Dwyane Wade

Latest On LeBron James’ Future

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert cannot offer LeBron James a stake in the franchise in an effort to retain his services, Michael McCann and Jon Wortheim of Sports Illustrated point out. The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits players from holding direct or indirect interest in the ownership of a team, thus the NBA would not approve a contract with any type of ownership provision, the story continues. The league has also been vigilant in preventing players and owners from intermingling their business interests, the SI duo notes. James can opt out of his contract or try to force a trade to a desired destination this summer.

Here’s some other interesting notes regarding the possibility of James playing elsewhere next season:

  • The Rockets would need to either gut their roster or make a trade with the Cavaliers to add James, but the latter option is complicated by the team’s roster composition, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. The Cavaliers would likely want quality young talent to kick-start a rebuild in any James trade and the Rockets don’t have enough of those players while trying to match up salaries to absorb James’ $35MM contract, Feigen adds. The most desirable option for the Rockets is to dump Ryan Anderson‘s contract ($20.4MM next season and $21.3 MM in 2019/20) on a team with ample cap room, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN. But Houston probably doesn’t have enough first-round picks to package with Anderson to get a third party to bite, Pelton adds.
  • There are major obstacles to any possible pursuit of James’ services by the Celtics, DJ Bean of NBCSports.com notes. It’s highly unlikely that Boston would include Gordon Hayward in any deal, considering the high-level free agent chose Boston last summer and hasn’t even played a full game with the franchise, Bean continues. There’s also the sticky problem of trying to reunite James with Kyrie Irving, who asked out of Cleveland last summer. Acquiring James now would likely damage the team’s long-term prospects for being the dominant team in the league, given the assets they’d likely have to trade, Bean adds. Logically, the only big contract the Celtics would be willing to move is Al Horford‘s deal, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
  • James’ decision will have more to do with his family than basketball, former teammate Dwyane Wade predicts, as Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald writes. “I don’t really think for him the basketball decision is ‘Oh, let me go team up with three All-Stars.’ I think at this point in his life it’s more so of a lifestyle thing,” Wade said. “Where is my family going to be the most comfortable at? Where am I going to be the happiest at? Because basketball-wise he’s so great, he can take along whoever.”
  • The Lakers and Sixers are the favorites to land James while the Cavs are just a 5-1 shot to retain him, according to Bovada sports book, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. The odds rundown can be found here.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wade, Simons

If the Hornets are going to turn the fate of their franchise around, they’ll have to improve how they handle lottery picks. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes that only one of their seven different top-11 picks since 2011 has been an All-Star.

Bonnell breaks down ex-general manager Rich Cho‘s underwhelming draft portfolio noting that beyond Walker, only one of the remaining six players they’ve drafted in the top-11 has even gone on to be a consistent starter (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).

To Cho’s credit, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk can all be valuable rotation pieces for the foreseeable future but it’s hard to justify the selections of Bismack Biyombo and Noah Vonleh.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Pending free agent Dwyane Wade has not decided if he’s going to retire or not. If he returns, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets, he’d want to return with the Heat.
  • Not surprisingly, Anfernee Simons was particularly excited to work out for the Magic, the franchise with whom his namesake made his mark. John Denton of the team’s official site writes about the Florida native’s connection to the team and his decision to enter the draft directly out of prep school.
  • It’s official, the Hawks have made Melvin Hunt, Chris Jent, Greg Foster, Marlon Garnett and Matt Hill assistant coaches under new head coach Lloyd Pierce, the team announced on its website.

Southeast Notes: Chalmers, Magic, Foster, Hawks

Free agents and former Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers have been working out together in Miami, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. They were Miami’s starting backcourt during its championship runs in 2012 and 2013. Wade finished last season with the Heat, while Chalmers played for the Grizzlies. They have been working out at DBC Fitness, a Miami gym run by David Alexander, one of LeBron James trainers, Winderman notes.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • New Magic coach Steve Clifford is bringing in two of his former Hornets assistants in Pat Delany and Steve Hetzel, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Both worked under Clifford the past four seasons. New Knicks coach David Fizdale was interested in bringing on Delany to his staff, Stein adds.
  • Greg Foster will join the staff of new Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. Foster had been an assistant with the Bucks since 2014.
  • Georgia forward Yante Maten is among the draft prospects the Hawks will work out on Tuesday, according to a team release. Elijah Stewart (USC), Isaiah Wilkins (Virginia), Melvin Frazier (Tulane), Elijah Brown (Oregon) and Trevon Bluiett (Xavier) are also scheduled to visit.

