Dion Waiters

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Waiters, Heat, Leonsis

The Wizards are eyeing their own version of load management with a new commitment to sports science this season, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes.

Washington hired the likes of Dr. Daniel Medina and Mark Simpson in preparation, Buckner notes, with the team also creating the Monumental Basketball Athlete Care and Performance department to help monitor the workloads of each active player on the year.

“I think we did a good job in the past,” GM Tommy Sheppard said of managing players’ minutes. “I just think there are opportunities to add to that and certainly that’s what Danny’s expertise and Mark’s expertise will blend very well. It’s really trying to individualize a lot more.”

The Wizards have worked hard to protect superstar Bradley Beal in recent seasons, with the 26-year-old not missing a single game over the past two years. Beal led the league in minutes per game with 36.9 last season, however, leaving Sheppard and others to take all factors into consideration.

“The fact that he was able to perform at the level that he did, I think proves that [he was healthy]. Now, can we bring his minutes down? Sure. But is it the right thing to do? Is that the best thing for Bradley? Is it the best thing for the Wizards?” Sheppard said. “What I think is exciting about the staff we have assembled and the people that we’re blending in, that’s for everybody, the collective, to come up with. That’s where we are right now. We haven’t made any conclusions yet.” 

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat could greatly benefit from having the old Dion Waiters back to form this season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Waiters, who averaged 15.8 points in 46 games with Miami during the 2016/17 season, received a career-low 25.9 minutes in his 44 contests last season. He’s mostly dealt with injuries in recent years, causing him to miss over half of his games in a Heat uniform.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman ponders whether the Heat will continue scanning the market for a leading man after acquiring Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia this offseason. Miami has long been linked to Bradley Beal, though the Wizards have maintained he’s off limits in trade conversations.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis called a number of people for advice before organizing the team’s new basketball operations department, Candace Buckner details for the Washington Post. Leonsis spoke with the likes of Gregg Popovich, Adam Silver, Barack Obama and 75 others involved in business and professional sports, Buckner notes.

Eastern Notes: Harris, Satoransky, Leonsis, Heat

Nets shooting guard Joe Harris could double his salary in free agency next summer, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Harris will make $7.67MM during the upcoming season and Scotto notes that veteran shooting guards received well above that figure in free agency this summer. Danny Green signed a two-year, $30MM deal with the Lakers while J.J. Redick got a two-year, $26.5MM contract with the Pelicans.

Harris might get even more, as Scotto points out that several other comparable shooting guards are making between $17.2MM and $20MM this season. The Nets hold Harris’ Bird Rights, giving them the inside track on signing him.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Tomas Satoransky‘s price tag became too much to bear for the Wizards in restricted free agency, as Fred Katz of The Athletic details. The Bulls offered him a three-year, $30MM contract and Washington felt that was too much for a player who’d be a backup once John Wall returned from his Achilles injury. A sign-and-trade was worked out that brought back a 2020 second-round pick and other considerations to Washington. Satoransky wasn’t disappointed. “I always felt like, for me, it was always harder than for others,” he said of his experience in Washington. “I had to always keep proving (myself) to people. And I always felt like, ‘Man, I’ve done enough to have that.’ So, I felt this needs a new start.”
  • Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis will be more visible with a new front office structure in place, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “Our owners are going to be more involved,” Leonsis said. “You constantly have to gauge back and forth: is it good to be involved, or is it not good to be involved? Every agent, every player that I’ve talked to said the more they see Raul Fernandez and Laurene Powell-Jobs and me, the more connected they feel to what our vision and what our ultimate plan is.”
  • Any package that the Heat would send out in a potential Bradley Beal and Wall deal with the Wizards would need to include James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and Kelly Olynyk for salary-matching purposes, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Trading for Beal alone would probably require the Heat to give up their three best assets, Bam Adebayo, Winslow and Tyler Herro, but they wouldn’t realistically be able to attach a draft pick until next June, Jackson adds.

Heat Notes: Paul, Beal, Expiring Contracts, Waiters

The Heat and Thunder never came close to making a deal involving Chris Paul, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Miami was pursuing Russell Westbrook before Oklahoma City agreed to trade him to Houston last week. The focus shifted to a possible deal that would bring Paul to the Heat, but they don’t have the same level of enthusiasm about acquiring him that they did for Westbrook. (Twitter link). A report today indicates that Oklahoma City is pessimistic about its chances of moving Paul and may keep him on the roster for the entire season.

The Heat were only willing to take on the three years and $124MM left on Paul’s contract if OKC met certain demands, including the return of Miami’s draft picks for 2021 and 2023, Jackson adds. The Heat are reluctant to absorb that much salary because it would restrict their flexibility for the summer of 2021.

