Goran Dragic

Southeast Notes: Beal, Dragic, Reddish

While Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is reluctant to trade Bradley Beal, doing so may represent the team’s quickest path to contention, David Aldridge of The Athletic writes.

Beal is an enormously valuable asset that could net a batch of valuable assets. The Wizards, then, could focus on John Wall‘s rehabilitation in hopes of surrounding him with a strong rotation once he’s healthy.

Aldridge clarifies that the Wizards shouldn’t trade Beal because of any shortcomings, in fact, the opposite. An abundance of teams are clearing space to sign max free agents this summer but there’s only so much top talent to go around.

Beal, as a result, could draw a significant return if the Wizards are willing to leverage the 25-year-old’s excellent 2018/19 campaign.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Goran Dragic Picks Up Player Option

Goran Dragic has picked up his $19.2MM player option for the 2019/20 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Rade Filipovich, Dragic’s agent, said the point guard “wants to stay in Miami forever,” Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets.

Dragic had until June 29 to make a decision, though the Heat have been operating under the assumption that he would make this move. Miami now has roughly $102.6MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2019/20 season.

Rumblings that the Heat are looking for a point guard upgrade didn’t stop Dragic from picking up his option. Dragic is now eligible to be traded.

The Heat originally traded for the veteran point guard at the 2015 trade deadline, giving up four players and pair of picks in the deal. Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams, and Justin Hamilton were all sent to Phoenix — none of those players are on an NBA roster anymore.

The Suns used the 2018 pick they received from the deal to select Zhaire Smith and packaged him along with Miami’s 2021 selection—the other pick Phoenix received from the Dragic deal—to move up and take Mikal Bridges (the Clippers now own Miami’s 2021 selection via the Tobias Harris trade).

Prior to picking up his option, Dragic did not receive any assurances from Pat Riley that the Heat would not trade him, per Jackson (Twitter link). However, Riley also didn’t indicate that trading him was the plan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Howard, Haslem, Whiteside, Dragic

Former NBA stars have a mixed record when taking over their alma maters, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is confident that his assistant, Juwan Howard, will be successful at Michigan, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Howard accepted a five-year deal this morning to coach the Wolverines, who recently lost John Beilein to the Cavaliers.

“Juwan is an absolute star as a person, player and coach,” Spoelstra said. “I feel he is more than ready. He is a terrific leader and mentor, which translates very well to the collegiate level. While we are losing a valuable member of our staff and a great friend, I am happy for him and his family. He will forever be a champion and part of the Heat family and I am excited to see him take the next step.”

Howard has been on the staff in Miami for the past six seasons, and his duties included helping to develop Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo, so the Heat will likely seek a replacement who has experience in working with big men. Jackson notes that the team now only has two assistants, Chris Quinn and Anthony Carter, who have NBA playing experience.

There’s more news from Miami:

  • Although Udonis Haslem would be a logical choice to succeed Howard, he has stated numerous times that he doesn’t want to be a coach, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Haslem, who has spent his entire 16-year career in Miami, has morphed into a virtual assistant coach’s role, playing just 16, 14 and 10 games the past three seasons. “I don’t want to do coaching,” he said last year. “The coaching is not for me.” Haslem also hasn’t announced his retirement and may want to stay on the active roster next season.
  • Whiteside and Goran Dragic will become instant trade chips if they exercise their options for next season, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Whiteside has a $27MM option, while Dragic’s is $19.2MM, which Winderman believes is too high for either player to opt out. Both must decide by June 29.
  • The Heat may take a chance at Oregon’s Bol Bol, whose father Manute briefly played for the organization, with the No. 13 pick, Winderman writes in a separate story. Bol represents a gamble because he’s recovering from a foot injury that limited him to nine games in college.

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.

Southeast Notes: Connelly, Heat, Ressler

Now that the Nuggets’ season is over after a thrilling seven-game series loss to Portland, the Wizards are ramping up their efforts to hire Denver’s current president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to the same position in Washington, per Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington.

While there were questions as to why the Wizards would wait until the Nuggets’ season was over to pursue Connelly, Standig notes that Connelly wasn’t expected to fully explore a move until the Nuggets’ playoff run ended, despite reportedly having interest in running the Wizards.

The Nuggets appear to have an extremely bright future, but Connelly is from Baltimore and began his front office career in Washington in 1996 when he was hired as intern before working his way up to director of player personnel under then-general manager and Wizards’ legend Wes Unseld.

The Nuggets have been in a similar situation as this before. Back in 2013, Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri took the same position with the Raptors after team owner Stan Kroenke acquiesced to Ujiri’s desire to return to Toronto. It will interesting to see if a similar situation will arise with Connelly and the Wizards.

