address his ankle injury, the veteran guard appears extremely unlikely to cash in on his $1.1MM games-played bonus for this season. Waiters would have to appear in 70 games to receive that money, and he has already missed 10 of 40 contests.

Heat Rumors: Winslow, Whiteside, Dragic, Ellington

Although the Heat lack a superstar player, there’s optimism within the organization that the team is capable of winning upwards of 50 games and a playoff round or two. Still, the Heat are aware that they face “major questions” about their ceiling, Zach Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN.com. As such, Miami is a team that figures to be active as the trade deadline approaches.

According to Lowe, the Heat – who may be in the tax next season – are projecting optimism that they could trade the lucrative new long-term contracts handed out to the likes of Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk if they need to. However, rival executives are skeptical that all those deals would be easily movable.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Heat’s outlook and trade possibilities:

  • Justise Winslow has been surpassed by Josh Richardson as the Heat’s small forward of the future, while Johnson has emerged as Miami’s top small-ball power forward, according to Lowe, who suggests that Winslow is a potential trade chip for the Heat. Lowe adds that multiple rival execs are calling Winslow the Heat’s version of Jahlil Okafor, though he thinks that’s “a little much.”
  • The Heat’s best and most realistic trade package if they look to make a big splash would likely be Winslow and Hassan Whiteside, says Lowe. Neither player has been a major part of Miami’s best crunch-time lineup as of late, so the club could dangle that duo in search of a star center.
  • The Heat have shown no interest in trading Goran Dragic, per Lowe’s league sources.
  • Waiters’ ankle injury has created some tension in Miami, with Waiters seeking a second opinion after the team put him on a non-surgical rehab program. The two sides hope to get clarity on Waiters’ recovery this week or next, according to Lowe, who notes that the veteran guard “almost feels redundant” on a Heat roster that features several ball-handlers.
  • Long-term luxury tax concerns for the Heat may cost them Wayne Ellington. The veteran sharpshooter is in line for a raise when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and Miami likely won’t be able to afford him, prompting Lowe to wonder if the club would consider trading him rather than losing him for nothing.

Heat Notes: Frontcourt, Waiters, Patience

This time last season, Heat president Pat Riley made the decision to stand pat with a veteran core and it paid off in the form of one of the most impressive in-season turnarounds in recent memory. You can imagine, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel suggests, that Miami’s success so far in 2017/18 has muted trade talk at this point in the season.

The Heat, 20-17 and currently seventh in the East, sit well situated to nab a playoff spot. It’s plausible to even consider that they could gain the 1.5 games necessary to catch the Wizards who currently sit fourth in the conference if all breaks right down the stretch.

While Riley may not be content with a team whose long-term ceiling seems to fall short of genuine contention, there’s no indication that the organization won’t remain patient for the time being.

There’s more from South Beach:

  • The Heat have found success starting seven-footers Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk together and aren’t about to abandon the unconventional approach, even in the throes of the small ball era. “Right now, we’re going with it,” head coach Erik Spoelstra told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “There’ll be minutes that they’ll play together. There’s certain part of that combination that I really like and other parts that have to get better. […] And I don’t necessarily look at Kelly as seven-footer. He has versatility that’s much different than a normal seven-footer.
  • Plagued by a lingering sprained ankle, Heat guard Dion Waiters is pursuing a second opinion on how to treat the injury, an Associated Press report says. Waiters considered surgery when he initially hurt the ankle last March and may consider it again. The 26-year-old has already missed seven games this season, making it unlikely that he reaches the 70-game threshold required for a contract bonus to kick in.
  • A hypothetical trade scenario that would involved sending Hassan Whiteside to the Grizzlies in exchange for Marc Gasol is an intriguing one, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says in a question-and-answer feature with readers, but the dicey history between Gasol and former Heat assistant coach David Fizdale could be a red flag.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Wizards, Speights, Bacon

The Heat will be eligible to apply for a hardship exception after tonight’s game, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. To qualify, teams must have at least four players miss three consecutive games with injuries and be ruled out for at least two more weeks by an independent medical specialist. Dion Waiters will sit out his third straight game tonight with a sprained ankle, joining Justise Winslow, who has missed eight games with a left knee sprain, and Rodney McGruder and Okaro White, who are both recovering from surgeries.

Miami, which signed White under similar circumstances last season, has a roster candidate playing for its G League affiliate, Winderman notes. Veteran swingman Alonzo Gee is averaging 17.8 points in five games with Sioux Falls. The 30-year-old, who last appeared in the NBA when he signed a 10-day contract with the Nuggets in January, has played for six teams in eight years.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • John Wall and Bradley Beal both used the word “selfish” to explain why the Wizards frequently suffer letdowns like the one that resulted in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Washington was expected to be among the top teams in the East, but has dropped games to the Mavericks, Suns, Lakers, Clippers, Nets [twice] and Hawks, who all have losing records. “We talk about it. We say when we play these teams that are not above .500 or not one of the great teams, we go out there playing for stats,” Wall said.
  • At age 30, Marreese Speights has become a leader on a young Magic team, notes John Denton of NBA.com. Speights, who signed with Orlando this summer, has been around seasoned veterans throughout his career and is passing on the knowledge he gained to his new teammates. “You never know when this game is going to get taken away from you, and that happens to a lot of people, so you have to cherish it every time you get to play,’’ he said. “You have to understand this is bigger than what you think it is. I never take it for granted putting that jersey on.’’
  • Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon will have a short stay in the G League, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The rookie out of Florida State made an impression Thursday with 45 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Swarm. “Barring injury to a Hornets player [Friday against Golden State], the plan is to have Bacon play in Greensboro tonight [i.e. Thursday] against Wisconsin, and then on Saturday in Iowa,” GM Rich Cho wrote in a text message. “We would then recall him after the game on Saturday and have him join [the Hornets] in LA.”

Heat Rumors: Waiters, Johnson, Adebayo

Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters may have offseason surgery to correct his lingering left ankle issues, according to an Associated Press report. Waiters missed the final 13 games of last season due to an ankle sprain and the injury never fully healed, the AP story continues. He’s missed the last two games after re-injuring the ankle and there’s no timetable for his return. “It’s something I don’t like to talk about because there’s nothing we really can do right now but try to take care of it, get it stronger, things like that,” Waiters told the assembled media. “I don’t want to be in this predicament where it’s a little tweak, you’ve got to miss a decent amount just off a little tweak.” However, Waiters does not want to have surgery during the season, the report adds.

In other developments regarding the Heat:

  • Tyler Johnson has provided a spark with both Waiters and starting point guard Goran Dragic sidelined by injuries, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel notes. The combo guard has scored 17 or more points in three games since being moved into the starting lineup. “When Tyler’s at his best version of himself, you just see a bundle of energy and toughness and winning plays,” coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman and other media members. “It doesn’t matter necessarily how many points he scored. … His confidence is growing every single game, and you can see it. You can see it before your eyes. You can see it happening.”
  • Hassan Whiteside has returned after missing 13 games with a knee injury but rookie Bam Adebayo deserves to stay in the rotation, Winderman opines in a mailbag post. The Heat must acknowledge that Whiteside, Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk are three of their best players and Spoelstra should be able to figure out a way to utilize all of those big men, Winderman adds.
  • The club is in a much better position than last season, as Winderman points out that the Heat entered the Christmas break a year ago 11 games below .500. “I still think there’s some really good things going on with our team, despite the injuries, despite some of the adversity we’re going through,” Spoelstra said. “I like the direction we’re going.”