Pat Riley Talks Roster, Whiteside, Wade, Ellington

Addressing reporters at his end-of-season press conference on Monday, Heat president Pat Riley said he and the team’s front office will continue to work on improving the roster this summer, adding that he’d not bothered by a relative lack of cap flexibility heading into the offseason.

“We’re not going to stop and it doesn’t make any difference how we do it,” Riley said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. “Whether you’re a room team, whether you’re capped out, whether you’ve got a lot of guys under contract, whether you’re limited with your picks, you keep working toward your goal. That’s what we’re going to do. How we’re going to do it is irrelevant.”

While Riley said the Heat would like to keep their “core guys” together and give that group more help, he acknowledged that he’ll be open to virtually any avenue that could make the team better, confirming that no one on the roster is untouchable.

“Right now we have a bunch of guys that can still get better,” Riley said. “While internal improvement and development is a huge part of our organization, going outside and looking around, now is the opportunity to have those conversations — trying to find a transformative player, maybe, is probably what our challenge is going to be.”

Here’s more from Riley on the Heat, via Navarro and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald:

  • Riley stated that Hassan Whiteside had “a bad year” in 2017/18, but he believes in the young center’s ability to bounce back next season, suggesting that Whiteside and head coach Erik Spoelstra need to get on the same page for that to happen. “I still think and believe Hassan can anchor in spite of what a lot of people believe,” Riley said.
  • Riley recently spoke to Dwyane Wade, but didn’t broach the subject of retirement. “I don’t like to talk to a player about retirement because when start talking to a player about retirement, guess what? He retires,” Riley said. “So I don’t want to talk to he or UD (Udonis Haslem) about retirement because I think both players are still in great shape. They both can play.”
  • There’s “no doubt” that the Heat want to re-sign Wayne Ellington, according to Riley. However, the team president admitted that it’ll be tricky to do so without going into tax territory. “If we signed Wayne, OK, next year and he takes us into the tax, then that guy right over there (GM Andy Elisburg) has 15 months to get us out,” Riley said.
  • Riley isn’t bothered by not having a first-round pick in this year’s draft, noting that he’s “not a draft pick guy” and feels like the Heat only really need a first-rounder once every two years. “We hope one of the guys we really like that we can sign on July 1 might be tantamount to a first-round pick this year,” Riley said. He also observed that when Miami can acquire a player like Goran Dragic using mid-first-rounders like this year’s (No. 16 overall), he’d “much rather have” the Dragic-type veteran than the rookie.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Miami Heat

The Heat doubled down on a committee of above-average role players last summer and have leveraged their depth into unexpected success after a dismal 2016. With an elite head coach and an established culture of winning, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra have no reason to believe that they can’t continue to field a winner so long as they’re willing to invest in solid players.

The downside of a team built in this fashion, however, is that it lacks the ceiling to be truly dangerous in the postseason and the financial flexibility to change that. Not helping matters, of course, is the fact that the Heat’s highest paid player, Hassan Whiteside, could barely get off the bench in the club’s most recent first-round playoff exit.

The Heat are on pace to cross the luxury tax threshold in 2017/18 thanks to dramatic escalations in the contracts of players like Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, making it inevitable that a dramatic roster move is forthcoming.

Is the on-court product good enough to justify the luxury tax expenses? Not likely, so all that’s left is for the franchise decide what direction to go when the dominoes start falling.

Luke Babbitt, SF, 29 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Heat brought Babbit aboard in a minor deal at the deadline and it wasn’t hard to understand why. The career 40.2% three-point shooter is an attractive niche add and he shot 44.1% on threes through the first half of the season with the Hawks. Unfortunately, he didn’t make enough of a splash in an inconsequential stint with Miami to warrant major interest from the franchise this summer. Babbit will have suitors as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and could end up plucked by a team able to invest slightly more.

Wayne Ellington, SG, 30 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2016"<strong
Ellington represents this Heat roster as well as anybody — he’s a reliable veteran that can consistently get the job done. In the hands of the right coach and surrounded by the right players, that’s invaluable. If the Heat decide to continue pushing to contend in the East, it would make sense to retain Ellington for a few more years as a solid rotation piece. That being said, simply bringing back Ellington is no small feat considering the luxury tax implications of such an investment. If the Heat suspect their window is closing, all parties might be better off if the nine-year vet latches on with another contender elsewhere.

Udonis Haslem, C, 38 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
The Heat don’t have to worry about long-time big man Haslem testing the waters anywhere other than South Beach, the question is whether or not the 15-year veteran will opt instead for retirement. Haslem seems to have enough in the tank to continue playing in his drastically reduced role and, despite the luxury tax implications making even a minimum deal painful for ownership, there’s no reason to believe the franchise wouldn’t be happy to have him.

