Goran Dragic

Heat Notes: Iguodala, Dragic, Spoelstra, Rotation

The Heat list reserve forward Andre Iguodala as probable for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Iguodala missed the second half of Game 2 on Thursday with tightness in his back. He’s averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 19.1 MPG during the postseason.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Point guard Goran Dragic, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has sparkled in the playoffs after the club tried to trade him last offseason, according to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Team president Pat Riley wanted to ship Dragic to Dallas in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade but the Mavericks weren’t interested.
  • Dwyane Wade believes Erik Spoelstra doesn’t receive enough accolades for his coaching accomplishments, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “He will not get enough credit for the Big 3 era because people think if you put talent together, you’re just going to win,” Wade said. “That is not true. We had an unbelievable general to lead us to those championships and the success we had, and he’s continuing it.”
  • Spoelstra has identified his top six players and is rolling with them, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. While Spoelstra used 10 players on Thursday, six of them played at least 32 minutes. That’s not unusual in the postseason, Winderman declares in his latest mailbag.
  • A fiery halftime locker room got the Heat refocused during halftime of Game 2, Winderman writes in a separate story.

O’Connor’s Latest: Bucks, CP3, Giannis, Clippers, Dragic

Shortly after the Bucks were eliminated from the postseason on Tuesday night, Marc Stein of The New York Times tweeted that a number of rival teams believe Milwaukee will explore a trade for Thunder point guard Chris Paul this offseason.

In his latest column, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer digs deeper into that idea, arguing that the Bucks need an upgrade at the point and making the case that Paul would be an ideal fit alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.

While the Bucks likely wouldn’t face a ton of competition if they pursue Paul due to his exorbitant cap hit ($41.4MM in 2020/21), O’Connor cites league sources who say the Sixers have “seriously debated” the idea of going after the veteran guard. The Knicks – whose front office is now being run by CP3’s former agent Leon Rose – are also a potential suitor, as O’Connor notes.

The Bucks could conceivable outbid either team for Paul, but they don’t have a ton of appealing assets, in O’Connor’s view — after this year’s No. 24 overall pick, the next first-rounder Milwaukee can trade is in 2024.

Here’s more from O’Connor:

  • League sources view the Bucks as the “clear favorite” to retain Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021, but the Heat, Raptors, Warriors, and Mavericks are among the teams hoping to make a run at him, according to O’Connor.
  • Interestingly, O’Connor also reports that multiple league sources have said recently that the Clippers intend to pursue a deal for Antetokounmpo. It’s hard to imagine such a deal coming to fruition, but Giannis has an “admiration” for Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, O’Connor writes.
  • Goran Dragic is one player the Bucks could try to sign in free agency as they seek a point guard upgrade, but league sources expect Dragic to remain with the Heat, per O’Connor.
  • League sources expect a somewhat quiet trade market this offseason, says O’Connor.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Enes Kanter, Celtics, 28, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019

It’s difficult to pump up your value when you’re glued to the bench. That’s the dilemma for Kanter, who has dropped out of the Celtics’ big man rotation. Kanter averaged 15 MPG in the opening round against Philadelphia but coach Brad Stevens has gone with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III during the second-round series against Toronto. Save for a four-minute cameo on Thursday, Kanter has been a spectator. He has a $5MM player option for next season and the benching might compel him to take the guaranteed money and force the front office’s hands.

Goran Dragic, Heat, 34, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2015

Perhaps we all forgot how good this guy can be. Dragic is getting a little long in the tooth and has battled injury issues, but he’s been fantastic on the Orlando campus. He’s been the most consistent offensive force for the surprising Heat, averaging 22.8 PPG and 5.0 APG against Indiana in the first-round sweep and 25.0 PPG and 4.5 APG in Games 1 and 2 against Milwaukee. Dragic could provide a major jolt for any playoff-caliber club and his price tag keeps rising.

