Goran Dragic

Eight Heat Players Unavailable Due To COVID-19 Protocols

3:58pm: In addition to Bradley, the Heat will be without the following players for Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Reynolds (Twitter link): Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, Kendrick Nunn, Maurice Harkless, Udonis Haslem, and KZ Okpala.

That would leave the team with nine available players, assuming everyone else is healthy. Meyers Leonard (shoulder) is currently listed as questionable, while Kelly Olynyk (groin) and Gabe Vincent (knee) are probable, Reynolds notes (via Twitter).

2:14pm: The Heat are preparing to be without “at least five” players for the next several days due to possible exposure to the coronavirus, reports Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Miami didn’t have the required minimum of eight players available on Sunday due to an inconclusive COVID-19 test and subsequent contact tracing, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. As a result, the team’s scheduled game in Boston was postponed. Subsequently, the Heat spent Sunday and Monday awaiting the results of the NBA’s contact tracing investigation to find out which players may be required to self-isolate for the next week, says Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

According to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Heat are arranging for the players who need to self-isolate due to contact tracing to fly back to Miami on a private plane. The player who tested positive for COVID-19 will be sequestered in a hotel, while the rest of the team flies to Philadelphia in anticipation of playing vs. the Sixers.

Based on Winderman’s report, it sounds like the Heat expect to have enough players to resume their schedule on Tuesday vs. Philadelphia, though we don’t know yet who will and won’t be available. Avery Bradley‘s absence due to the league’s health and safety protocols was the only one reported on Sunday — all signs point to Bradley being the player who tested positive for the coronavirus, Winderman notes, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hayward, Robinson, Dragic

The Wizards have opened the 2020/21 season with three straight losses — the most recent coming on Sunday against the Magic — despite leading by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Washington played without Russell Westbrook (rest) on the second night of its back-to-back, losing 120-113.

“You don’t go from 17 points, damn near 20 points, to losing the damn game,” Bradley Beal said, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “That’s unacceptable on all fronts.”

Beal played well in the team’s first game against Orlando on Saturday, scoring 39 points on 14-of-24 shooting, though he shot just 10-of-29 on Sunday. As a whole, the team allowed 250 points during the two contests (an average of 125 per game).

“If it’s a three-game season, we didn’t have a very good year,” coach Scott Brooks acknowledged, working to remain positive. “But we’ve still got 69 games left. We’ve gotta keep fighting.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Hornets veteran Gordon Hayward demonstrated that he can help the team in a variety of ways on Sunday, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Hayward, who joined the Hornets on a four-year, $120MM deal in free agency, carried the load offensively against Brooklyn. The 30-year-old recorded 28 points, six rebounds and seven assists, helping secure a 106-104 victory.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel explores the impending restricted free agency of Heat guard Duncan Robinson, noting that several teams have prioritized re-signing their sharpshooters in recent years (ex. Joe Harris with Brooklyn, or Davis Bertans with Washington). Robinson has established himself as one of the league’s top shooters, sinking seven threes in Miami’s game against New Orleans on Christmas Day, and Winderman believes the Heat are very likely to lock him up in 2021.
  • Goran Dragic has thrived off the bench for the Heat, proving his worth as a quality back-up ball-handler for the club, Winderman writes in a separate story for the Sun Sentinel. Dragic appears to be comfortable with starting or coming off the bench, a positive sign for a team that hasn’t finalized its starting lineup yet. “He’s a decorated veteran,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Dragic. “He keeps himself in great shape, at a high fitness level. So it’s really about getting your basketball rhythm. That’s a great lesson to any young player. As long as you’re not woefully out of shape during the offseason, you can get it back with experience pretty quickly.”

Southeast Notes: Heat, Herro, Magic, Hornets

The next phase in the development of Heat All-Star center Bam Adebayo could be improving his shot creation, and veteran point guard Goran Dragic should still have a huge role for the club even as he returns to the super-sub role he had ahead of the Heat’s Finals run this summer and fall, per Seth Partnow and Dave DuFour of the Athletic.