Jordan Mickey, PF, 23 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $5MM deal in 2015
Despite cracking the team’s rotation for a few weeks last December, Mickey didn’t make much of an impact with the Heat during his first season in Miami. One thing that the young big man does have going for him, however, is that his team option is for a modest $1.6MM. At a time when the franchise will be hard-pressed to fill out its 15-man roster without going into tax territory, cheap deals will be of particular interest.

Dwyane Wade, SG, 36 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
After an awkward season and a half with the Bulls and Cavaliers, Wade returned to Miami. Immediately, the franchise icon fell back into a rhythm and outplayed his minimum contract. If the Heat opt to continue competing in the East, bringing Wade back is practically essential – from a marketing point of view as much any. While he’s more than a simply symbolic figure, he’s not quite a leading man either, so a deal in the same vein as Dirk Nowitzki‘s $5MM annual with team options could be a solid starting point. If Wade is willing to sign another minimum contract, that’d be all the better for the cap-strapped Heat.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.”

Spoelstra Talks Whiteside, Wade, Ellington, More

While there has been a ton of speculation since the end of the Heat’s season earlier this week about Hassan Whiteside‘s future – or lack thereof – in Miami, head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t indulge that speculation today when he met with reporters. As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes, Spoelstra said that he “loves” working with Whiteside. The Heat head coach also downplayed the long-term impact of Whiteside’s minimal role – and underwhelming performance – during the postseason.

“In two weeks, nobody will be talking about that,” Spoelstra said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. “We can go take some time away. Hassan can get his mind off this and in a few weeks we can get back and connect and then start to share our experiences. He’s not the only guy that’s had to go through something like this. His head coach has. And like I said, a lot of players that have come through our system have been through that kind of playoffs. That is the playoffs. There’s going to be heroes. There’s going to people place blame on. None of it is fair. That’s just the way it is, and we can help him through that process.”

Spoelstra didn’t offer many specific details on the Heat’s offseason plans, but did share some thoughts on the future of Dwyane Wade, Wayne Ellington‘s upcoming free agency, and Miami’s ability to evolve into a legit contender, among other topics. Here are a few more of Spoelstra’s end-of-season comments, via Navarro:

On whether Wade will continue his career and return to the Heat:

“When we hugged after the game, I was basically in tears. And I’ll be honest, right now I’m just not emotionally ready to go there or even to have just a normal conversation. I tried to walk by. I said I don’t want to read anything in his eyes. I just said, ‘Hey, let’s both get away. Let’s connect for lunch in a few weeks.’ And we’re leaving it at that right now.”

On the possibility of the Heat re-signing Ellington despite cap constraints:

“First, I know the visions of my boss (team president Pat Riley). Anything in this league, he can get done. So people are saying, ‘Can you contend for a title with this team?’ I know who I work for. And then, secondly, I know the creativity of (general manager) Andy Elisburg. But none of it has to be decided right now. Wayne know that we love him.

“It was a unified symbiotic relationship where I think he really benefited from our culture. We benefited from his commitment to become the player that was transformational — his ability to come off screens. … And he can keep on going. If it means I’ve got to recruit him and tell him he can shoot 20 threes (per game) next year, quote me on that right now.”

On Spoelstra’s belief that the Heat can contend with their current cure:

“I haven’t even talked about it with Pat, but I’m sure he’ll say the same thing. We see progress, we see growth. Expectations do not scare us. What the opinion is on the outside, how rational or irrational people may think we are, we don’t care. We think we have a group that can contend.

“We believe as much as anything, you grow through continuity. It’s hard to start over. You see teams that get a little sick at sea when it gets a little uncomfortable. Our group doesn’t. But we’re also well aware of where we’re trying to get to and how much improvement we need to get to it. Whether that’s all from inside, that’s the only thing I’m focused on right now. We won’t even talk about anything personnel-wise for months. We don’t have to get to that point right now. That’s going to be Pat and Andy’s responsibility. It’s not the first time they’ve been able to build a championship-contending team. So we have great confidence and faith in the full holistic plan.”

Southeast Notes: Batum, Fournier, Heat, Wade

In a mailbag piece for The Charlotte Observer, Rick Bonnell argues that despite the frustration voiced by fans over the contract of Nicolas Batum, who’s still owed $76.7MM in guaranteed money over the next three seasons, the Hornets should not even consider waiving the swingman.

That’s because under the new CBA rules, Batum’s salary would continue counting against the Hornets’ cap even after his release, as there is no longer an amnesty provision incorporated into the new CBA. Moreover, the Hornets had more issues this season than Batum.

Instead, Bonnell suggests that Batum’s contract, although troublesome, is not “untradeable,” and that the Hornets should be able to trade Batum away if they are willing to take on some other bad contracts in return.