Ben McLemore, Rockets, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $4.3MM deal in 2019

McLemore got off to a strong start in Orlando, including back-to-back 20-point games during the seeding round. As the playoffs have moved along, McLemore has seen his playing time diminish. He received 10 or fewer minutes in the last three games against Oklahoma City, as Russell Westbrook’s return affected his role. McLemore’s $2.3MM for next season isn’t guaranteed. The contract is cheap enough for the Rockets to retain him, but if that happens, there’s no guarantee he’ll be a rotation player.

Evan Fournier, Magic, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $85MM deal in 2016

Fournier has a $17.15MM option on his contract for next season. It seemed likely prior to the stoppage of play in March that he’d opt out and test a weak free agent market. His career year hit a snag during the restart, as he battled a non-COVID related illness and then was generally a non-factor in the first-round series against Milwaukee. He shot 35.7% from the field, compared to 44.9% shooting during the regular season. With all the uncertainty surrounding next season, Fournier has more incentive to take the guaranteed money.

Noah Vonleh, Nuggets, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019

A lottery pick in 2014, Vonleh has already played for six organizations. It looks like he’ll be adding a seventh to his resume next season, provided he can find another NBA home. Vonleh made three brief appearances in the seeding round but his only action during the playoffs was a three-minute stint during a 37-point loss to Utah. It’s easy to forget that Vonleh started 57 games for the Knicks last season. There won’t be any teams valuing him as a starter this offseason; he’ll be fortunate to get another veteran’s minimum deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Crowder, Iguodala, Adebayo, Dragic

Impending free agent Jae Crowder is showing his worth to the Heat in the playoffs, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Acquired from the Grizzlies at the trade deadline, Crowder has become a valuable part of the rotation, logging 71 minutes in the first two games against the Bucks, the third-highest total on the team.

Crowder played the entire fourth quarter in Games 1 and 2 and is spacing the floor against a team that likes to crowd the paint. He is 7-for-19 on 3-pointers and has been the primary defender on Giannis Antetokounmpo as the Heat have built a 2-0 lead on the East’s top seed.

“Jae’s a competitor, a warrior, and he’s accepting every challenge, he’s a great defender, strong, and he gives us that spacing on offense,” Goran Dragic said. “And he’s shooting the ball really well. We want to find him in the offense. I mean, he’s already proved in his career that he’s hitting those big shots, when the game is on the line. He has been huge for us this series.”

Crowder’s performance sets up a difficult decision for the offseason. At age 30, he will be looking for a multi-year deal, but the Heat are trying to maximize cap space in hopes of making a run at Antetokounmpo or another star next summer. They may offer Crowder a large one-year contract as a way of keeping their options open.

There’s more Heat news to pass along:

  • It didn’t take long for Andre Iguodala to become convinced that the Heat could be title contenders, Chiang relays in the same story. The veteran forward talked about his experience during an appearance on “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” including the impression of watching Bam Adebayo up close. “I always knew Bam Adebayo was this good,” Iguodala said.Shaun Livingston had been telling me about him for about two years. He was like, ‘Yo, there’s this kid named Bam Adebayo in Miami. He’s legit.’ So I always kept an eye on him. Then when I got to see him, I was like: ‘Whoa. Like he’s superstar level.’”
  • Iguodala is listed as questionable for tonight’s game after spraining his right ankle Wednesday, Chiang adds. Center Kelly Olynyk (right knee bruise) and guard Gabe Vincent (right shoulder sprain) are also questionable for Game 3.
  • Dragic tells Shandel Richardson of Sports Illustrated that he was surprised to be re-inserted into the starting lineup after spending most of the season coming off the bench. Dragic said he got “really comfortable” as a reserve, but coach Erik Spoelstra thought the lineup change was necessary. “Whatever it takes,” Dragic said. “We have a really good group of guys who are going to do everything to win a game. I’m just enjoying it right now.”

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Herro, Dragic, Hill

Heat center Bam Adebayo has made a noticeable impact during the team’s first-round series against the Pacers, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald details.

Adebayo, 23, has averaged 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and five assists in three games, shooting 53% from the floor in 33.7 minutes of work. The Heat have won each of the three contests, and it’s largely due to Adebayo’s production and energy on both ends of the floor.

