Dion Waiters

Heat Rumors: Whiteside, Winslow, Wade, Haslem

The Heat, one of two teams that entered Thursday’s draft without a pick in either round, explored the possibility of trading into the draft. However, team president Pat Riley told reporters late last night that the team didn’t feel it made sense to pay the asking price for a second-round selection.

“Every second-round pick cost two second-round picks or a future second-round pick and cash,” Riley said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Although the Heat didn’t make any moves on draft night, Riley said the club has engaged in a “lot of discussion with a lot of teams about a lot of players,” according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). Riley also discussed several other offseason topics during his session with the media, so we’ll round up the highlights below, via Winderman:

  • According to Riley, the Heat have yet to offer Hassan Whiteside to any teams in trade talks. “I expect a lot of out Hassan, contrary to what people might think about us trading him,” Riley said. “We haven’t offered him to anybody, really, to be honest with you. So you go through an emotional period with a player and you deal with it and you come back and you work things out.” Of course, Riley’s comments could reflect a lack of a market for the veteran center.
  • Riley denied that Justise Winslow was offered in trades leading up to the draft. However, Winslow is believed to be available in the right deal.
  • Riley confirmed that the Heat will try to find a way to keep Wayne Ellington, though he acknowledged potential luxury-tax concerns, hinting that Miami likely wouldn’t be able to match an aggressive offer from another team.
  • The Heat don’t know yet whether Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem want to continue their respective careers, but they’d be welcomed back if they want to return to the Heat. “They’ve been together forever and they also deserve the respect to sit and wait on this thing. And so there’s no rush,” Riley said.
  • Given the Heat’s lack of cap room, Riley isn’t necessarily expecting an action-packed offseason for the club. “I don’t know if there are going to be any midnight meetings (at the start of free agency),” Riley said (Twitter link). “Not this year.”
  • Dion Waiters continues to recover from ankle surgery, but the Heat are hoping that he’ll be ready for training camp, says Riley.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Winslow, Dragic, Free Agents

The health of shooting guard Dion Waiters looms as one of the Heat’s biggest question marks heading into next season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. Waiters has been hampered two seasons by an ankle injury, which required season-ending surgery in January. The Heat believe Waiters will be better than ever once he heals but it’s no slam dunk he’ll even be ready for training camp. Miami president Pat Riley believes the return of Waiters, who appeared in just 30 games after signing a four-year, $52MM contract last summer, will be akin to adding a quality free agent.

“He was playing hurt for a year and a half for the most part,” Riley said. “I’m glad he had the surgery. I hope the surgery is 100 percent successful. You got a very talented 26-year-old player that still wants to make his mark and we don’t have to go out and pay somebody $25 million to get him to play.”

In other news concerning the Heat:

  • It’s more likely that Justise Winslow will get traded than Josh Richardson, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Winslow, who is still on his rookie deal, has one more guaranteed year remaining at $3.45MM. Richardson signed a four-year, $42MM extension last September. The Heat could use Winslow as a chip in a package for a top-level player or as a sweetener to dump a bad contract, with Jackson citing Tyler Johnson’s deal as an example. In contrast, Richardson would probably only be traded for an All-Star caliber player, Jackson adds.
  • The Suns’ hiring of Slovenian national team coach Igor Kokoskov as their head coach doesn’t necessarily increase the possibility of Goran Dragic being reunited with Phoenix, Winderman opines in a blog post. Acquiring a 31-year-old point guard probably wouldn’t make much sense for the rebuilding Suns, Winderman notes. However, if the Heat can regain the unprotected 2021 first-round pick they dealt to acquired Dragic, that might make it worth their while, Winderman adds.
  • What does the future hold for the Heat’s free agents? Austin Kent takes a closer look in our free agent stock watch.

Heat Rumors: Whiteside, Waiters, Haslem, Wade

The gamble the Heat took on Hassan Whiteside two years ago has backfired, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, and they are left with the choices of keeping him and his huge cap hit or trading him for virtually nothing. Whiteside still has two seasons remaining [including a $27.1MM player option for 2019/20] on the four-year deal he signed in the summer of 2016.

The Heat are open to dealing their starting center, but Bontemps warns they may not like the offers they get. He suggests the Mavericks might be interested if they can’t land a big-name free agent, with Dwight Powell going to Miami in return. Other possibilities Bontemps sees for Whiteside are heading to New York in exchange for Joakim Noah [owed roughly $37MM over the next two years] and the Bulls’ second-rounder or to Phoenix for Brandon Knight [$29MM over two years] and Tyson Chandler‘s expiring $13.6MM deal.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are counting on Dion Waiters to solidify the shooting guard position once he returns from ankle surgery, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters was limited to just 30 games before the January operation, and doctors aren’t sure if he will be ready for training camp or the start of the season. “I don’t think he’s felt right, physically, since when he first got here,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He got in great shape, but once he injured his ankle, then he was always dealing with that. This is going to be a really important summer for him. He’s going to be here and he’ll be working a ton behind the scenes just to get his legs right, then he’ll work on the next step of getting in world-class shape and then he’ll get into the next phase of really developing his basketball skills.”
  • Veteran forward Udonis Haslem isn’t sure whether Dwyane Wade will return for another season, adding he “wouldn’t be surprised” no matter what Wade decides, Jackson relays in the same story. Haslem hasn’t made a decision on his own future, but said he would like to work in the Heat organization when he retires, although not as a coach. He added that he and Wade haven’t discussed a mutual decision. “We’ve both in situations where we have a lot of different opportunities ahead of us,” Haslem said. “Do we want to retire together? In a perfect world it would be great to finish it together. But things don’t always work out like that.”
  • After playing just 16 postseason minutes, Rodney McGruder wants a larger role next year, Jackson adds. McGruder had surgery on his leg in October and appeared in 16 regular season games after he returned in February. “I want to play,” he said. “I am happy for my teammates. I love cheering them on. I want to be playing in the playoffs.”

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.