Dion Waiters

Heat Rumors: Butler, Trade Talks, 15-Man Roster

Reports earlier this week on the Jimmy Butler situation suggested that the Timberwolves nearly accepted a Heat offer that included Josh Richardson and a first-round pick, but ultimately asked Miami for more. A subsequent report indicated that Wolves owner Glen Taylor wasn’t responsible for turning down that offer.

During an appearance on Mason and Ireland, ESPN’s Jorge Sedano confirmed both stories, reporting that the Heat and Timberwolves got close to a trade that would have sent Butler to Miami for Richardson, a first-round pick, and Dion Waiters. The two teams even exchanged medical information for the players involved. However, according to Sedano, Tom Thibodeau asked the Heat for more draft picks, at which point Pat Riley called him a “motherf—er” and hung up on him (Twitter links).

For what it’s worth, a source familiar with the negotiations disputes that story, telling Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel that Riley insists he didn’t offer such a reaction. That source apparently didn’t deny the other details of those trade discussions though.

Here’s more on the Heat, including another note on their dealings with the Timberwolves:

  • Both Winderman and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald report that the Heat aren’t pushing to re-engage the Timberwolves in trade discussions involving Butler. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that a deal won’t happen, Miami sounds ready to move on and prepare for the season. Butler didn’t travel with the Wolves to Milwaukee, with Thibodeau telling reporters that the All-NBA swingman is in Minnesota working on his conditioning, adding that the situation remains “fluid” (Twitter link via Dane Moore of 1500ESPN).
  • The Heat typically carry a full 15-man roster into the regular season, but the team appears likely to open the 2018/19 campaign with just 14 players, as Winderman writes in another piece for The Sun Sentinel. According to Winderman, the Heat haven’t entered the season with fewer than 15 players on standard contracts since 2003/04. Luxury tax concerns likely play a major part in that decision this year — Miami is currently over the tax line by about $6.3MM.
  • In a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Chris Bosh explained that he still hopes to return to the NBA because he views his career as an “unfinished painting.” Bosh pointed specifically to his final season with the Heat, noting that he thought the team had the potential to win the East, but he didn’t get a chance to see it through.

Latest On Jimmy Butler Trade Saga

It has now been 19 days since word of Jimmy Butler‘s trade request was leaked, and despite pressure from Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau, Butler has “never wavered” on his desire to be moved, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. According to Krawczynski, Butler has dined with teammates and sent text messages of encouragement to players like Taj Gibson and Josh Okogie, but remains determined to leave Minnesota, preferably before the season begins.

If the Timberwolves are unable to complete a deal soon, Butler may “begrudgingly” report to the team in advance of the regular season, says Krawczynski. Despite not reporting to Minnesota so far, Butler isn’t expected to forfeit pay checks once the season begins, even if his return would create an awkward situation for him and his teammates.

Here’s more on the Butler saga:

  • While trade talks between the Timberwolves and the Heat – and other teams – have hit a stand still at various times in recent weeks, those discussions are still ongoing, says Krawczynski. While some potential trade partners can perhaps afford to wait and see if they can sign Butler during 2019’s free agent period, clubs like the Heat and Rockets are under more pressure to pull off a trade, since they won’t have cap room next summer.
  • The Heat now appear willing to include Josh Richardson in a potential deal for Butler, but the Clippers haven’t relented on Tobias Harris, according to Krawczynski. A report last week indicated that the Clips didn’t plan to trade Harris, and nothing has changed on that front — L.A. hasn’t put its veteran forward in any offers for Butler, per The Athletic. There are “no active talks” between the Timberwolves and Clippers, Krawczynski adds.
  • The Timberwolves have “quietly pushed back” on the idea that they deserve the blame for a deal not being completed yet, writes Krawczynski. The Wolves insist they don’t feel obligated to accept a below-market offer for Butler just because the regular season is approaching.
  • Within his Sunday report on the talks between the Heat and Timberwolves, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that the Heat’s apparent willingness to pay Butler a five-year deal at or near the maximum salary has contributed to the swingman’s enthusiasm for a trade to Miami.
  • The Heat had been looking to involve a third team in the Butler talks to take on an unwanted contract – perhaps Dion Waiters‘ deal – but incentivizing that third team with draft picks became one of the road blocks to getting something done, league sources told Wojnarowski.