“His biggest moments came down the stretch on both ends [in Game 3], those rebounds were big time,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We needed those extra relief opportunities, because they jammed us up a couple of times and forced us into a couple of turnovers. Those relief points and those free throws were key.”

Adebayo grabbed multiple key offensive rebounds on Saturday, finishing the contest with 22 points and 11 boards. His improvement since being drafted 14th by the team in 2017 is well-documented. The Heat will desperately need his production if the team advances to the second round, with either Milwaukee or Orlando waiting as an opponent.

“I feel like the player that I am, it’s hard to [game plan] me out,” Adebayo said. “That’s because I do a lot of things so well. I’m not trying to pat myself on the back. But just because I screen well, I get guys open. It doesn’t always have to be about scoring with me. In Game 2, I had seven points but everybody said I had the biggest impact on the game. It’s little stuff like that. … When my shot isn’t falling, when my offense is not going, I always bank on my defense and my effort.”

There’s more out of Miami today:

  • Tyler Herro has no plans of backing down from the Pacers’ isolation attacks throughout the rest of the series, as relayed by Anthony Chiang (Twitter link). “It’s no secret who they’re going at. They’re going at me and Duncan,” Herro said. “There’s no secret about it. I think everybody sees it. But that’s something that I’m not going to run from it.” Herro finished with 20 points in Game 3 but was targeted frequently on defense, allowing multiple baskets throughout the fourth quarter. Herro has been working with Miami’s development coaches on studying film and improving his defense this season, a process that will likely continue in the coming years.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel explores how the Heat nearly shipped Goran Dragic to Dallas in the trade that brought Jimmy Butler to Miami last year. Dragic has been essential for the Heat in the first round, averaging 22.7 points, 5.7 assists and 34 minutes as the team’s starting point guard.
  • The Heat are in the midst of another player transformation, this time working to incorporate Solomon Hill into the team’s hard-working culture, Winderman examines in a separate story for the Miami Herald. Hill, who was acquired along with Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala from Memphis in February, has yet to see concrete minutes for Miami in his seventh NBA campaign. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.

Heat Notes: Closers, Butler-Dragic, Benched Players, Injuries

The Heat have found playoff success thus far with a closing lineup comprising Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Bam Adebayo, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. This closing lineup resolved the last 7:57 of the team’s Game 1 victory in Miami’s quarterfinals series against the Pacers (posting a +10 plus-minus), plus the final 7:45 of the Heat’s hard-fought Game 2 win (where the group finished with a +1).

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised the groups effectiveness on both sides of the ball. “Defensively, they’ve been good,” Spoelstra said. “Offensively, we’ve been able to keep it simple and get it to either Goran or Jimmy to make the plays and you trust that they’re going to get you something good, a clean look.”

There’s more from South Beach:

  • A key duo within the Heat’s closing lineup, guards Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler, have benefited from their playing minutes together being expanded from 14 MPG to 22.5 MPG in the postseason, according to Manny Navarro of The Athletic. Butler and Dragic have become a very effective dynamic duo for Miami. “One of my all-time favorite teammates,” Butler said. “We just connect.”
  • Heat power forward Meyers Leonard and rookie point guard Kendrick Nunn both have yet to crack Miami’s postseason rotation, as Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel details. Nunn started for the Heat all season. Though frustrated about the benching, Leonard voiced optimism that both he and Nunn would see action soon. “[S]taying ready is important, so when I get my opportunity I’ll be prepared,” Leonard said. “There’s going to be a moment that we need Kendrick Nunn, make no mistake.”
  • Heat forwards Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr. have both been listed as questionable to play in Game 3 of their series against the Pacers on Saturday due to ankle injuries, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).

Injury Notes: Beverley, Dragic, MCW, Nuggets, More

Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley left Tuesday’s game against Phoenix in the first quarter with a left calf injury and didn’t return, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. The injury isn’t considered serious, but Doc Rivers suggested after the game that the team will play it safe, with the postseason not scheduled to begin until August 17.

“I don’t think it’s bad,” the Clippers’ head coach said. “We’re going to be very cautious, I can tell you that.”

