Jae Crowder

Heat Rumors: Adebayo, Giannis, Jones, Dragic, Crowder

The expectation heading into the 2020 offseason is that the Heat will prefer to wait on a new deal for Bam Adebayo, since signing him to a maximum-salary extension would cut into the team’s available cap room for 2021. Miami could maximize that space by keeping Adebayo’s more modest RFA cap hold on the books for 2021, then eventually going over the cap to re-sign him.

Adebayo could get the same max contract whether he signs it this offseason or waits until 2021, but if he’d rather lock it in sooner rather than later, it might become an awkward situation for the Heat, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. In Jackson’s view, Miami actually may have had more leverage to ask Adebayo to wait when there was a perception that the team needed another star to become championship contenders. After this year’s Finals appearance, that argument is more tenuous.

The Heat’s plan is to go “all-in” for Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021 if the Bucks star reaches free agency, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. If Antetokounmpo agrees to an extension with Milwaukee before then, the Heat may not feel as compelled to hold onto their ’21 cap room, which would lessen the need to wait on Adebayo’s next contract.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Unrestricted free agent wing Derrick Jones is expected to receive interest from the Cavaliers, Hornets, and Hawks, among others, sources tell Charania. At just 23 years old, Jones is an unusually young UFA and still has room to develop, which explains why several rebuilding teams will likely kick the tires.
  • There’s mutual interest in a new deal between Goran Dragic and the Heat, according to Charania, who says the veteran point guard will have multiple suitors.
  • If the Heat are only willing to offer one-year contracts this offseason, Dragic and Jae Crowder may have to decide whether they prefer to remain in Miami or seek longer-term security, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’m going to obviously give it thought on both sides — having security and my comfort with this organization,” Crowder told Winderman. “So, hopefully, it all comes together from both sides. And that’s what I really want to do.”
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald examines how the Heat could theoretically re-sign Dragic and Crowder to lucrative one-year contracts while also adding a quality player with the mid-level exception — and staying out of tax territory.

Central Notes: Harris, Crowder, Pistons, Avdija, Bulls

Forwards Joe Harris and Jae Crowder are free agents the Bucks might pursue with their mid-level exception, Eric Nehm of The Athletic speculates. Harris would provide another offensive threat, while Crowder is a defensive stalwart. If the Bucks pursue cheaper options, Josh JacksonWesley Iwundu, Gary Clark and Glenn Robinson are considerations with their biannual exception or minimum deals.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The Pistons are putting a premium on conditioning and weight training but they’ll look to balance that with offensive improvements, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Coach Dwane Casey looks at the Heat as a model of a team with toughness and shooting. “You’ve got to have a good mixture of hard-hat guys and shooters – guys who can put the ball in the hole,” he said. “The game is leaning that way. We all have to evolve from that standpoint.”
  • Israeli forward Deni Avdija could be an ideal complement to last year’s first-round pick, Sekou Doumbouya, Langlois writes in a separate story. Avdija has similar size and positional flexibility as Doumbouya, which could allow the Pistons to exploit mismatches. His offensive skills would add another playmaker at Casey’s disposal. However, Avdija would have to slide to the Pistons’ pick at No. 7 or they’d have to trade up to land him.
  • The Bulls won’t be making major roster changes this offseason but they could pursue a wing in free agency, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago opines. They would be wise not to hand out a long-term contract, as future cap space should be preserved until they show real improvement, Schaefer adds.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Offseason, Butler, L2M Report

Miami’s surprising postseason success may change the long-term plan for the franchise, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. The Heat have been focused on maximizing cap room for the free agent class of 2021, but their run to the Finals may alter their thinking, not only regarding free agent such as Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder, but for a possible extension for Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo will be eligible for a maximum extension during the offseason, and the team had been expected to delay a new deal with the 23-year-old until next summer. His cap hold will be just $15MM, preserving enough room to chase an elite free agent. However, Hollinger thinks Adebayo’s All-Star season may make it too risky to let him get to restricted free agency.