Partnow and DuFour also wonder whether the 34-year-old Dragic’s incredible run during the 2020 Orlando restart, including a scorching playoff tear, was a blip on the radar or can be replicated this season.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Tyler Herro has supplanted Dragic as the Heat’s starting point guard in his second season, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald details. Dragic started at the point for most of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
  • Newly-extended Magic players Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac are excited for their opportunity to contribute to Orlando’s growth as a club, per Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel“Not everybody gets extended, and to be a part of this group… and to be with this organization, it means everything to me,” Isaac said. “I love the coaching staff. I love the team. I love that they have belief in me, and they have it because I have belief in myself.” Isaac is expected to miss the entire 2020/21 season with a torn left ACL.
  • The Hornets will be forced to scramble a bit after losing starting center Cody Zeller for four-to-six weeks with a fractured left hand, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. While Bismack Biyombo will probably get the nod as Zeller’s replacement at the five, Bonnell expects head coach James Borrego to lean more on small-ball lineups that would feature 6’7″ forward P.J. Washington at center and Miles Bridges at power forward.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Bamba, Hawks, Rondo

If the Heat opt to insert center Meyers Leonard back into their starting lineup – where he spent most of last season – alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, it would leave just two slots in the starting five available for Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, and Avery Bradley, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Dragic did well coming off the bench last season before joining the starters in the playoffs. However, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said he hasn’t talked to the veteran point guard yet about whether or not he’ll start. Spoelstra, who pointed out that the opening night lineup wouldn’t necessarily be permanent, is confident that Dragic would be willing to accept any role.

“We’ve been in this a long time together,” the Heat coach said. “It’s great to have guys who are all about winning.”

For his part, Dragic recently said that if Spoelstra asks himself to come off the bench again, it’ll be easier to adjust to this time around, since he now has a year of experience as a Heat reserve under his belt.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Heat Notes: Frontcourt, FAs, Achiuwa, Dragic, Olynyk

Based on their offseason moves, the Heat certainly don’t appear to be focusing on playing any smaller during the 2020/21 season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

As Winderman observes, the club drafted Precious Achiuwa with its first-round pick, re-signed Meyers Leonard and Udonis Haslem, extended Bam Adebayo, and didn’t trade Kelly Olynyk after he picked up his player option. Chris Silva is also back on a guaranteed salary, with undrafted free agent Paul Eboua vying for a two-way contract.

“I feel like it’ll work because we brought back a lot of skilled big men,” Adebayo said on Sunday. “All of us are versatile. When you got bigs that are versatile, that can help the team and help the guards do different things, it just makes our team better. … Then you have two of us out there on the court at the same time, it’s a big difference. I feel like us being so versatile at the big spot is going to help us out a lot this year.”

Despite the Heat’s size up front, the team is confident it’ll be able to comfortably adjust against any team playing small ball.

“Just because some of us are big men doesn’t necessarily mean we’re put in a box and, ‘Oh, man, if a team goes small, there’s nothing we can do about it,'” Leonard said. “No, no, we still have plenty of athleticism, plenty of versatility at the big position and all the way throughout our roster.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Discussing the Heat’s new free agent additions, head coach Erik Spoelstra referred to Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless as “plug-and-play guys” and said the team has been fans of both players “for a while,” as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. “The way they play, they can fit in really in anybody’s system,” Spoelstra said of the two veteran wings.
  • Within that same Herald story, Spoelstra explained that Precious Achiuwa‘s improvement over the course of his freshman year at Memphis and a belief that his game will translate to the next level were factors in the Heat’s decision to draft him at No. 20. “His athleticism, his quickness, his fluidity, his ability to play multiple positions jumped off the screen,” Spoelstra added, per Chiang.
  • After beginning individual workouts last week, Heat point guard Goran Dragic was encouraged by how his left foot felt. A torn plantar fascia in that foot sidelined Dragic during the NBA Finals. “I just finished three straight hard practices, running, shooting,” he said, according to Chiang. “My foot reacted well, no pain, nothing. Just a little bit of stiffness in the morning and that’s it.”
  • While a $12.6MM guarantee was likely a major factor, Kelly Olynyk said this weekend that a desire for continuity following a short offseason also contributed to his decision to exercise his 2020/21 player option. “The way the league is going and the new season just jumped upon us, it just made sense to come back here to a familiar place and continue what we had,” Olynyk said, per Khobi Price of The Sun Sentinel.

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Bryant, Wall, Heat

The Hornets made one of the biggest and most controversial splashes in free agency, signing injury-prone forward Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM contract. Due to injuries and the development of his Boston teammates, Hayward was never able to return to his All-Star form while with the Celtics.

Although the Hornets’ $120MM commitment to Hayward is widely viewed as an overpay, it didn’t come out of left field. In today’s edition of The Lowe Post podcast, Zach Lowe of ESPN suggests that the Hornets’ offer to Hayward was not significantly higher than that of some competing clubs hoping for his services in free agency.