There’s more from South Florida:

  • Miami’s next chance to add a star could come if Bradley Beal turns down an extension offer from the Wizards, according to Jackson (Twitter link). He suggests the Heat will be among the teams contacting Washington about Beal if they don’t reach an agreement. Beal will become eligible for the extension, which would pay him $111MM over three seasons, on July 26. Jackson notes that the Wizards have turned aside all trade offers involving Beal so far, but he will become a free agent in 2021 without the extension.
  • Some of the Heat’s expiring contracts don’t look so bad after this summer’s spending and may prove to be valuable trade assets, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson both have 2020/21 player options, but Winderman states that Olynyk might opt out of his $13.2MM salary in view of this year’s market. Johnson is more likely to opt in for $16MM because of his age. Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard have expiring deals with no options and are expected to be trade chips.
  • Frustrated by jokes over his body last season, Dion Waiters showed off his leaner, stronger physique in an Instragram post Monday, as relayed in an ESPN story. Waiters admits to being in a “dark place mentally & physically” during the past season as he tried to shake off the effects of an ankle injury.

Heat, Westbrook Have Mutual Interest In Trade

The Heat have expressed interest in negotiating a trade for Russell Westbrook, who views the possibility of playing in Miami as appealing, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

A report earlier on Monday indicated that the Thunder are receptive to trade inquiries for Westbrook in the aftermath of the blockbuster deal sending Paul George to the Clippers.

The Heat made a bold move in free agency by gaining a commitment from Jimmy Butler and engineering a sign-and-trade for the swingman. A Westbrook/Butler pairing could make Miami an instant contender in the wide open Eastern Conference, though contractually it would have long-term implications.

Westbrook, 30, has four years and $171MM remaining on his contract, including a $47MM player option in the final year. Moving Westbrook’s contract for future salary-cap relief might be the best Oklahoma City can do at this point.

Miami has already traded away its 2021 and 2023 first-rounders – which the Thunder own – and numerous second-rounders.

Westbrook will make $38.5MM next season but Miami has a handful of players making between $19.2MM and $12MM — Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk — for salary-matching purposes.

Miami also has to make sure it doesn’t add more salary to its current cap. The Heat are just $986K below the threshold of the $138.9MM luxury tax apron, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Thus, Miami cannot take back more or equal salaries in a potential Westbrook trade because that would hamstring its ability to fill out the roster (Twitter link).

Westbrook and agent Thad Foucher met with Thunder general manager Sam Presti over the weekend and both sides came away eager to find a resolution, according to Wojnarowski. Westbrook doesn’t want to be part of rebuild and that’s where OKC finds itself after George’s trade request to join forces with Kawhi Leonard.

Heat Notes: Riley, Whiteside, Dragic, Haslem

Heat president Pat Riley spoke about the state of the Heat recently, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald passes along some of the more relevant take-aways from Riley’s comments.

Despite Justice Winslow‘s success running the point while Goran Dragic was injured last season, Riley expects Dragic to be the team’s starting point guard for the 2019/20 season. Riley also expects both Dion Waiters and James Johnson to come back strong from injuries and play a significant role.

Regarding first-round pick Tyler Herro, Riley said that the 19-year-old guard “has proven in his short time at Kentucky that he’s not only a great shooter, but he’s a competitor, he’s tough, and he can defend. We’re very excited to have him.”

Riley declined to comment on the 32nd overall pick KZ Okpala, as his rights are still owned by the Pacers. He likewise declined to speak about Bol Bol, as his rights are being traded to the Nuggets.

There’s more out of Miami this afternoon from Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel:

  • Cap-strapped after both Hassan Whiteside  and Dragic opted into their player options for the 2019/20 season, the Heat are in somewhat of a holding pattern until they are able to clear those two off their books in the summer of 2020. For now, Pat Riley seems keen on encouraging Heat fans to root their young team on towards a playoff berth next season (link).
  • The Heat are likely to carry 14 players on their roster during the 2019/20 season in order to avoid the luxury tax, but will Udonis Haslem be that 14th-man (link)? It’s a possibility, and Haslem has said that his family with play a primary role in his retirement decision.
  • The conundrum the Heat face with Whiteside next season is that while he may have the chance to stay healthy and rediscover his game, how does that help Miami if they’re not a championship contender (link)? Whiteside’s contract ends after the 2019/20 season, and if the Heat are serious about developing their young core, Whiteside doesn’t really have a place on the roster past this season, so letting him stuff the stat sheet on a mediocre team for one season really does the Heat no good.

