Goran Dragic

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.

Pat Riley Talks 2020, Playoff Race, Draft Picks

Assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic exercise their player options for next season, the Heat won’t be in position to open up cap room this summer. The club would have over $129MM in guaranteed money on its books for 2019/20 in that scenario, well above the projected $109MM cap.

However, with the contracts for Whiteside and Dragic set to expire in 2020, Heat president Pat Riley believes his team can be a major player during free agency that offseason. Riley said as much in an interview with Heat reporter Jason Jackson (video link), as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.

“In 2020, we’ll have a lot of room,” Riley said. “We’ll also have the possibility to have enough room to go after two max contracts, and we’re going to do that. So we’re planning that 2020 will be the room year.”

The NBA’s latest salary cap projection calls for a $118MM cap for 2020/21. Currently, the Heat project to have about $71.6MM on their books for that season if James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk pick up ’20/21 player options. So Riley’s suggestion that the team will have two max slots may hinge on one or both of those players opting out.

While Riley and the Heat are eyeing that 2020 offseason as their next opportunity to make a major splash in free agency, it sounds like he’s not ruling out the possibility of pursuing upgrades this coming summer, when the club will have a mid-level exception available.

“We’re chasing a playoff spot and we’re young, and then we’re going to be chasing some players that could come in,” Riley said, per Winderman. “If we could get one or two players to come in with this group, this young group, then I think the sky’s the limit for this team in the next couple of years.”

Here’s more from Riley on the Heat, via Winderman:

  • If they continue to slump, the Heat – who currently rank 10th in our reverse standings – would be in position to snag a pretty favorable draft pick. However, Riley wants to see the squad continue pushing for one of the final playoff spots in the East. “It’s absolutely essential that they grow with experience, but not only experience with the playing time, but they get to the playoffs,” Riley said. “… I don’t care if you’re fighting for spot number eight or seven or five or three or the top spot or you’re fighting for a championship. You’ve got to be chasing something that’s positive.”
  • While Riley sounds far more interested in earning the No. 8 seed than in landing a top-10 pick in the draft, he dismissed the idea that he doesn’t value draft picks: “People think I don’t believe in draft picks. They’re so wrong. … Draft picks are very important to us.”
  • Riley suggests that Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson are the key members of the Heat’s young core going forward. However, the club president also mentioned Derrick Jones Jr., and noted that players like Dion Waiters (25), Olynyk (27), and Whiteside (28) are still fairly young.

Heat Notes: Wade, Ellington, Dragic, Draft Age

Coach Erik Spoelstra cites “an instant and inherent built-in level of urgency” for the Heat to reach the playoffs in Dwyane Wade‘s final season, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami is stuck in ninth place at 26-31, a game behind the Pistons, whom they host tonight. Wade announced before the start of the season that this would be his final year in the NBA, and the organization wants to send him off with a playoff appearance.

Wade won’t be moved into the starting lineup, but Spoelstra plans to expand his role. Wade has remained productive in his 16th season, averaging 14.1 points per night in 47 games, all as a reserve.

“You can see what’s happening,” Spoelstra said. “He’s going to be starting to play starter’s minutes. We’ve made it through this far of the season and he’s feeling great. We’ve protected each other to this point — but now it’s go time. I’m going to keep the dynamics as much as I can the same. I don’t want too many moving parts this late in the season.”

There’s more Heat news to pass along:

  • Miami will see a couple of players in the next three days who were traded just before the deadline, Winderman adds in the same story. The Pistons feature Wayne Ellington, who wasn’t getting consistent playing time in Miami, and Spoelstra said the organization worked with Ellington’s representatives to find him a better situation. “He decided at this point of his career he wanted to go to a place where he could play going into free agency,” Spoelstra explained. Tyler Johnson and the Suns will face the Heat on Monday.
  • Goran Dragic will play tonight for the first time since having knee surgery in December, but his minutes will be limited, Winderman tweets.
  • Wade is a strong proponent of lowering the draft age so that players who believe they’re ready for the NBA won’t be forced into a year of college basketball, Winderman adds in a separate piece. The NBA submitted a proposal to the players union this week to lower the draft age from 19 to 18, but the change that won’t take effect until 2022 if it’s approved. “I just think the rule should be that if a guy, if he’s good enough to come out at 18, at 17, he should be able to,” Wade said. “Just like other sports and other things in the world, you’re able to go to the war early.”