There’s more from the Southeast Division this evening:

  • While it remains highly unlikely that either Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic opt out of their contract with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel relays that even if they did, Miami would still need to use the stretch provision on veteran forward Ryan Anderson just to get close to having enough cap space to sign a max-salary free agent. The more likely scenario is a trade of Dragic, but not Whiteside, after both opt in, especially considering the unlikelihood of a free agent wanting to sign with Miami if Whiteside and Dragic are both gone.
  • In another Q&A session for the Sun-Sentinel (link), Winderman agrees with one of his readers that the Heat probably mistimed their rebuild by beginning a little too early. Rather, they should have followed the lead of other Eastern Conference contenders and waited for LeBron James to leave the East before going into rebuild mode.
  • Despite a overwhelming consensus that this year’s draft crop is lacking in overall talent, Hawks’ owner Tony Ressler is not using that as an excuse, telling Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “If we can’t make two top-10 picks work for us, it’s our fault. Our job is to make them work and I think we will.”

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Giannis, Dragic, Heat, Pacers

The Celtics picked up their defensive intensity to seal an impressive Game 1 road win over the Bucks on Sunday, swarming the paint and putting an emphasis on slowing down Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Antetokounmpo’s primary defender, Al Horford, recorded three blocks (two of which were on him). The Celtics as a whole held the Bucks to just 35% shooting from the floor, including a 7-for-21 performance from Antetokounmpo. Boston’s energy drained Milwaukee, leading to the dominate 112-90 win.

“They were loading [the paint] a lot,” Antetokounmpo said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “Lots of guys in the paint. Whenever I got in the paint, when I spin or try and change direction, the second guy was right there.

“I’ve just gotta go watch tape. If they are going to play like this the whole series, I have to be able to make the right pass, trust my teammates to knock down shots.”

For Horford and the Celtics, containing Antetokounmpo was the game plan entering Game 1. The next challenge for Boston is dealing with Milwaukee’s adjustments entering Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“I just think that our group, we all understood how we needed to defend and how dangerous he is once he gets it in the paint,” Horford said of Antetokounmpo. “So constantly tonight, we had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part, I feel like everyone was very aware. Our guards really did a good job of helping and closing down lanes and things like that, and we just wanted to challenge and contest every shot as best we could.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The Heat could wait it out with Goran Dragic entering the final season of his contract, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. Dragic will decide in the coming weeks whether to exercise his $19.2MM player option for next season, though Winderman notes it wouldn’t be beneficial for the team to extend him on a cheaper, multi-year deal that cuts into future cap space. Should Dragic opt into his player option, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2020.
  • Miami has a long way to go before achieving star status in the East, Winderman writes in a separate article for The Sun Sentinel. The Heat essentially have the same roster situation they did a year ago (minus the fact that Dwyane Wade has retired), leaving more questions than answers about the organization entering this summer. The team is coming off a disappointing 2018/19 season that saw them finish at 39-43, the sixth worst record in the conference.
  • The Pacers would be smart to consider trading one of Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis this summer, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star opines. Indiana was swept by Boston in the first round of the playoffs this spring, failing to effectively play without injured star Victor Oladipo.

Goran Dragic Undecided Whether He’ll Opt In

Heat point guard Goran Dragic hasn’t decided if he’ll opt in next season and he’ll take his time making up his mind, Anthony Chiang  of the Miami Herald reports.

“I had a meeting with [team president] Pat [Riley] and that was it. I told him I’m going to make my decision when that comes,” Dragic told Chiang. “So I still need to talk to the family, the agent. Right now, I just wanted to have at least two weeks to one month completely off, enjoy my vacation with them.”

Dragic’s decision will have major implications on Miami’s offseason approach. His player option is worth $19.2MM. If both Dragic and Hassan Whiteside ($27.1MM) exercise their player options, the Heat will be over the projected salary cap before they make any moves.

Dragic endured an injury-plagued season while averaging 13.7 PPG and 4.8 APG. He underwent right knee surgery in December and wound up missing 46 games. Dragic told Chiang that he has not experienced a setback with his surgically repaired knee but needs to strengthen it during offseason workouts.

Replacing his current deal with a multi-year agreement at a lower annual salary might be a consideration for both parties, Chiang notes.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Lottery, McGruder, Haslem

Heat center Hassan Whiteside isn’t the only Miami veteran with a player option decision to make this offseason. As Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes, point guard Goran Dragic will also need to make a choice as to whether he will opt in to his $19.2MM salary for the 2019/20 season or test the open market.

Dragic believes it’s still too early to make a decision on next year, stating that he will first need to speak with his family and agent to determine what the best next step will be. “There’s a lot of factors,” Dragic said. “I’ll try to do what is best for my career, for my family. It’s going to require to talk a lot and see from there what’s going to be best.”

When specifically asked whether the player option decision will be a difficult one, Dragic had a straightforward response. “I mean, if it would be a simple decision, probably I would already know now. So, yeah.”

There is more out of South Beach tonight:

  • Within the same article, Chiang also notes that the Heat, tied for the best record among lottery teams, only have a 4.7 percent chance at landing one of the top-four picks in this year’s draft (1.0 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, 1.1 percent chance at the No. 2 pick, 1.2 percent chance at the No. 3 pick, and a 1.4 percent chance at the No. 4 pick).
  • In a Q&A piece, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel notes that the Heat probably made a bad decision when they decided to let Rodney McGruder go for financial reasons. The Heat have built their organization on the premise of a certain culture, and making a decision premised on finances rather than basketball flies in the face of that culture.
  • In another piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman writes that 16-year veteran forward Udonis Haslem will need some time to decompress before deciding whether to return for another season. Head coach Erik Spoelstra hopes Haslem returns, saying “He’s sacrificed as much as anybody, obviously. But UD can still play. He still can. We see it all the time in practices. We have a bunch of young bigs that he’s really taken on ownership to mentor and to help develop and everything.”