Beverley’s injury occurred just as Lou Williams returned to action for the Clippers following his 10-day quarantine period. If Beverley is able to get back on the court soon and Montrezl Harrell reports to the team within the next week or so, L.A. should be back at full strength before the playoffs get underway.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Heat guard Goran Dragic suffered a slight ankle sprain near the end of Tuesday’s win over Boston, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that X-rays on the ankle came back negative.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, who left Tuesday’s game with a sore left foot, has been diagnosed with a tendon strain after undergoing an MRI, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Carter-Williams is doubtful to play on Wednesday vs. Toronto.
  • The Nuggets will once again be without Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) on Wednesday, but the team has upgraded Jamal Murray (hamstring) to questionable (Twitter link). Denver is in action again on Thursday, so it won’t be a surprise if Murray ends up playing one half of the back-to-back set.
    [UPDATE: Murray was ruled out for Wednesday’s game]
  • Speaking of back-to-backs, the Heat held Jimmy Butler (right ankle soreness) out of the second leg of a back-to-back set on Tuesday, while the Celtics are doing the same with Kemba Walker on Wednesday (Twitter link). Both teams are likely just playing it safe with their All-Stars.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Leonard, Wizards, Hawks

After starting all but 15 of his previous 487 regular season games since 2012, Goran Dragic was caught off guard when Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra asked him last season about coming off the bench on a permanent basis in 2019/20, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel relays.

“As soon as I heard this, I was a little bit in shock, you know,” Dragic said during an Instagram Live appearance this week. “Shocked. Mad. It was full of emotions going through my head.”

Admitting the idea was “really hard to accept,” Dragic said that he eventually came to terms with it and tried to turn it into a positive, aiming to be one of the NBA’s very best sixth men. It has been an effective lineup change for the Heat, who had been having their best season since Dragic joined the club in 2015. The veteran point guard, meanwhile, was enjoying a nice bounce-back season, with 16.1 PPG and 5.1 APG in his reserve role.

“At the end of the day, I think that was a great change for me, for my career,” Dragic said, per Winderman. “And I’m really happy how I responded — to the players, to Coach Spo, to the trainers. They always stood next to me and helped me. The only thing I had to do was embrace that role and I did it.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In his own Instagram Live appearance this week, Heat center Meyers Leonard spoke about getting comfortable in Miami after seven years in Portland, adding that he continues to rehab the ankle injury that had sidelined him before the NBA’s hiatus. “I’m feeling much, much better,” Leonard told Heat TV host Jason Jackson, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “Obviously, I had an injury there right before the season was suspended. And it was bad. I think most people were aware of that. But I’m always incredibly, incredibly focused and I take a very professional approach. So I guess if there’s a silver lining for Meyers Leonard, I’ve had more time to rehab and the rehab’s been very good.”
  • As the Wizards prepare for the draft and free agency, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores the team’s biggest needs, naming rim protection and perimeter defense as areas the team must improve. Hughes also suggests it could make sense to target a high-ceiling player in the draft, something GM Tommy Sheppard mentioned as a possibility earlier in April.
  • In a conversation with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, former NBA executive Seth Partnow says that he’d be wary of offering a maximum-salary extension to John Collins this offseason if he were running the Hawks. Partnow would be comfortable with a deal in the four-year, $80MM range, which may not be enough to lock up Collins before he reaches restricted free agency in 2021.

Heat Notes: Nunn, Culture, Dragic, Crowder

Ja Morant is considered the consensus frontrunner for the NBA’s 2019/20 Rookie of the Year award, and figures to be a unanimous or near-unanimous winner when voting eventually takes place. However, one person who’s not on board with the consensus choice is Heat guard Kendrick Nunn, who believes he should be this season’s Rookie of the Year, as he tells Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

“I think people will say that (Morant) is Rookie of the Year, but I don’t believe it,” Nunn said. “The most value should be in the wins. And we’re both starting guards on teams, and our team has been holding it down. We’re a playoff team, so go ahead and give that Rookie of the Year to Kendrick Nunn.”