Heat Notes: Draft, Ellington, Langford

Should the Heat enter the sweepstakes for the No. 4 overall pick? Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes it depends on the cost.

The scribe isn’t a fan of the team sending away Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, or Bam Adebayo in a deal, though if a trade was structured around one of their player-friendly contracts, such as Dion Waiters or James Johnson, an additional player and the No. 13, moving up would make more sense.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat could use Wayne Ellington back, but luxury tax concerns may put him out of the team’s price range, Winderman notes in the same piece. Miami began last season with great depth in the backcourt but that’s no longer the case after the team sent Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and Tyler Johnson away and watched Dwyane Wade retire.
  • Romeo Langford (Indiana) met with the Heat today, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Langford’s busy day also includes a meeting with the Pelicans. He has previously visited Cleveland, Atlanta, and Minnesota.
  • The Heat also worked out Sekou Doumbouya (France), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Doumbouya is expected to go in the lottery.

Heat Notes: Team Needs, No. 13, Waiters

The Heat should be interested in acquiring wing players with length, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. The team’s current starting small forward, Josh Richardson, is listed at 6’6″ and in today’s NBA, that’s considered short for the position.

“The switch-ability is key,”an Eastern Conference scout tells Winderman. “That is critical, especially for the three-four. People, when they think about that, he’s going to guard threes, but can he guard fours?

“Players at the three…they tend to merge either way, either closer to fours or as wings. People do not talk about pure threes anymore.”

Here’s more from Miami:

  • In a separate piece, Winderman wonders if Oregon’s Bol Bol is worth the gamble for Miami. The Heat own the No. 13 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
  • The Heat could use the No. 13 overall pick to offload some payroll from the roster, Winderman hears (in an additional piece). Dion Waiters, who has been speculated as a trade target of the Warriors, and James Johnson stand as two possible candidates to be moved.
  • Conditioning was an issue for Waiters this past season, Winderman notes. Coach Eric Spoelstra touched on it at the end of the season. “When he gets in optimal shape, he’s going to also be able to get to the basket when he needs to,” Spoelstra said. “He was still able to do that at times, not consistently enough during the course of a game and through contact and through fatigue.”

Heat Notes: Haslem, Johnson, Waiters, Anderson, Allen

Veteran big man Udonis Haslem is training hard three or four days a week with the intensity of someone who wants to play next season, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

While his longtime teammate Dwyane Wade called it a career at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, Haslem remains undecided on his future. He said during the season that he was leaning toward playing another year, and based on Jackson’s latest report, it sounds like that scenario remains very much in play.

Haslem doesn’t have a contract for next season, but the Heat have shown in recent years that they’re willing to keep bringing him back on one-year, minimum-salary contracts, despite the fact that he no longer sees much playing time for the club.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • James Johnson and Dion Waiters are considered available on the trade market this offseason, according to Barry Jackson. While I expect a number of Heat veterans to be “available” in trade talks, it’s telling that Johnson and Waiters are the ones specifically mentioned by Jackson. They both have multiple years left on their contracts, which indicates that the Heat may be looking to carve out more cap room for 2020 in addition to gaining extra flexibility in 2019.
  • Jackson writes that the Heat are expected to buy out Ryan Anderson before July 10, when his salary for 2019/20 would become fully guaranteed. While Jackson’s wording suggests that the Heat might ask Anderson to give up a little salary, the team likely wouldn’t push too hard for that, since the veteran sharpshooter previously agreed to reduce his guarantee for next season.
  • The Heat are expected to hire Malik Allen as an assistant coach on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Allen, who began his NBA playing career with the Heat, would fill the position that opened up when Juwan Howard left for Michigan.
  • I previewed the Heat’s offseason earlier today.

Heat Notes: Conley, Nunn, Dragic

The Mike Conley-to-the-Heat talk is just that at the moment. It’s strictly speculation, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, though the scribe wonders if there’s a potential deal that makes sense for both Miami and Memphis.

Matching salary would be easy if Hassan Whiteside opts in and the Grizzlies are willing to take back the center as a main pillar of the trade. However, what would Miami have to add as an incentive for Memphis to make the move? The Grizzlies would get out of Conley’s contract, which runs through the 2020/21 season, though the franchise would undoubtedly want more than just cost savings if they deal their long-time point guard.

The Heat are not in a position to trade away their first-rounder this year (No. 13 overall), having given away their 2021 selection in the Goran Dragic deal. The organization could offer Dragic (assuming he opts in) in place of Whiteside, but that kind of deal doesn’t really move the needle for Miami.