James Johnson May Not Be Ready For Season Opener

Heat forward James Johnson hasn’t been medically cleared for contact and may not be ready when the season begins next month, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Johnson had surgery in May for a sports hernia that he suffered at the end of January. He remains hopeful that he’ll be ready for the October 17 season opener, but that depends on his medical progress.

“My goal would be be back before that first game, try to get a couple preseason games in,” Johnson said. “… I am not going to push nothing I’m not supposed to push. A setback would be the same as going back for surgery, I believe.”

Asked about being cleared for contact drills, Johnson responded, “I wish I knew the answer to that. I can’t veer off from this path they’ve got us on. I have to stay humbled and stay patient.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra described Johnson’s condition as close to 100% and said he will be participating in every practice, although his level of involvement will be determined by the medical staff.

Johnson elected not to tell the Heat about the injury when it occurred because he was concerned he might be sidelined for the rest of the season. He opted to play through the pain and address it once the team was eliminated from the playoffs.

“I thought it was just a strain,” he said. “I didn’t know what to call it. At first it wasn’t even that terrible. As the season went on, a little bit of my abilities started to go with it.”

Miami already faces the prospect of starting the season without Dion Waiters, who is recovering from ankle surgery in January. He was given an eight- to 10-month recovery prognosis, which could put his return in late November.

“He didn’t have a setback,” Spoelstra said of Waiters. “He’s actually on course. Everybody’s body is different. He’s been working all summer. You probably noticed his Instagram posts, that’s how everybody follows players now. It hasn’t been like he hasn’t been working. It’s on course. He’ll be back when his body tells him that he can be back.

“The thing I’m encouraged by is he’s able to work, he’s on the court, he’s able to do stuff. He won’t be able to participate in the type of training camp that we’re going to be starting with. But we’ll continue to monitor him. He’ll be with us.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, Whiteside, Waiters, Butler

Justise Winslow‘s hope for an extension may fall victim to the Heat’s other recent financial decisions, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami already finds itself in luxury tax territory because of moves made during the past two offseasons and may not want to commit to a new deal with Winslow before the October 15 deadline.

After the Heat missed out on Kevin Durant in 2016 and lost Dwyane Wade to the Bulls, they responded by matching an offer sheet for Tyler Johnson and signing James Johnson and Wayne Ellington. A year later, Miami was a finalist for free agent Gordon Hayward, but once he chose the Celtics, the Heat used their cap space to add Kelly Olynyk.

The franchise could have more than $131MM in committed salary for 2019/20 if Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic all exercise their player options. Winslow will become a restricted free agent next summer if no extension deal is reached.

There’s more this morning from Miami:

  • Whiteside may not be any happier with his playing time this season, Winderman adds in the same story. The center voiced his complaints about the coaching staff to the media last year as his minutes per game dropped to 25.3 after reaching a career-high 32.6 the season before. Whiteside is Miami’s highest-paid player at $25.4MM per season, but his usage has fallen as the Heat have transitioned to using smaller lineups. With Bam Adebayo, Olynyk and James Johnson all competing for minutes in the middle, it seems unlikely that Whiteside’s role will increase.
  • Dion Waiterslingering ankle injury takes away the Heat’s chance to see how he will work in tandem with Wade in training camp, Winderman notes in another piece. With no experienced backup point guard on the roster, Wade may inherit the role, similar to what he did in Cleveland. However, it’s going to be difficult to sort out all the backcourt candidates until Waiters is healthy enough to play.
  • The Heat have been mentioned among teams with interest in Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler, and they could offer the type of culture and veteran roster that Butler reportedly wants, Winderman tweets. However, they won’t have the cap room to add another star next summer, which might lessen Butler’s interest in coming to Miami. Winderman suggests that Richardson, Winslow, Olynyk and Adebayo could be among the players the Heat would consider moving in a Butler deal.