And in another article for the Observer, Bonnell opines that Batum doesn’t necessarily need to be traded. Rather, the Hornets’ next head coach should look to resurrect Batum’s game, which may mean letting him handle the ball more as arguably the team’s top ball-mover and facilitator.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After a tough season in which his team finished 25-57 and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, Magic guard Evan Fournier plans on joining his countrymen on the French National Team for the third window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 European Qualifiers, he tells FIBA.
  • In a season-ending piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman gives his thoughts and other information on the 17 players who finished the 2017/18 NBA season as members of the Heat – including two-way players Derrick Walton Jr. and Derrick Jones Jr.
  • In another article for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman compares this upcoming offseason to the summer of 2016, when Dwyane Wade left the Heat for Chicago. Ultimately, Winderman believes that unlike two years ago, it’ll be wholly up to Wade as to whether he wants to play in Miami next season, as long as he’s willing to accept a reasonable contract.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Wade, Ellington

Hassan Whiteside headed into the offseason last night with one last jab at Heat coach Erik Spoelstra over playing time, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Whiteside spent just 10 minutes on the court during the season-ending loss and played 77 total minutes in the five-game series.

“At least give me a chance to fight,” Whiteside said. “I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance. … We played a style of play Coach wanted. He wanted to utilize more spacing I guess in the playoffs, so that’s why he did it.”

Foul trouble played a role in Whiteside’s lack of minutes, Jackson notes, as did matchup concerns with Philadelphia’s smaller lineups, but there’s an apparent feeling from the coaching staff that the Heat are better without Whiteside on the floor. His playing time dropped sharply during the season, going to 25.3 minutes per game after a career high of 32.6 last year.

The 28-year-old center said he will address the matter this summer with Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley. He is under contract for more than $25.4MM next season with a $27.1MM player option for 2019/20, and Jackson states that the Heat are expected to explore trade options.

There’s more from Miami on the first day of the offseason:

  • The Heat are stuck with a roster talented enough to make the playoffs, but not to be a legitimate contender once they get there, Jackson writes in a separate piece. He recommends significant changes, which will have to come through trades because of the team’s cap situation. He says the Heat would prefer to keep Josh Richardson, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, but adds that Riley should give the Spurs their choice of any two players on the roster if Kawhi Leonard becomes available.
  • Dwyane Wade is in no rush to make a decision about another NBA season, according to Andre C. Fernandez of The Miami Herald. The 36-year-old played well after returning to Miami in February, including a 28-point performance in Game 2 of the playoff series. “Fresh off the NBA season, my 15th year, I’ll sit back and think about that,” Wade said after Tuesday’s loss. “Then, I’ll dive and throw myself into my family. They’re next on my bucket list of making sure I’m there for them. Then when it comes to the basketball side of it, which is a long time away from now, then I’ll think about that. But right now I ain’t concerned with it.”
  • Wayne Ellington hopes to return to Miami, but financial realities could make that difficult, notes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. The Heat own Early Bird Rights on Ellington as he heads into free agency, allowing them to offer a four-year contract starting at $10.9MM with raises up to 8%. However, Miami is roughly $15MM over next year’s cap, so some salary may have to be trimmed before it makes that kind of commitment to Ellington.

Heat Notes: Wade, Haslem, Winslow

The Heat will head into the offseason with a bevy of question marks after a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Sixers.

The franchise lacks the flexibility to add top talent with slightly over $116MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2018/19 season. That figure is already over the projected $101MM salary cap and dangerously close to the estimated $123MM luxury tax line.

If Miami is going to make any major changes, it’ll likely come via a trade with Hassan Whiteside coming to mind as a potential trade candidate after the big man was visibly frustrated with his role down the season’s final stretch. The big man is owed approximately $52.4MM over the next two seasons, though he has the option of hitting the market next summer if he so chooses.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade have not made their respective decisions to return to the Heat next season. The pair has long maintained that they’ve wanted to retire together and it’ll be something they discuss this offseason. “We’re going to have a lot of conversations this summer,” Haslam said (via Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald). “So we’ll figure it out.”
  • One of the positives from the Heat’s playoff run is the development of Justise Winslow, as Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel relays. “Justise is doing whatever it takes. This is the moment you want Justise to do well on your team, this is the moment you want him. He’s a guy that has no ego. He’s going to play his heart out,” Wade said.
  • Winslow was fined $15K for stepping on Joel Embiid‘s mask during Game 3, but the Heat never thought the wing’s behavior was a distraction, Winderman passes along in the same piece. “We talked to him about it,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We accept the fine. He accepts it. He’ll pay for it. It doesn’t add a distraction.”