Heat Notes: Dragic, Jones, Wade, Terry

The Heat announced on Wednesday (via Twitter) that injured guards Goran Dragic and Derrick Jones were full participants in practice and traveled with the team to Philadelphia for tonight’s game against the 76ers.

While Dragic and Jones have been cleared to return to action, head coach Erik Spoelstra said the duo may still need “a little more work” (Twitter link). Spoelstra is “not necessarily” planning on having both players return to the court in Philadelphia, he added today (Twitter link via Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel).

Whether or not Dragic and Jones earn minutes tonight, it’s great news for the Heat that both players are ready to return — Jones was originally expected to be sidelined until at least March. Still, after trading Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington at the deadline two weeks ago, Miami will once again have to sort out a crowded backcourt rotation.

Dragic and Jones will be vying for minutes with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, and Dwyane Wade. Winslow has been effective as the Heat’s de facto point guard in Dragic’s absence, and Dragic indicated that he’d be happy to play off the ball if the club wants to keep the ball in Winslow’s hands, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Over the All-Star break, Barry Jackson spoke to a pair of veteran NBA scouts who are both bearish on the Heat’s long-term outlook. “They have really screwed it up,” a Western Conference scout said. “They are in this mess by themselves, have only themselves to blame. They got deluded by one year of performance, fell much too in love with their own players. They have five bad contracts – James Johnson, (Hassan) Whiteside, Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and now Ryan Anderson. Their whole team is just a bunch of other guys. They have too many mediocre players.”
  • Appearing at his final All-Star Game in Charlotte this past weekend, Dwyane Wade noted one reason why he’s not regretting his decision to retire at season’s end, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com details. “The game is in good hands,” Wade said. “So it’s easy to walk away right now.”
  • Rookie forward Emanuel Terry was working out at the University of Miami this week as part of Team USA’s training camp when he found out that the Heat wanted to sign him to a 10-day contract, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Very last drill I did … I was walking back to my chair and (Heat assistant GM) Adam (Simon) stopped me,” said Terry, who had been prepared to participate in this week’s World Cup qualifiers. “He asked me how I was doing, I told him, ‘Well.’ I asked him how he was doing and he said, ‘We called you up.’ I couldn’t stop smiling, really for at least 10 minutes, and then I kind of told everyone, well, everyone approached me, and I kind of went on about my day.”

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Ariza, Fultz, Beal

The Heat have dealt with rotation issues all season and they’ll have another dilemma when they return from the All-Star break. Point guard Goran Dragic is expected to return after recovering from arthroscopic surgery to his right knee. That will impact Justise Winslow, whose role as a playmaker and ballhandler has expanded in Dragic’s absence. Winslow enjoys playing with Dragic but doesn’t want to lose his starting spot.

“I’m going to think about that and let my curiosity go crazy during the All-Star break,” Winslow told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “That’s something that is out of my control. I can say what I would want, but it’s up to the coaches and I am ready to execute whatever role they give me.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Trevor Ariza was glad he was traded to the Wizards because of his familiarity with the organization and some of their players, Kimberly Cataudella of NBC Sports Washington relays. Ariza even implied he had some input on the trade made with the Suns, with whom he signed a one-year contract last summer. “If I [were] to leave [Phoenix], for me, it would be home or a place that I’m familiar with, and the opportunity came to come to Washington, and I chose Washington over everything,” he said. Ariza is averaging 15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 4.3 APG in 28 starts since the trade.
  • Not only do the Magic have big plans for Markelle Fultz, they’re already envisioning what he could do for them if they reach the postseason in upcoming years, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel reports. The No. pick in the 2017 draft was dealt by Philadelphia to Orlando earlier this month. “Watching film of him in Philly and then also of him in college … I’m not sure there’s an aspect of the game he can’t excel at,” coach Steve Clifford said. “Particularly in playoff series, you’ve got to have guys that can play both ways.”
  • Wizards guard Bradley Beal may have irritated some Celtics and Sixers fans with a comment he made during an All-Star event, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Asked which team he believed would win the Eastern Conference championship, Beal replied: “I think it’s going to be Toronto or Milwaukee.”