Mavericks Notes: Porzingis, Doncic, Dragic, Barea

The Knicks informed the Mavericks about the pending rape allegation against Kristaps Porzingis before completing the January trade that sent him to Dallas, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league office was also told about the situation. Porzingis has denied the accusation through his attorney.

Dallas’ decision to go through with the deal is especially significant in light of a workplace misconduct scandal that the organization dealt with last year. The Mavericks overhauled their front office in response to response to numerous claims of sexual misconduct and received a glowing report from commissioner Adam Silver when he visited the team last month.

There’s more tonight from Dallas:

  • Luka Doncic‘s remarkable rookie season might be finished because of a right thigh contusion he suffered Thursday, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Coach Rick Carlisle confirmed that Doncic won’t play tomorrow at Oklahoma City and may be held out much longer. “We’re going to be very prudent with this and make sure that he’s 100% before even thinking about him getting back out there,” Carlisle said, adding that Doncic was fortunate to take the brunt of the collision on his thigh rather than his knee. Doncic is a heavy favorite to be named Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 70 games.
  • A league source says Miami’s Goran Dragic is unlikely to sign with Dallas this summer even though the Mavericks’ front office seems him as an ideal backcourt partner for Doncic, Townsend reports in a separate story. Dragic has to make a decision on a $19.2MM player option and won’t take less than than from another team, Townsend adds. Dallas will have about $30MM in cap space, but seems unlikely to spend most of it on a 32-year-old player coming off arthroscopic surgery. The source identified the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley, who is making just $5MM this season, as a more realistic target if the Mavs can’t land a top-flight option such as Kemba Walker or Klay Thompson.
  • Apart from Dirk Nowitzki if he decides to keep playing, J.J. Barea may be the only impending free agent that the Mavericks try to re-sign, according to Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders. Barea may not be able to provide immediate help next season because of a torn right Achilles tendon he suffered in January.

Heat Notes: Future, Dragic, Olynyk, Terry

Heat president Pat Riley spoke this week about targeting the 2020 offseason as a time when his club could make a splash in free agency, suggesting that Miami will have room for “two max contracts” during that summer. However, as we noted when we relayed Riley’s comments, it’s hard to see a path to two max slots for the Heat unless James Johnson and/or Kelly Olynyk turn down player options for 2020/21, and even then it might be tricky.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald digs a little deeper into the roadblocks in the way of Riley’s plan. As Jackson observes, not only are Riley’s cap estimates probably unrealistic, but it’s not clear which max players the Heat would even be targeting in 2020. That year’s free agent class looks weaker than 2019’s, and while it’s possible that some stars will sign one-year contracts this summer, there aren’t currently a ton of tantalizing names in the ’20 group besides Anthony Davis, who reportedly has eyes for L.A.

Riley also talked earlier this week about trying to add a quality player to the current group in the hopes of contending in 2019/20, but that won’t be easy either, notes Jackson. The Heat might have to count on lucking out in the draft or swinging a major trade in order to add an impact player, since they could be reluctant to even use their mid-level exception on a free agent, given the club’s proximity to the projected luxury tax line.

Here’s more from out of Miami:

  • Having made his return from a knee injury on February 23, Goran Dragic is still being eased back into the Heat’s rotation, having come off the bench in each of his last four games. And that’s just fine by Dragic, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The veteran point guard said he’s focused on getting back up to speed rather than worrying about whether he’s starting or playing with the second unit. “I told [head coach Erik Spoelstra] when we were having a conversation, I said, ‘Spo, don’t think about me. We’re going to figure out things,'” Dragic said. “I know I can’t just go in and be a starter. So for me, I go day by day. My focus is on my rehab. I’m still not done. I still have a lot of stuff to do to try to get my leg stronger. That’s it, basically. In the minutes I play, I just try to help my team. That’s the most important thing right now.”
  • With the Heat attempting to stay out of tax territory for the 2018/19 season, they may face a predicament regarding Kelly Olynyk‘s minutes going forward, as cap expert Albert Nahmad explains (via Twitter). Olynyk can earn some extra bonus money if he plays 1,700 minutes this season, and would need to average 22.2 MPG the rest of the way to reach that threshold. He has played 21.3 MPG so far in ’18/19, but has seen more action lately and has made the most of those minutes, Nahmad notes.
  • Speaking of Olynyk, in an entertaining piece for The Athletic, Shandel Richardson takes a look at a spending habits of the Heat big man, who prefers to label his lifestyle as “financially intelligent” rather than “frugal.”
  • Emanuel Terry‘s 10-day deal with the Heat has now expired, as our 10-day contract tracker shows. There have been no indications that Miami plans to re-sign him, at least not right away.