“You want to clown the contract?” Lowe said (per RealGM). “That’s fine. Just know it’s not like the Pacers and the Celtics were offering $80MM. They weren’t offering $120MM. But my best intel is something like $105MM, $108MM, $102MM, $110MM.”

Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines Hayward’s fit with the Hornets, conceding that the deal is probably an overpay. However, he also contends that Hayward can supply veteran leadership to the Hornets’ young core while being by far their best player, if healthy. Hayward will be leaned on to supply multifaceted scoring and is an expert play-maker. He also will be able to convincingly slot into the lineup at small forward, power forward, and even shooting guard.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said today that the team informed every center it spoke to in free agency that Thomas Bryant would remain the Wizards’ starter, according to Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). “Certainly probably rubbed some guys the wrong way who thought they could come in here and start,” Sheppard said. The club ultimately signed Robin Lopez to back up Bryant.
  • Beyond the churning NBA rumor mill, Wizards point guard John Wall has remained active during the offseason. Wall will purchase an ownership stake in the Australian NBL club the South East Melbourne Phoenix, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Los Angeles entrepreneur Romie Chaudhari heads the ownership group for the Phoenix, which also includes and Cavaliers reserve guard Dante Exum, plus retired big men Zach Randolph and Al Harrington and retired swingman Josh Childress.
  • Point guard Goran Dragic and backup center Meyers Leonard are excited to return to the Heat, according to Joe Beguiristain of Heat.com. Miami prioritized re-signing both players to lucrative two-year contracts with team options for the second year. “When free agency hit, we pretty much made our quick deal,” Dragic commented. “First of all, it felt like there was unfinished business for our team and for me because, obviously, going through the ankle injury was not easy, and I feel like I could have helped in many different ways,” Leonard said.

Heat Re-Sign Goran Dragic

NOVEMBER 22: The first free agent to reach a deal on Friday has now officially signed his new contract, as the Heat issued a press release confirming Dragic’s deal.

“It was essential for us to bring Goran back,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “He is part of our team, part of our culture and part of our family. He provides backcourt veteran leadership and can still play at a very high level. I’m glad to have him back in the fold.”

NOVEMBER 20: The Heat are re-signing free agent point guard Goran Dragic, he announced on social media today. The deal is a two-year agreement with a team option in the second season, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press tweets.

Shams Charania of The Athletic adds (via Twitter) that the agreement is worth $37.4MM, while Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald reports that the deal will pay Dragic $18MM in 2020-21 and $19.5MM in 2020-21.

Dragic, 34, will enter his seventh campaign with the Heat. He was originally acquired via trade back in 2015, mostly serving as starting point guard ever since.

Dragic was a key cog in Miami’s postseason run this year, averaging 19.1 points and 4.4 assists per game. He also shot 44% from the field and 35% from behind-the-arc during those games, proving his worth as a veteran piece on the court and off.

The Heat also agreed to re-sign Meyers Leonard early in free agency. Miami strategically included team options in both players’ deals, working to preserve salary-cap space for the summer of 2021.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Goran Dragic Will Explore Market In Free Agency

Goran Dragic would like to return to the Heat, but tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link) he plans to listen to other offers when free agency starts Friday.

The veteran point guard was used mainly as a reserve last season, but moved into the starting lineup for the playoffs and played a huge role in helping Miami reach the NBA Finals. He averaged 19.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in the postseason, showing he still has some value left at age 34.

“For me, the most important thing is that I be respected because I put a lot of hard work in my game, and I think I play hard,” Dragic told Charania. “So, of course, I know Miami wants to bring me back. I’m hoping we can finish this championship run next season, but I know this is part of the business. It’s a lot of options here and we’ll see. I’m open to all suggestions, and from there on, we’re gonna see which one is the best possibility for me and for my family. So, yeah, Miami’s up there. They were great to me and we’ll see. Hopefully, we can make a deal.”

If Dragic wants to remain with the Heat, he may have to accept a one-year contract. Miami is trying to preserve cap space for next summer’s free agent class and is expected to be in the running for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo if he becomes available. Dragic earned $19.2MM last season in the final year of a five-year extension.

Also in the interview, Dragic discusses his adjustment to being a sixth man during the season and says he has fully recovered from the plantar fascia tear that sidelined him during the NBA Finals.