Dion Waiters Unlikely To Be Healthy To Start Season

After missing much of the 2017/18 season with an ankle injury, Dion Waiters won’t be available for the start of training camp and likely won’t be ready to play on opening night, Heat president Pat Riley said today (Twitter link via Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel).

“Dion will not be returning to the court until the Heat medical team and training staff deem him healed, rehabbed and physically conditioned for all basketball activities,” Riley added (Twitter link via Winderman).

While there’s no indication that Waiters’ absence will extend well into the 2018/19 season, this is still bad news for the Heat, who re-signed the veteran guard to a lucrative four-year contract last summer despite being aware of his potential ankle issues (Twitter link via Winderman). The 26-year-old was limited to just 30 games in the first season of that four-year deal, and now seemingly won’t be available to start the second year.

Despite Waiters’ absence, the Heat will have no shortage of options at the shooting guard spot. Newly re-signed veteran Dwyane Wade will rejoin a deep group of twos that also could include Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and Derrick Jones.

Southeast Rumors: Waiters, Dedmon, Pope, Satoransky

Heat shooting guard Dion Waiters may not be ready for the beginning of the regular season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Teammate Briante Weber told Jackson that Waiters, who underwent ankle surgery in January, has not participated in any contact work or pickup games with his teammates. With Dwyane Wade continuing to waffle on whether he’ll re-sign with the team, Miami could pursue other free agent options, Jackson adds, with Jamal Crawford, Mario Chalmers and Joe Johnson among a pool of potential targets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon, who suffered an avulsion fracture in his left ankle last week, has shed his walking boot, according to a team press release. He will now participate in weight-bearing rehabilitation and then be re-evaluated in two weeks. Dedmon, who will make $7.2MM this season, will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
  • The Magic are close to hiring Bill Pope as their director of pro personnel, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Pope currently holds a similar position with the Kings.
  • Tomas Satoransky will enter camp as the Wizards’ backup point guard but there’s no guarantee he’ll remain in the rotation, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes in a player profile. Satoransky had trouble holding onto that spot last season and newcomer Austin Rivers and Troy Brown Jr. can play the point behind John Wall if needed. There’s also more depth at the wing, reducing the chances of Satoransky seeing action at those positions, Hughes adds.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Winslow, Waiters, Howard

Hornets coach James Borrego is seeking to give his team a fresh identity this season, labeling pace and ball movement as two important factors that can help the team, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer relays. Borrego was hired by the Hornets in May after spending the last three years under Gregg Popovich with the Spurs, plus a stint with San Antonio from 2003 to 2010.

“When the ball is just being pounded and one guy has it in his hands for five or six seconds – when we’re just seeing him dance with the ball – the rest of the defense just gets to relax and load up,” Borrego said. “You’re not going to be perfect all the time, but let’s put pressure on the defense constantly. … We demanded it in San Antonio. My job is to sell that to the players to do what’s best for the team.”

The Spurs are known for picking apart defenses with crisp passing, spacing and off-ball movement, and that’s exactly what Borrego hopes to bring to the Hornets this season. Charlotte helped alleviate this issue by allowing Dwight Howard, a paint-oriented player, to depart for the Wizards this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Although Heat forward Justise Winslow is eligible for a contract extension, it remains unclear how the team plans to use the 22-year-old, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel notes in an “Ask Ira” mailbag. The Heat signed Winslow’s teammate and starting forward Josh Richardson to an extension last summer.
  • Heat guard Dion Waiters continues to work his way back from an ankle injury that sidelined him for most of the 2017/18 season, but the Syracuse product has yet to be cleared by a doctor for full-contact play. “Once I’m cleared from the doc it’s on,” he posted on social media, according to the Sun Sentinel.
  • Dwight Howard could be the missing piece the Wizards have been seeking for quite some time, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington contests. Should he buy in, Howard’s ability to defend the rim, set effective screens and play in the pick-and-roll could pay dividends for Washington.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Kidd-Gilchrist, Wall