Even a “low” max deal that starts at 25% of the cap would take the Heat out of the 2021 free agent sweepstakes. But Hollinger notes that the front office didn’t have cap room when it acquired Jimmy Butler on a max salary last summer and suggests that Pat Riley might pursue a similar strategy next year, hoping the team’s young talent will enable another sign-and-trade for a top free agent.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • In the same piece, Hollinger offers a suggestion for Miami’s offseason that would allow the team to compete for a title again next year without altering its road map for the future. The Heat are about $45MM below the projected tax line for 2020/21 with a mid-level exception that could be used to add a power forward such as Paul Millsap on a one-year contract with an option.  Crowder could be offered a similar deal to stay, while Dragic might get a longer-term contract with manageable yearly salaries. Hollinger adds that with Butler, Dragic and Crowder all age 30 or older, Miami’s focus should be on the present rather than the future.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes rebuilding teams should focus on finding a player like Butler, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. “The draft is coming up in … a month, they should study Jimmy Butler as a two-way player,” Spoelstra told reporters after Friday’s game. “He’s the ultimate competitor, and when you’re facing the ultimate competition, that’s what happens.”
  • Two controversial calls that benefited the Heat in Game 5 were both deemed correct in the league’s last-two minute report, although two others were missed that proved to be inconsequential, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Heat Notes: Crowder, Iguodala, Dragic, Adebayo

Jae Crowder has only been a member of the Heat for about eight months, but this year’s run to the NBA Finals has helped convince him he’d like to stick around a little longer. The veteran forward told reporters today that he’s interested in re-signing with the club this offseason, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“Hopefully we can work something out,” Crowder said. “It’s enjoyable because we’re winning. Last two teams standing. It’s been a great, great organization to be a part of.”

With the Heat looking to maintain cap flexibility for the 2021 free agent class, Jackson says he expects the club to give Crowder a one-year offer that might include a team option for the 2021/22 season.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Rob Mahoney of The Ringer takes a closer look at how the trade-deadline deal that sent Crowder and Andre Iguodala to Miami helped the Heat reshape their roster and unlock the team’s two-way potential.
  • A report earlier this week suggested that front office executives around the NBA view the Heat as the top destination for the next star player seeking a change of scenery. According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, a number of player agents share this view. “I think they are quite compelling to anyone,” veteran agent Bill Neff said. “If I’m (a top free agent), I like the culture, the coach and the organization.”
  • As expected, injured point guard Goran Dragic remains doubtful to play in Game 5 of the Finals on Friday due to his torn plantar fascia. On a positive note, Bam Adebayo no longer appears on the injury report after playing in Game 4, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Southwest Notes: Louzada, Burke, Rockets, Crowder

The Sydney Kings of Australia’s NBL announced Wednesday that Pelicans’ 2019 second-round pick Didi Louzada will be returning for his second season (Twitter link). The Brazilian wing player had confirmed the news of him coming back to Sydney a couple of hours earlier (Twitter link).

Last season as a rookie, the 21-year-old Louzada averaged 11.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG for Sydney. The NBL’s 2020-21 season is scheduled to begin in December and will wrap up in April.

Matt Logue of The Telegraph reported that Louzada can make his NBA debut at any time as the Pelicans own his draft rights. As things stand, there’s not a set date on when the 2020/21 NBA regular season will begin.

Here’s more from across the Southwest Division:

  • Before he joined the Mavericks in the bubble this summer, Trey Burke battled COVID-19, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas News. The veteran guard discussed his trials and tribulations with the virus, including being quarantined for weeks in a Dallas hotel. “At this point, it was like 21, 22 days,” Burke said. “I was really concerned at that point because I was thinking my career was in jeopardy. I needed an opportunity before the bubble, and Dallas, a team I’m familiar with, calls me, and I can’t get to the bubble because of coronavirus.” The former first-round pick was eventually cleared to join Dallas in Orlando after his 25th day of quarantine.
  • With Mike D’Antoni not returning next season, the Rockets are beginning their search for a new head coach, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday that Houston has received permission to interview Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr. and Mavericks assistant coach Stephen Silas. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle initially reported the Rockets’ interest in both assistant coaches, along with five other head coaching candidates.
  • At NBA Finals Media Day on Tuesday, Heat forward Jae Crowder spoke about his brief time with the Grizzlies this season, writes Mark Giannotto of Commercial Appeal. The veteran forward explained how he had to take on more of a leadership role for the young Grizzlies’ team. “Being in Memphis, I took on a different role. I took on a role I’d never taken on before in an NBA locker room,” he said. “And that’s just being a main leader, being a main vocal point, being the main guy who the young guys can lean on.” Crowder was acquired by Miami in a multi-player trade at February’s trade deadline.

Heat Notes: Butler, UD, Wade, Riley

Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler has emerged as the leader of a team two games away from the NBA Finals this season. His departures from his prior three teams painted a different picture of his personality.

In a revealing piece, ESPN’s Nick Friedell takes a look at Butler through the eyes of teammates, coaches, front office executives, and team owners past and present, navigating historic quotes that cover Jimmy’s debut in the league all the way through his current standing as one of its premiere players.

There’s more out of South Beach today:

  • Butler’s uniqueness as a team-first All-Star has made scoring a lesser priority for him. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel examines whether Butler can be a dominant scorer for the Heat, especially in the first halves of games, in the rest of the postseason.
  • Veteran Heat power forward Udonis Haslem credits the father of teammate Jae Crowder, Corey, with his 17-season NBA career. After going undrafted in 2002, Haslem headed to France, where he linked up with the elder Crowder as both played for French club Chalon-sur-Saône. After Haslem began dominating team practices, he found encouragement from Crowder to try again at the next level. “That’s when I told him, ‘You’ve got to get to the NBA,’” Corey Crowder said.
  • As Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald recaps, former Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade spoke on 790 The Ticket’s Tobin & Leroy Show about the Heat’s youth movement this season and the future of longtime Heat mastermind Pat Riley, who is 75. “I think [Riley’s] going to be around [well after this season],” Wade said. “His office is going to still be his office. Even if he’s not in that position, he’s still going to come into practice everyday. This is his life. This is what he loves. This is him. I don’t see him going anywhere.”

Heat Notes: Roster, Haslem, ECF

Zach Lowe of ESPN tracks the Heat‘s impressive front office maneuvering that took them from the lottery in 2015 back to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2020, despite having traded away a number of their draft picks during that time. Lowe applauds the team’s savvy drafting of All-Star Bam Adebayo and potential future All-Star shooting specialist Tyler Herro in the 2017 and 2019 drafts, respectively.

“The doubt was whether [Adebayo] could really do much on offense,” said Heat senior adviser of basketball operations Chet Kammerer. “I just felt like, with his love for the game and his work ethic, he’s going to be OK in that area.”

The Heat also hit on three undrafted free agent role players in point guard Kendrick Nunn this season, shooting guard Duncan Robinson last year, and forward Derrick Jones Jr. in 2017 after a brief stint with the Suns. Miami was apparently one of two contenders for Dorian Finney-Smith after the 2016 draft, but lost out to the Mavericks.

Of course, All-Star Jimmy Butler was the key addition this offseason. During the 2016/17 “Three Alphas” Bulls season – when Dwyane Wade teamed up with Butler and Rajon Rondo in Chicago – Wade and Butler discussed just how special the much-ballyhooed “Heat culture” really was. That conversation apparently set the stage for Butler prioritizing the Heat above all other suitors in free agency during the summer of 2019, despite Miami lacking any room to sign a maximum-salaried free agent. Miami made a four-team sign-and-trade for the team’s now-top star.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • The Heat’s playoff-ready roster, comprised by acquiring key under-regarded prospects and never fully bottoming out, is also examined by HoopsHype’s Frank Urbina in another quality piece.
  • 17-season Heat lifer Udonis Haslem, a crucial role player for each of Miami’s three titles, remains noncommittal on whether or not 2019/20 will prove to be his final season as a player, per Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “There is a value and a need for me here,” Haslem said. “It doesn’t have to be the way that everybody thinks it should be. If I have to put on a suit and stand on the sideline, just because everybody else thinks I should. I found value in this locker room, and I’ve been able to move the needle and help us win games, and that’s what it’s all about.”
  • Ahead of the first game of the Heat’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Celtics, we asked you who you expected to advance to the NBA Finals from Eastern Conference. As of this writing, the third-seeded Celtics have received 54% of over 1,300 votes.