Southeast Notes: Walker, Dragic, Fultz, Bryant

It’s not a guarantee that he’ll stay with the Hornets, but Kemba Walker is serving as Charlotte’s unofficial host for All-Star Weekend, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “Welcome everyone to my city!” Walker tweeted today as a greeting to the thousands of visitors headed to Charlotte for three days of festivities.

“This city has embraced me so much over the years,” Walker said. “Allowed me to be who I am. Allowed me to play through my mistakes early in my career, to become the player I am today. The fans have just been top notch, and I respect that because we haven’t been a top organization, haven’t gone to the playoffs every year. … Through that, they still embrace us, still embrace me. You have to respect that.”

Walker, who holds nearly every franchise scoring record, will be one of the hottest names on this year’s free agent market. A three-time All-Star, he is in the middle of his most productive season, averaging career highs with 25.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per night. Despite Walker’s affection for Charlotte, Bonnell states that it’s hard to predict what will happen this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat guard Goran Dragic is “making a lot of progress” after having knee surgery in December, but coach Erik Spoelstra tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald there’s still no timetable for his return. Miami has been expecting him to be ready soon after the All-Star break. In the same story, Spoelstra says Ryan Anderson, who has only played two minutes since being acquired from the Suns, is ready for a larger role if needed.
  • Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, both top six selections in the 2017 draft, have a chance to prove themselves with the Magic after battling injuries early in their careers, notes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando’s front office believes Fultz, who was acquired from the Sixers last week, can become a standout point guard because of his strength, explosiveness, court vision and playmaking.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant reached starter criteria this week by starting his 41st game of the season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The qualifying offer for the upcoming free agent has been increased to $3MM and Washington’s cap hold has been raised as well. Dwight Howard was supposed to be the starting center after signing with the Wizards last summer, but Bryant seized the opportunity when Howard was injured.

Heat Notes: Johnson, McGruder, Waiters, Johnson

The Heat have had to use countless different lineup combinations throughout the season as players have come and gone due to injuries, but recently it has been Tyler Johnson that has become a key staple in the starting lineup.

As Ira Winderman writes for The Sun-Sentinal, Johnson has provided an energetic approach that has made him a perfect fit for the starting lineup, especially as Erik Spoelstra continues to look for ways to jumpstart his team.

The Heat have made several significant changes in the wake of Goran Dragic‘s injury, most notably converting Justise Winslow to being the team’s primary ball-handler and creator.

There’s more from the Heat:

Goran Dragic Undergoes Knee Surgery

12:26pm: Dragic has undergone surgery to clean up his right knee, the Heat announced in a press release. According to the team, the veteran guard is expected to be out until about the All-Star break, which coincides with the two-month timetable suggested by Wojnarowski (as noted below).

11:31am: Heat guard Goran Dragic is set to undergo a scope on his troublesome right knee, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter links). According to Jackson, it was determined that Dragic would undergo the procedure after his knee failed to respond to rest and treatment.

No specific timeline has been set yet for Dragic’s return, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) hears from a source that Miami’s starting point guard is expected to miss the next two months. The Heat figure to provide an official update on Dragic’s recovery timetable after he has formally undergone the procedure.

It has been a tough season so far for the Heat and for Dragic, who has been limited to just 14 games. In those games, he’s averaging 15.3 PPG and 4.9 APG with a .410 FG% and .314 3PT%. Both of those shooting percentages would be the second-worst of his 11-year NBA career.

As for the Heat, they were widely viewed as a playoff team in the East entering the season, but are currently outside the top eight, with a 13-16 record. While the club is only one game out of a postseason spot, the fight for the playoffs will be even more challenging with Dragic sidelined for the foreseeable future.

Miami’s roster is somewhat thin on traditional point guards behind Dragic, but they have a number of players who can handle the ball. Josh Richardson, Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow, and Dwyane Wade are among the players who could take on adjusted responsibilities or roles during Dragic’s absence.