Dion Waiters

Southeast Notes: Walker, Heat, Wizards

After Kemba Walker‘s explosive 60-point performance Saturday against the 76ers, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer argues that the Hornets shouldn’t overthink things, and should offer Walker the maximum allowable contract this summer. Walker will be an unrestricted free agent as he enters his age-29 season, and Bonnell makes a case for the importance of keeping the point guard around, despite the team’s struggles in recent years.

Walker is having a career season, averaging 28.7 points and 6.1 assists per game, and is certainly capable of taking over any game with his scoring ability. Walker would certainly be expensive — his full, five-year max projects to be worth $189MM+, unless he makes an All-NBA team this season, in which the deal could be worth up to $221MM. However, Hornets owner Michael Jordan has shown that he isn’t afraid to spend to keep players in Charlotte, and Bonnell argues that this instance should be no exception for the team’s leader.

There’s more from the Southeast division:

Heat Notes: Carmelo, Waiters, Richardson

While there has been some speculation that the Heat could be a landing spot for Carmelo Anthony once the Rockets officially waive or trade him, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes that the Heat’s offseason meeting with Anthony’s reps was initiated by Carmelo’s camp rather than Miami’s.

According to Jackson, there are some Heat basketball people who don’t think Anthony would be a particularly good fit, particularly with the club’s rotation already pretty crowded. Miami has also been trying to get its defense on track, and adding Carmelo to the mix likely wouldn’t help on that front.

The Rockets announced on Thursday that they’ve parted ways with Anthony, but have yet to make an official roster move with him. As I detailed this morning, there are plenty of reasons for Houston to wait to finalize anything, so the Heat should have some time to decide if they want to get involved.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • Dion Waiters‘ return to the court for the Heat still isn’t considered imminent, according to Jackson, who hears that conditioning remains an issue for the veteran guard even once he’s fully recovered from ankle surgery.
  • Jackson also circles back to the Heat’s involvement in the Jimmy Butler talks, confirming that the best offer the team made last month was Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, and a protected first-round pick. According to Jackson, after the Timberwolves passed on that offer, the Heat didn’t exactly pull Richardson off the table — they simply never returned to the table.
  • In case you missed it, we relayed a few more Heat-related notes on Wednesday.

Heat Notes: Wade, Waiters, Carmelo

Monday’s loss to Philadelphia was the Heat‘s third straight defeat on their home court, dropping the team’s overall record to 5-8. In the wake of that game, Ethan J. Skolnick of HeatBeatMiami.com spoke to one Heat official who admitted, “We need a trade. Badly.”

However, as Skolnick points out, there’s not really a great trade out there for Miami, especially that Jimmy Butler is now a member of the Sixers. And without a deal that shake things up, it looks like the Heat may be stuck in Eastern Conference purgatory, likely to finish between sixth and ninth in the standings.

As the Heat weigh how to turn things around after a slow start and how to add a difference-making player, let’s round up a few more notes out of Miami…

  • Dwyane Wade remains away from the team as he spends time with his wife and their newborn daughter, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The veteran guard will miss the team’s upcoming games vs. Brooklyn, Indiana, and the Lakers and then will make a decision from there, says Reynolds. “We’re totally fine with it,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
  • Now that Dion Waiters has missed Miami’s first 13 games, he has officially lost out on the $1.2MM bonus he would’ve earned if he had played in 70 contests this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That bonus was considered an unlikely incentive since Waiters didn’t play 70 games last year either, so his cap hit will remain unchanged.
  • With Carmelo Anthony‘s future in Houston up in the air, rumors have been swirling about the possibility of Carmelo landing in South Beach. Anthony’s reps discussed a possible deal with the Heat in the summer, and league executives who spoke to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News believes there could still be a fit there. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears also cited the Heat as a potential suitor for Anthony during an appearance on The Jump (hat tip to Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen & Roll). Dave Hyde of The Sun Sentinel isn’t on board with the idea.

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.