Northwest Notes: Millsap, Whiteside, Anthony, Jazz, Thunder

Paul Millsap has perked up in the conference semifinals and he’s hoping the Nuggets re-sign him, he told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Millsap will head into unrestricted free agency this offseason. After just one double-digit scoring outing in the seven-game series against Utah, he’s averaging 10.5 PPG and 5.2 RPG against the Clippers.

“My main goal coming here was to help this team and organization get over the hump and help some of these younger guys develop into superstars, which they are,” the Nuggets’ big man said. “I feel like I’ve helped through that, and we’ll see what this summer holds. … It’s going to be a tough decision and hopefully they want me back.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers should let backup center Hassan Whiteside and Carmelo Anthony depart in free agency, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Whiteside was merely a stopgap while Jusuf Nurkic recovered from a serious injury, and re-signing Anthony would take valuable minutes away from Zach Collins, in Quick’s view. Miami’s Jae Crowder would be an intriguing forward for the Blazers to pursue with their mid-level exception, Quick adds.
  • The Jazz face a very difficult offseason as they look to go from good to great, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Their GM, Dennis Lindsey, acknowledges that finding ways to move up in the rugged West won’t be simple. “This league is not an easy league,” Lindsey said. “The world’s best coaches and players, everyone is reaching for the same prize. Our team wasn’t as good from a point differential as our previous two teams. We were better at closing games this season, and that offense can be a little more stable in the playoffs.”
  • The Thunder have shown patience with their head coaches and that could help them in their search for a new one, according to Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. P.J. Carlesimo, Scott Brooks and Billy Donovan are the only head coaches the franchise has employed since moving to Oklahoma City 12 years ago.

Heat Notes: Rebuild, Crowder, Nunn, Riley

Pat Riley‘s decision to pursue an accelerated rebuild over a “process” has allowed the Heat to make the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2014, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com writes.

Riley, as Windhorst notes, always approaches his job as team president in a highly competitive manner. The Heat typically don’t fixate on a slow process, rebuild or “tank.” Rather, the organization maintains a winning culture and mentality every season — regardless of the circumstances.

“You know me, I’m all about now,” Riley said earlier this season, as relayed by Windhorst. “We’re going to press on and we’re not going to stop.”

Riley acquired star forward Jimmy Butler in a four-way trade last summer, solidifying the team’s stance of competing for a title now. Miami has exceeded expectations thanks to the rapid improvements of Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, along with the trade deadline acquisitions of Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. Thus, the club’s first trip to the conference finals in six seasons.

“Miami’s strategy is always to be as good as possible every season,” one league executive said told Windhorst. “They are studs at team building. But you have to acknowledge that strategy also led them to miss the playoffs in three of the last five years.” 

