James Johnson

Southeast Notes: Incentives, Gortat, Kidd-Gilchrist

The Heat found a creative way to pad the contracts of their offseason signees, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes, by loading the deals with impressive bonuses and incentives. Dion Waiters, for example, can net over $1M in addition to his traditional $11M deal by simply appearing in 70 or more games this season.

While Waiters only appeared in 46 contests last year, thereby making this an “unlikely” incentive, he played in 70-plus in each of the four seasons prior to 2016/17. Other sorts of bonuses offered include one that would reward Kelly Olynyk should the Heat make the playoffs and another that would sweeten James Johnson‘s deal provided he meets certain body-fat measurement requirements.

Such contractual maneuvers aren’t new for the franchise, Winderman writes, noting that the Heat employed similar tactics, tying routine weigh-ins to retired point guard Tim Hardaway‘s deals.

Incentives are officially classified as “unlikely” if the condition was not met in the previous season. Unlikely incentives do not count toward a team’s salary cap at the time of the signing but they do at the end of the season if the conditions are met. This allowed the Heat flexibility to successfully juggle their returning free agents.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards decided this offseason to stick with their plan of gradually developing their young core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. While they may have been able to skip the line in the East by going out and acquiring an additional star, the Wizards’ patience could pay off in the long run.
  • A healthy Ian Mahinmi will eat into Marcin Gortat‘s role with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. At the end of last season, Gortat expressed doubt about his future in Washington, though he said last month that he’s fully committed to the franchise.
  • Without being asked, head coach Steve Clifford has reiterated that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start at small forward for the Hornets, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes. Concern over the 23-year-old’s offense has some wondering if he may be better suited for a reserve role.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Wizards, Babbit

The contract extension that 2015 second-round pick Josh Richardson is eligible for with the Heat would value him similarly to NBA role players Matthew Dellavedova and Cristiano Felicio, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

Considering that Richardson is an established high character rotation piece already familiar with the Heat’s system, such an investment wouldn’t exactly be excessive.

Through two seasons with the Heat, Richardson has averaged 8.4 points on .374 shooting from beyond the arc. His length and ability to contribute on the defensive end make him one of the team’s most well-rounded assets.

As we wrote earlier this week, Richardson may be wise to wait until the June 2018 deadline before making his decision. If he doesn’t accept the four-year, $42MM extension with the Heat he’ll be a restricted free agent come July 1, 2018.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:


Cap/Salary Notes: Heat, Clippers, Sixers, Chalmers

When the Heat agreed to deals with Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, and James Johnson earlier this month, the reported terms of those agreements looked a little too high for the club to fit within its available cap room. At the time, it appeared the reported salary figures on those deals – $52MM for Waiters, $50MM for Olynyk, and $60MM for Johnson – could be inflated by possible incentives, while the base values ended up being a little smaller.

In the case of Waiters and Olynyk, that’s indeed the case. As Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details, the overall base value of Waiters’ four-year deal is approximately $47.3MM, while Olynyk’s is worth about $45.6MM overall. Pincus doesn’t yet have details on the unlikely incentives included in each contract, but if the terms reported initially are to be believed, it appears each player will have the opportunity to earn more than $1MM in incentives in each year of his new contract with the Heat.

Here are a few more cap, salary, and cash details courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Clippers sent $1.3MM to the Hawks as part of the three-way deal that landed Jamal Crawford in Atlanta, tweets Pincus. Meanwhile, the Clippers also paid $3.2MM to the Sixers to land the second-round pick that became Jawun Evans (Twitter link). That leaves the Clippers with just $600K available to send out in trades for the rest of the 2017/18 league year.
  • The Sixers can no longer receive cash in trades during the current league year, which runs through June 30, 2018. In addition to receiving $3.2MM from the Clippers, they were sent $1.9MM by the Bucks in exchange for the No. 46 pick (Sterling Brown), per Pincus (Twitter link). The limit for cash received in trades this season is $5.1MM.
  • Mario Chalmers is back in the NBA, but his contract suggests he doesn’t necessarily have job security quite yet. According to Pincus (Twitter link), only $25K of Chalmers’ minimum salary deal with the Grizzlies is currently guaranteed.
  • The Knicks sent $400K to the Kings as part of their “trade” that allowed them to hire Scott Perry away from Sacramento, tweets Pincus. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that the Kings and Knicks are now ineligible to trade with one another through the 2017/18 season. We saw that same restriction occur with the Clippers and Celtics a few years ago after L.A. sent Boston compensation to land Doc Rivers.