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will have a difficult time coming up with a rotation after team president Pat Riley failed to address the logjam at several positions, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. With Hassan WhitesideKelly OlynykBam Adebayo and James Johnson on the roster, there aren’t enough frontcourt minutes to go around and keep everyone happy, Winderman continues. There’s also an excess of shooting guards options (Rodney McGruderDion WaitersTyler JohnsonWayne Ellington and Josh Richardson) even if Dwyane Wade isn’t re-signed, Winderman adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets are thinking seriously about going with smaller lineups more often, featuring Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at power forward and Frank Kaminsky at center, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reports. Charlotte has plenty of rotation-worthy options at small forward and shooting guard to allow those position changes to take place, Bonnell continues. If Kidd-Gilchrist logs significant playing time at power forward, Kaminsky could join an unsettled rotation at center and his perimeter defensive shortcomings wouldn’t be as much of an issue, Bonnell adds.
  • This is a pivotal season for Wizards point guard John Wall, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington points out. Following the upcoming season, Wall’s four-year, $170MM-plus extension kicks in and it’s time for him to show he can lead a major contender, Hughes continues. He must improve his field-goal efficiency and mesh well with incoming center Dwight Howard, Hughes adds.
  • Heat summer-league star Derrick Jones will struggle to find playing time, Winderman wrote in another mailbag piece. Get that info, plus other Miami notes, right here.

Heat Notes: Jones, Richardson, Waiters, Deng

Derrick Jones looked like a star in Summer League, but it won’t be easy for him to get playing time, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel in a mailbag column. Jones was the Heat’s top scorer in the Sacramento league, averaging 21.3 points in three games, along with 7.3 rebounds. A two-way player last season, he appeared in 14 games for Miami and started eight.

Jones, a small forward who signed a two-year deal in July, faces heavy competition for minutes. Josh Richardson will start at that position, and using Jones as a backup means moving Justise Winslow to either power forward or the backcourt and the Heat are already overloaded in both areas. It may take a roster move or two for Jones to get an opportunity.

There’s more this morning out of Miami:

  • In the same column, Winderman tabs Richardson as the Heat player most likely to raise his game to an All-Star level in the future. Richardson became a full-time starter last year in his third NBA season and responded with a 12.9/3.5/2.9 line. The four-year, $42MM extension that Richardson agreed to last year will kick in this season, raising his salary to $9.367MM.
  • Fans shouldn’t expect too much from Dion Waiters in his return from injury, Winderman cautions in a separate piece. Waiters played just 30 games last year before undergoing season-ending ankle surgery in January. He should improve the team, Winderman notes, but will be competing for minutes with Richardson, Tyler Johnson and possibly Dwyane Wade.
  • The Heat still have little hope of finding a taker for Johnson’s contract, Winderman adds in the same story. The Nets’ offer sheet that Miami matched in 2016 starts to balloon this year, paying Johnson $19,245,370 in each of the next two seasons and giving him the second-highest salary on the team. Winderman notes that the Rockets moved Ryan Anderson‘s similar deal this week, but Anderson agreed to a substantial giveback in the final year of his contract, which Johnson doesn’t have incentive to do.
  • After agreeing to a buyout with the Lakers, Luol Deng is unlikely to return to Miami, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Deng would find minutes hard to come by in an already-crowded Heat rotation and wouldn’t want to risk being stuck on the bench like he was in Los Angeles. Deng spent two seasons in Miami before signing with the Lakers in 2016.

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.