Here are some other notes out of Miami:

  • Jae Crowder has officially found his footing after being traded to the team earlier this year, a re-occurring theme in the 30-year-old’s professional career, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Crowder has been traded a total of six times since entering the league in 2012. “I look at it like this,” he said, “this is what keeps me going: You see a lot of guys who are being traded and they get waived once they get to the team. That’s never happened in my career. So once I’ve gotten traded, I’ve been able to sustain a role. I’ve been wanted. I feel like another team wants me. I just think that speaks of my work. I don’t look at it as bad thing. I don’t get frustrated with the process, because I feel like I’ve every team I went to, I’ve had a role to play.”
  • Winderman examines whether Kendrick Nunn‘s stock is in the rise in his latest “Ask Ira’ mailbag. Nunn, the runner-up for the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year award, contracted COVID-19 this summer and struggled to get back into his old form during the restart, but the 25-year-old is also starting to find his footing as the back-up point guard behind Goran Dragic.
  • The Pat Riley-Danny Ainge rivalry is set to add another chapter with the Heat and Celtics meeting in the conference finals, Windhorst writes in a separate story for ESPN. Both executives share a strong rivalry going back to their playing days, more recently with Riley’s Heat beating Ainge’s Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals and Ainge beating Riley in the race to sign Gordon Hayward in 2017.

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.

Rajon Rondo, Lakers, 34, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $5.2MM deal in 2019

Just when it seems that Rondo’s career is winding down, he reinforces how effective he can be when he’s healthy. Rondo was an afterthought when play resumes, as he was still recovering from a busted right hand. Coach Frank Vogel didn’t hesitate to give Rondo a large role once he was ready to play again in the conference semifinals. Rondo piled up 10 points, nine assists and five steals in the Lakers’ Game 2 win over Houston and 21 points and nine assists in Game 3. He came up two assists shy of a triple-double in Game 4. Rondo has a $2.62MM player option for next season. He’s given himself the flexibility of opting out and getting a better offer in free agency.

Jae Crowder, Heat, 30, SF (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $35MM deal in 2015

Crowder has played a major role in the Heat’s surprising run to the Eastern Conference semifinals. His defense against Giannis Antetokounmpo and 3-point shooting were instrumental as Miami knocked off the top seed. He averaged 15.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 2.2 APG in 33.6 MPG and made 43.2% of his shots during the conference semifinals. When Miami acquired Crowder from the Grizzlies before the trade deadline, it was assumed Andre Iguodala would make the biggest impact. Instead, Crowder has re-established his value. He’ll attract plenty of attention on the free agent market and could get a full mid-level from a playoff contender.

Mason Plumlee, Nuggets, 30, C (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $41MM deal in 2017

Plumlee got steady playing time as Nikola Jokic’s backup during the regular season, averaging 7.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 2.5 APG in 17.3 MPG. As the playoffs have progressed, Plumlee’s minutes have plummeted and so has his confidence. Even with his six-point outing in Game 5 against the Clippers on Friday, the big man is averaging more fouls (2.2) than points (1.6) in 10.3 MPG uring the postseason. That, plus the fact Plumlee doesn’t stretch defenses, complicates his ability to find a home in unrestricted free agency this offseason. Plumlee will probably be staring at veteran’s minimum offers, a far cry from what he received three years ago.

Stanley Johnson, Raptors, 24, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $7.4MM deal in 2019

Johnson’s representatives did their client a big favor by securing a player option on the second year of his contract. It would be foolhardy for Johnson to pass up the guaranteed $3.8MM and test the free agent waters, considering he’s spent most of the season at the end of Toronto’s bench. Johnson’s postseason minutes have consisted of three late-game appearances in blowouts. He wasn’t in the rotation throughout the regular season, either. Johnson was the eighth pick of the 2015 draft and his first team, Detroit, is still lamenting the fact it picked him instead of Devin Booker, Myles Turner or Justise Winslow.

Brad Wanamaker, Celtics, 31, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.44MM deal in 2019

Coaches often shorten their rotations during the postseason but Wanamaker has continued to receive steady bench minutes from coach Brad Stevens. He’s averaged 5.8 PPG and 1.7 APG in 17.8 MPG and made the most of his limited 3-point opportunities (52.6%). Wanamaker, who spent most of his career overseas, re-signed with the Celtics last season on a minimum deal. He’s a restricted free agent but his qualifying offer of $1.82MM is peanuts by NBA standards. He’s improved his chances of the Celtics extending that offer, unless they have their eyes on another free agent point guard to back up Kemba Walker.