Celtics Officially Sign Gordon Hayward

JULY 14: Ten days after Hayward made his decision, he has formally signed his new maximum salary contract with the Celtics, the team confirmed today in a press release. Boston cleared the necessary cap room earlier today by waiving Jordan Mickey.gordonhayward vertical

JULY 4: Gordon Hayward has made it official. In a piece for The Players’ Tribune, Hayward has announced that he has decided to join the Celtics as a free agent. Hayward will receive a four-year maximum salary contract from Boston with a player option on the final year, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter links).

“After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics,” Hayward writes. “I know that will be tough to hear for Jazz fans — and I really want you all to know that you mean the world to me and my family. Over the past few days, I’ve been genuinely torn. And I know that this process isn’t easy on the fans, either. So I just want to be as straight-up as possible about why I’m coming to Boston.

“There were so many great things pulling me in that direction,” Hayward continued. “There was the winning culture of Boston, as a city — from the Sox, to the Pats, to the Bruins. There was the special history of the Celtics, as a franchise — from Russell, to Bird, to Pierce, and it goes on. There was the amazing potential of this current Celtics roster, as a team — from ownership, to the front office, to a talented roster with Isaiah, and Al, and everyone else. And of course, there was Coach [Brad] Stevens: Not just for the relationship that we’ve built off the court — but also for the one that we started building on the court, all of those years ago, in Indiana.”

It has been an eventful day for Hayward, as a report from Chris Haynes of ESPN indicating that Hayward planned to sign with the Celtics was shot down by other outlets, with Hayward’s agent Mark Bartelstein issuing a statement confirming that his client hadn’t finalized his decision. However, Haynes’ scoop proved accurate, with Hayward formally announcing his new team a few hours later.

By joining the Celtics, Hayward will be in line for a four-year contract worth $127,829,970, though he may end up not opting into that fourth year. By that point, he’ll have 10 years of NBA experience, which would put him in line for a new max deal worth 35% of the cap instead of his current 30%. That potential desire to opt out after year three reduced the importance of Utah’s ability to offer a fifth year.

Before they finalize the signing of Hayward, the Celtics will have to make a series of salary cap moves to create the necessary cap room for his lucrative new deal. In addition to renouncing their free agents, the C’s figure to pull Kelly Olynyk‘s qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent. Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson are candidates to be waived, and Boston will likely have to make at least one trade — Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, and Jae Crowder are among the candidates to be moved. Teams are already engaging the Celtics on possible deals, tweets Chris Mannix of The Vertical.

By adding Hayward, the Celtics made a big free agent splash for the second straight summer, having signed Al Horford a year ago. The team wasn’t able to land a second star like Jimmy Butler or Paul George via trade, but the reigning No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference has added an All-Star forward in Hayward and the No. 3 overall pick in Jayson Tatum, and still has a collection of future draft picks at its disposal, setting the franchise up very well for the future.

Hayward’s move to the Eastern Conference also comes at a time when most of the league’s stars who are changing teams are heading west. Butler is now in Minnesota, George is headed to Oklahoma City, and Paul Millsap will land in Denver. The talent drain in the East should give Hayward a clearer path to a spot in the NBA Finals, though Boston will still have to overcome LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

As for the other two teams involved in the Hayward sweepstakes, the Jazz are hit the hardest, having lost both Hayward and George Hill today. The team was able to add a replacement for Hill by acquiring Ricky Rubio last week, but replacing Hayward’s production will be much more difficult.

Still, now that they no longer need to accommodate a max deal for Hayward, the Jazz have some options. According to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), Utah has scheduled a meeting with Wizards RFA Otto Porter. However, Utah currently doesn’t have the cap space for a max offer for Porter, and moving contracts to open up that room would be risky, since the Wizards could match any offer.

Meanwhile, the Heat have a chunk of available cap room that they can now use on other players as well. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that Bartelstein, who also reps Miami free agent forward James Johnson, is “working on something” for Johnson and will talk with Pat Riley tonight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Officially Sign James Johnson

July 7, 7:47pm: The Heat have officially re-signed Johnson, the team announced over Twitter.

July 6, 10:00 PM: Johnson’s deal will be for four years and $60MM, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter links). Scotto adds that the contract contains a player option in the fourth season.James Johnson vertical

7:59 PM: The Heat and James Johnson have agreed on the framework of a four-year deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Johnson was widely expected to return to Miami.