Then there are the financial repercussions for Miami in taking back Conley. He’ll collect approximately $32.5MM and $34.5MM in each of the next two seasons (Conley has an ETO on the 2020/21 season, but it would be shocking if he opts out). As it currently stands, the Heat’s first shot at sizeable cap space is prior to the 2020/21 season and trading for Memphis’ point guard would delay that eureka moment by an entire calendar year.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Kendrick Nunn is guaranteed $50K if he’s on the roster come July 1 and Winderman contends (in the same piece) that Nunn’s future with the Heat could be tied to the team’s draft. If Miami acquires a second-round pick—Minnesota owns their 2019 selection—then Nunn’s spot on the team may be in jeopardy.
  • A source close to Dragic would be “very surprised” if the point guard opts to hit the free agent market this summer, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Dragic likes playing for the Heat, though the decision could come down to whether his camp gets the sense that a long-term lucrative deal awaits him this offseason.
  • The Heat are operating under the assumption that both Whiteside and Dragic will opt into their respective deals for next season, Winderman writes in a separate piece. Whiteside’s player option for 2019/20 is worth approximately $27.1MM while Dragic’s comes in at roughly $19.2MM.
  • Patience with Dion Waiters and James Johnson was wearing thin during the 2018/19 campaign, Winderman adds in the same article. Both players have had injury woes throughout their respective contract with the Heat, though Winderman writes that it doesn’t mean there isn’t an “avenue for redemption” next season. Each players’ contract runs through the 2020/21 season, though Johnson’s pact contains a player option on that final season.

Pat Riley Speaks On State Of Heat

James Johnson and Dion Waiters would be entering free agency if things had gone differently for the Heat in the summer of 2017, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

At a press conference today, team president Pat Riley said he would have signed both players for two seasons instead of four if Miami had been able to land free agent targets Kevin Durant or Gordon Hayward. Once Durant picked the Warriors and Hayward signed with the Celtics, Riley agreed to longer contracts with both Johnson and Waiters.

“On July 1, I didn’t want to be left with nobody,” he said. “After five days of Gordon having to make a decision, I didn’t want to lose some players we had. I do know James had a deal [elsewhere if Miami didn’t sign him]. It was my decision. I didn’t want to lose all three of them.”

That decision left the Heat with two more expensive contracts that could help push the team $35MM above the cap next season, assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic both opt in.

“We weren’t thinking of room after we lost Kevin Durant and Hayward,” Riley said. “We were thinking we had that 30-11 team come back [Miami’s record in the second half of the 2016/17 season]. We thought the contracts we gave were long-term contracts. That’s on me. You can put that all on me. We didn’t land Hayward and I didn’t want [to lose] the other two guys.”

Riley covered a wealth of topics during today’s session with the media. Here are a few, courtesy of Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald:

  • Even if the Lakers were to make an offer, Riley won’t consider going to L.A. to take over for Magic Johnson. “There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team,” he said. “I have a lot of friends inside the organization. … But I’m not going to be a part of that.”
  • Riley wants coach Erik Spoelstra to find ways to get Whiteside and Bam Adebayo on the court at the same time. Despite being Miami’s highest-paid player, Whiteside averaged just 17 minutes per night over the final 19 games.
  • Riley said Waiters was slowed all season after ankle surgery and was “playing this year on 1 1/2 ankles.” He added that conditioning will be vital for Waiters next season. “I talked to him yesterday,” Riley said. “He knows. He has five months. If he gets his conditioning to world class condition, he can get back [to where he was for 25 excellent games two years ago]. I’m confident he will do it. His career is on the line.”
  • No matter what happens, tanking won’t be part of the Heat’s plans, Riley insists, noting how hard it is to fall into the bottom five in the league.
  • Riley encourages Udonis Haslem to take some time to decide whether he wants to return next season. Haslem has barely played over the past three years, but the Heat are willing to give him a roster spot for the veteran leadership he provides.
  • Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten, who were both signed through 2020/21 in the closing days of the season, may have a future with the team. “I give Duncan and Yante As,” Riley said. “They dominated the [G-League] the way you want them to dominate. That was the best team in the league for a while. We think both of them can develop and you don’t know how far they can go.”
  • Unless they get lucky in the lottery, the Heat will have the 13th pick in the draft, but Riley is optimistic they can find a contributor there. “I am not going to name names, but I’ve seen 30 players that are very good players,” he said. “At 13, I do think we would get something equivalent to who we have on our team right now, Bam, Justise [Winslow], Josh [Richardson] and Derrick Jones Jr.
  • Riley called Dwyane Wade‘s final season “pure love” as the Heat said goodbye to their all-time leading scorer.