Lowe’s Latest: Beal, Celtics, Culver, Heat, Gordon, More

Teams with interest in Bradley Beal haven’t given up hope that the Wizards will consider trading him this fall, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN, who notes that multiple “strong playoff teams” have looked into what it would take to acquire a top-10 pick and may be seeking extra assets to swing a big trade for someone like Beal.

However, the Wizards have shown zero interest in trading Beal, even for the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, sources tell ESPN. The Timberwolves (No. 1) and Warriors (No. 2) are both known to be hoping to trade their selections for an All-NBA caliber player like Beal (or Ben Simmons or Devin Booker), but it seems unlikely that such a deal will materialize, says Lowe.

For the Wizards to really consider the idea of moving Beal, he may have to tell the team he would prefer to play elsewhere, per Lowe. Perhaps that will happen down the road if Washington doesn’t bounce back from a second consecutive lottery finish, but it hasn’t to this point.

Here’s much more from Lowe:

  • Lowe confirms the Celtics have explored using their three first-round picks to trade up in the draft, but says Boston is considering a number of options with those picks, including trying to trade for a “solid veteran.” Since so many teams are in win-now mode, there aren’t many of those players available, according to Lowe, who says that Larry Nance Jr. and Dennis Schröder are among the players who could be under-the-radar targets for teams looking to upgrade their rotations.
  • Jarrett Culver‘s name has popped up in trade rumors, but Lowe thinks the Timberwolves would only move him in a package for a star, or for a draft pick that would help acquire a star. Lowe adds that he thinks Minnesota will dangle the No. 17 pick and James Johnson‘s expiring contract in search of a veteran contributor.
  • While Lowe thinks the Heat should be able to re-sign Goran Dragic on a big one-year deal, he expects it to be tougher for Miami to take the same approach with Jae Crowder, who will likely receive multiyear offers in the mid-level range.
  • Rival executives have pitched the idea of the Mavericks acquiring Rudy Gobert from the Jazz, but Lowe is skeptical there will be a match there and believes Dallas will have a tough time acquiring a third star via trade this offseason.
  • It’s unclear what sort of leaguewide interest there is in Magic forward Aaron Gordon. Lowe points to the Trail Blazers as a potential match, but says the two teams have never seriously discussed a swap involving Gordon and CJ McCollum and isn’t sure whether lesser assets like Zach Collins or Anfernee Simons would appeal to Orlando.
  • Lowe’s offseason preview is jam-packed with many more notes and is worth checking out in full. We relayed a number of Lowe’s other most intriguing tidbits in our stories earlier today, including items on the Bucks, Pistons, and Knicks.

Pacific Notes: Ibaka, Holiday, Kings, Lakers

Toronto’s Serge Ibaka would be the ideal free agent addition for the Clippers, but that can only happen if he’s willing to accept a discount to remain with a contending team, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Ibaka is a better-than-average three-point shooter at 38.5% and a strong defender both at the rim and on the perimeter. Buha sees him as an improvement over Montrezl Harrell in spacing the floor, rebounding and on defense.

However, the Clippers are limited to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which is expected to fall between $9MM and $10MM. He’s likely to see better offers, but Ibaka has played on winning teams for nearly his entire career and may value the chance to contend for a title in L.A.

If the Clippers can’t land Ibaka, Buha sees Miami’s Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder as alternatives. Dragic is masterful on the pick-and-roll and capable of scoring in a variety of ways. Crowder could be a replacement for Marcus Morris if the veteran wing doesn’t re-sign.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • With the Pelicans talking about trading Jrue Holiday, Anthony Slater of The Athletic examines whether he makes sense for the three Pacific teams expected to be in the title hunt. Holiday would give the Clippers a secondary playmaker next to Kawhi Leonard, a need that became obvious in the playoffs, and would be part of a dangerous defensive unit alongside Leonard and Paul George. However, the Clippers are low on assets after last summer’s trade to acquire George. The Lakers are in the same position in the wake of the Anthony Davis deal. They can offer Kyle Kuzma or Alex Caruso, but Slater notes that executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin passed on both players last year. The Warriors have the No. 2 pick in the draft, but matching salaries for Holiday would be difficult, assuming the Pelicans don’t want to take back Andrew Wiggins or Draymond Green.
  • Although Richaun Holmes is coming off a breakthrough year, the Kings might consider drafting a center, especially if USC’s Onyeka Okongwu is still available at No. 12, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic. Okongwu can defend on the perimeter and runs the floor, which Jones says are qualities the Kings like in their big men.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype examines how the Lakers can keep their best free agents and still add a significant piece with the MLE without going over the tax apron.