Johnson floated around the league before signing a one-year deal with the Heat last offseason. He played a key role for Miami, earning 27.4 minutes per contest while serving as the team’s top perimeter defender.

The 30-year-old averaged double-digit scoring for the first time in his career (12.8 PPG) in 2016/17, and set new career-highs in RPG (4.9), APG (3.6), and 3PT% (.340).

The Heat struck out on bigger stars, such as Gordon Hayward, but rebounded by bringing in Kelly Olynyk and re-signing their own free agents.

The organization needs to clear cap space to accommodate lucrative deals for Olynyk, Johnson and Dion Waiters, and the team is working on moving Josh McRoberts to the Mavericks in order to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Sign Kelly Olynyk To Four-Year Deal

JULY 7, 3:19pm: The Heat have officially signed Olynyk, the team announced today in a press release.

“As soon as Kelly Olynyk became an unrestricted free agent, we pursued him,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “He is not only a post player, he can also play away from the basket. What we like the most is that he is a playmaker, tough defender and rugged rebounder. At just 26 years old, he fits in perfect with our young core that will play together in their primes.”

JULY 6, 6:45pm: The Heat have reached an agreement on a four-year contract with free agent center Kelly Olynyk, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that the deal is worth $50MM. Olynyk’s new deal will include a fourth-year player option, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter).Kelly Olynyk vertical

Because the Celtics withdrew Olynyk’s qualifying offer earlier this week, he’s an unrestricted free agent and can sign outright with Miami. Boston needed to clear the big man’s cap hold from its books in order to help create enough space for Gordon Hayward‘s new maximum salary deal with the team. Until Olynyk’s QO was rescinded, he had been a restricted free agent, but becoming unrestricted helped accelerate his market.

Olynyk, 26, appeared in 75 regular season games for the Celtics last season, averaging 9.0 PPG and 4.8 RPG and once again showed off an ability to make an outside shot (.368 career 3PT%). His most memorable performance in Boston came in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Wizards, when he helped the C’s seal the series with a 26-point outburst.

By signing with the Heat, Olynyk will join a frontcourt that needed a little depth, given Willie Reed‘s free agency. Veteran power forward James Johnson also reached the open market over the weekend, but Olynyk’s deal won’t preclude a new agreement with Johnson, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, who tweets that the team still intends to get something done with the unrestricted free agent.

Having now reached eight-figure deals with Olynyk and Dion Waiters, the Heat only have about $6MM in cap room left over, but could open up another $6MM+ by waiving Wayne Ellington‘s non-guaranteed contract and another $4MM or so by stretching Josh McRoberts‘ deal.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com reports (via Twitter) that the Mavericks and Heat have had discussions about a trade that would create more space for Miami, so it’s possible that Dallas is willing to take on McRoberts — Tyler Johnson would be the other logical trade candidate on the roster.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Celtics, Heat, Cavs, Wolves

Having landed Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have shifted their focus to adding a rim-protecting big man, and are showing interest in several free agents who fit that bill, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Currently, the Celtics could only offer the $4.3MM room exception, but if they clear more than the minimum space necessary for Hayward’s deal, they could potentially make a bigger offer.

Speaking of Hayward, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News talked at length with agent Mark Bartelstein about how and why his client’s free agency announcement turned into such a mess on Tuesday. As Genessy details, via Bartelstein, Hayward went back and forth between the Jazz and Celtics before making his final decision.

Here are more free agency updates from around the NBA:

  • Having reached a deal with Dion Waiters, the Heat have interest in bringing back James Johnson and Luke Babbitt as well, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Bartelstein, who is also Johnson’s agent, will talk to Pat Riley tonight, according to Jackson.
  • While Richard Jefferson, who is under contract for 2017/18, plans to return to the Cavaliers, James Jones may not, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Agent Joel Bell says that neither the Cavs nor Jones have made any decisions, but a source tells Vardon that Jones – who is a free agent – won’t be back in Cleveland next season.
  • The Timberwolves have touched base with veteran free agent Vince Carter, but there’s nothing “concrete” happening with him for now, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • The Mavericks are considering adding German power forward Maxi Kleber, per Sportando (Twitter link). Kleber expects to continue playing for Bayern Munich if he doesn’t make the jump to the NBA.

Mutual Interest Between James Johnson, Jazz

Having watched free agents Gordon Hayward and George Hill reach deals with other teams on Tuesday, the Jazz have shifted their focus to other targets. According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), James Johnson is one potential option for Utah — Johnson and the Jazz have mutual interest, says Jones.