While there’s no chance Nunn beats out Morant in the final vote, the Heat’s starting point guard is certainly worthy of a spot on voters’ Rookie of the Year ballots. He has averaged 15.6 PPG and 3.4 APG with a solid .448/.362/.837 shooting line in 62 games (29.8 MPG).

Still, Morant’s numbers (17.6 PPG, 6.9 APG) have been better in a similar role and while the Grizzlies’ record isn’t as strong as the Heat’s, Memphis is still a playoff team in the West. Perhaps most importantly, Nunn is a complementary option on a Miami roster that features multiple All-Stars (Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo), while Morant has been the Grizzlies’ MVP this season.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • After a handful of up-and-down years in Miami following LeBron James‘ departure, the 2019/20 season represented “rebirth, regeneration, (and) renewal” for the Heat and their culture, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. In Winderman’s view, it has been a long time since the Heat looked so different from one year to the next, which could be attributed to the departures of players like Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters, along with the arrivals of Butler, Tyler Herro, and others.
  • While there appears to be mutual interest between the Heat and Goran Dragic in extending their relationship beyond this season, Dragic will be one of the top point guards on the free agent market and he’s no stranger to relocating, Winderman writes for the Sun-Sentinel. This will be the first time that Dragic has reached free agency since he signed a five-year deal with Miami in 2015, just a few months after being traded to the club.
  • In a separate Sun-Sentinel mailbag, Winderman wonders how the Heat’s decision on Jae Crowder in free agency will be impacted by the fact that the team only really got to evaluate him for a month following his arrival at the trade deadline. As Winderman notes, Miami has Bird rights on all its key free agents – including Crowder, Dragic, Derrick Jones, and Meyers Leonard – so it could be a matter of picking and choosing which players the team is most comfortable investing in — and which ones won’t require commitments that compromise the Heat’s 2021 cap flexibility.

Heat Notes: Jones, Dragic, Free Agency, Draft

Whenever the 2019/20 season eventually ends and the ’20 offseason begins, Heat swingman Derrick Jones will become an unrestricted free agent. While Jones insists he hasn’t thought much about his free agency, he recently said that he’d like to remain in Miami for as long as possible, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.

“I want to be here my whole career,” Jones said. “If I could have that and we could come to an agreement with the Heat, I’m with it. I just want to be here.”

Veteran point guard Goran Dragic, who is also facing unrestricted free agency this year, expressed a similar sentiment, admitting that he’s barely thought about his contract status amid the coronavirus pandemic, but suggesting that a return to the Heat would be a good outcome, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

“We like it here,” Dragic said of Miami. “It has been fun. It’s a nice place to live, the kids are going to school here. So definitely this would be one of the options to be high on our list. Like I said, you don’t know what the future holds, how the talks are going to go and we’ll see. But I’m confident that we’re going to choose the best situation for our family.”

While the Heat would presumably like to retain both Jones and Dragic, they also want to keep enough cap flexibility to potentially make a run at a top free agent like Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021. Additionally, the Bulls are reportedly keeping a close eye on both Jones and Dragic, so they – or another team – might try to make a play for one or both.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Andre Fernandez and John Hollinger of The Athletic take an in-depth look at potential next steps for the Heat, with Hollinger suggesting that a forward/center who can shoot – and who would be open to a lucrative one-year deal – might be the most logical target for the club this offseason. Hollinger identifies Danilo Gallinari, Paul Millsap, Marcus Morris, and Serge Ibaka as some possible candidates.
  • If the NBA’s hiatus results in a reduced luxury-tax threshold for 2020/21, that could be problematic for the Heat, especially if they want to re-sign several of their own free agents, including Dragic, Jones, Jae Crowder, and Meyers Leonard, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald explains.
  • Based on the current NBA standings, the Heat will hold the No. 23 pick in the draft, which figures to present the team with a plethora of options, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “What I’ve heard is the pick at 23 or 22 is the same pick at 35,” one NBA scout told Winderman. “It’s top heavy. It’s a bad draft. There’s a gray range once you get past the number up there in the early teens.”