[RELATED: Kings agree to sign George Hill]

Johnson, 30, had a breakout season for the Heat in 2016/17, averaging double-digit scoring for the first time in his career (12.8 PPG), and setting new career-highs in RPG (4.9), APG (3.6), and 3PT% (.340). He was also a major asset on the defensive end of the court, given his ability to guard multiple positions.

While Johnson certainly isn’t the scorer that Hayward is, he looks like a logical candidate for a Jazz team with a newly-opened hole at the forward spot. Utah also parted ways with Trey Lyles on draft night, so Johnson could help provide depth at both forward positions, and with Rodney Hood poised to take on a larger role after Hayward’s departure, Johnson wouldn’t be asked to shoulder much of the scoring load.

Still, Johnson remains a priority for the Heat, with a Tuesday report suggesting that the two sides were set to re-engage in the wake of Hayward’s decision not to head to South Beach. The Heat may have a leg up on the Jazz, since Miami has more cap room and has had a one-year headstart on building a relationship with the versatile forward.

Free Agent Rumors: Iguodala, Noel, Roberson, Ingles

The Heat are one of three teams scheduled to meet with free agent Gordon Hayward, which could put several free agency plans on hold. For Miami free agent James Johnson, being patient is not a problem, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes.

“I’m a patient guy,” Johnson said to Jackson at a recent golf tournament. “They can take as long as they want. My mindset is winning. I think Hayward can help us win and I’m all for it. They brought me here for a reason and I know they’re going after Hayward for a reason and I think his statistics and his numbers that he [produces], he fits in the best here.”

Johnson, 30, developed into a solid two-way player last season, averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and shot nearly 48% from the floor. However, if Miami does lure Hayward to South Beach, retaining both Johnson and Dion Waiters would be problematic from a financial standpoint. Stretching Josh McRoberts‘ salary and several other moves would have to be made to re-sign both players. However, Johnson has reiterated he does not mind waiting to see how the Heat’s plan develop.

Here are some other free agency rumors circulating around the NBA:

  • The Rockets‘ meeting with two-time NBA champion and free agent Andre Iguodala is scheduled for this morning, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN (via Twitter).
  • In a separate tweet, Haynes reports that the Knicks and Bucks have inquired on free agent swingman Ben McLemore.
  • Restricted free agent Nerlens Noel can speak to other teams, but appears very likely to remain in Dallas. It’s likely a matter of “how much and when” the Mavericks get a deal done with the swingman, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (via Twitter).
  • With Paul George headed to Oklahoma City, the Thunder are more likely to retain restricted free agent Andre Roberson, according to ESPN’s Royce Young (via Twitter).
  • The Nets have secured a meeting with free agent Joe Ingles, sources tell Adam Joseph of 16WingsARing (via Twitter).
  • We heard on Friday night that the Cavaliers have interest in Zach Randolph. That interest is mutual, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Western FA Rumors: Hayward, Gallinari, Clippers

Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey remains confident about his team’s chances to re-sign Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Joe Ingles, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. The team’s ability to bring back Hill and/or Ingles may be key to retaining Hayward.

Genessy reiterates (via Twitter) that Hayward really wants the Jazz to re-sign Hill, adding that his decision could hinge on that, while Sam Amick of USA Today notes (via Twitter) that Hayward and Ingles share an agent. Utah has been seeking a trade for a cheaper point guard to replace Hill, but may be hesitant to make such a move if it would make Hayward more likely to leave.

Here’s more on free agency from around the Western Conference, including another Hayward-related note:

  • Having previously said that he wouldn’t prioritize the Nuggets over any other suitor in free agency, Danilo Gallinari tells Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport that his goal is to remain with Denver, and will have one of his first meetings with the Nuggets. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando provides the English translation on the quotes from Gallinari, who also acknowledged that he won’t receive a maximum salary contract.
  • The Clippers want to hang onto Blake Griffin in free agency, but it’s not clear whether the team is prepared to put a five-year, maximum salary offer on the table for him, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
  • Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link) identifies Jonathon Simmons, Rudy Gay, Danilo Gallinari, P.J. Tucker, James Johnson, Joe Ingles, and Andre Iguodala as additional free agents of interest for the Clippers.
  • The Gordon Hayward sweepstakes are creating a battle amidst the Ainge family, as Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com details. Tanner Ainge, the son of Celtics president Danny Ainge, is running for Congress in Utah and has pushed for Hayward to remain with the Jazz.
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