Jimmy Butler

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Butler, Power Forward, Martin, Haslem

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra discussed many training camp-related topics this week, including who may start at power forward this season, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. As of now, it seems unlikely Jimmy Butler will slide up to the four.

“My thing with that is I would love to be able to, at some point in Jimmy’s career, just start him at all five positions,” Spoelstra joked. “I’ve already started him at point guard. I’ve started him at his natural position, the three. I’ve started him at the two. I’ve definitely played him at the four, and he’ll play some four this year, not likely starting him there.

“But, man, that’d be cool to start him at the four at some point, whether it’s this year or the future. And then, for sure, start him at the five. That would be a great legacy. But Jimmy is a brilliant competitor and basketball player. He’ll make it work no matter what position we have him at. But playing him at his strengths is important to him and to me and to the team.”

As Chiang notes, Butler has already made it clear that he doesn’t want to replace P.J. Tucker at the four. Other contenders for the team’s power forward spot include Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Bam Adebayo — though Adebayo would only make sense if Omer Yurtseven or Dewayne Dedmon start at center.

Here are some other notes from Miami today:

  • Spoelstra appreciates the “ambition” of so many players who want to start this season, Chiang writes in a separate article for the Miami Herald. Other potential starters include Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus — all of whom believe they’re worthy of that role. Herro easily has the best case, averaging 20.7 points on his way to winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season.
  • Martin, who also spoke about the team’s open starting forward slot, suggested that anyone who questions his ability to fill the role is showing some disrespect. “To me, it’s kind of a sign of disrespect a little bit that people are so worried about it,” he said, as relayed by Anthony Chiang. Of course, Martin is only 6’5″ and 205 pounds, so it’s understandable for fans to question whether he can play heavy minutes at power forward.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines a number of Heat topics, including why Udonis Haslem doesn’t want to get into coaching. Haslem is entering his 20th NBA season. He has served as a valuable locker room presence in recent years, but has only played a combined 18 games over the past three seasons.

Heat Notes: Butler, Martin, Strus, Herro, Lowry

There’s been plenty of speculation this offseason that with the current makeup of the Heat’s roster that Jimmy Butler will play a lot of minutes at power forward. That’s not a prospect he relishes, he indicated during the team’s media day on Monday (link via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald).

“I could play the four, yes,” Butler said with a smile. “If they absolutely need me to play the four, I could, yes. If they absolutely wanted to have a conversation about me playing the four, I could, yes. But I’m not playing the four.”

Caleb Martin might be the early favorite to get the starting nod and he’d “love to start” at power forward, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. However, Martin is mainly concerned with being a part of the rotation.

“As long as I’m playing and can be productive, that’s fine,” Martin said, adding that he’s “flattered” that the team passed up on signing or trading for another power forward.

We have more on the Heat as they enter training camp:

  • At 6’5”, Max Strus wouldn’t seem like an option to start at the “four” spot. He’s open to do anything that would make him a part of the lineup, Jackson adds. “Obviously I want to be starting again,” he said. “That’s my goal.” In part due to injuries to team members, Strus started 16 regular season and all 18 postseason contests last season. “You don’t start in the Eastern Finals and be considered a bad basketball player,” he said.
  • Sixth Man of the Year award winner Tyler Herro expressed a desire after the playoffs to be a starter this season. Herro, a rookie scale extension candidate, has softened that stance, Chiang notes. “I’m a team player,” Herro, 22, said. “Whatever (coach Erik Spoelstra) and our organization wants me to do, I’m willing to do. Obviously, I have my own personal goals. But at the end of the day, the team is always over what I want to do as an individual player. So whatever they want me to do, whatever role they think fits me best, that’s what I’ll do.”
  • In June, team president Pat Riley said Kyle Lowry needed to improve his conditioning. Lowry took that criticism with a grain of salt, saying he didn’t do anything differently this offseason and said his conditioning is “not a problem,” Jackson relays in a separate story“Honestly, he has his opinion,” Lowry said. “Right? Everyone has their opinion and it doesn’t do anything for me. All I do is motivate myself, I always motivate myself.”

Eastern Notes: Irving, Arcidiacono, Butler, Martin, Wizards

Kyrie Irving sees a silver lining in the sour way the Nets’ season ended. Irving said on the “Nets Kingdom” podcast that Brooklyn “needed” to go through the embarrassment of getting swept in the playoffs (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports).

“It was meant to happen like that. Motivation, bro,” the Nets guard said. “We needed that humbling experience, especially going against the Celtics. It was already built to be that matchup. We’re going to see them again.”

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Ryan Arcidiacono’s contract with the Knicks is a standard, non-guaranteed minimum for one year, and doesn’t include an Exhibit 10 clause, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. The Knicks signed the 28-year-old guard on Saturday. He appeared in 10 games with the Knicks last season.
  • A couple of scouts interviewed by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald believe Jimmy Butler is the best option as the starting power forward for the Heat with Caleb Martin coming off the bench. However, there are concerns about Butler wearing down by playing that position.
  • The Wizards aren’t likely to sign a player to their open two-way slot until the end of training camp, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets.  Team officials would prefer to see how potential candidates perform in the preseason and whether there’s a better option on the waiver wire. Jordan Schakel has the other two-way spot.

Heat Notes: Oladipo, Martin, Salary Cap, Butler

The Heat are investing $15MM+ this season in Victor Oladipo and Caleb Martin in the hopes that both players can build on their encouraging 2021/22 runs. While Miami is certainly hoping guard Oladipo can get closer to his pre-injury All-Star heights this season, and that the 6’5″ Caleb Martin can convincingly play significant minutes as the team’s power forward, the team has a variety of other options to pick up the slack on its roster if neither scenario comes to pass, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

As Winderman observes, guards Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, and Gabe Vincent make up a threatening backcourt rotation with or without Oladipo stepping up, and 6’7″ small forward Jimmy Butler will most likely at least finish games as Miami’s power forward.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • On the heels of the news that the league’s salary cap is on track to increase over $10MM to a projected $134MM for 2023/24, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes that the Heat still won’t have much flexibility to add new players, given the $132.4MM Miami has locked in for just its five best players with guaranteed deals that season. Assuming Herro reaches a contract extension agreement with the club and a few other contracts remain on the team’s books, the club could quite possibly exceed the expected $162MM tax threshold in 2023/24, according to Jackson, who opines that the best way for Miami to make upgrades will be through trades, not free agency.
  • Butler was awarded a 93 overall player rating, the ninth-best among all players in the new video game NBA 2K23, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman notes that Butler’s score ties him with fellow All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Ja Morant.

Heat Notes: Schedule, Butler, Herro

If the Heat needed any extra motivation heading into the 2022/23 season, the NBA’s newly released TV schedule should provide some, Ira Winderman writes for The Sun Sentinel.

As Winderman outlines, despite making it to within one game of the NBA Finals last season, Miami will make just 11 appearances on TNT, ESPN, and ABC in ’22/23. By comparison, the Lakers, who missed the play-in tournament, will have 27 such games; the Sixers, whom the Heat defeated in the second round of the postseason, will have 23.

The Heat are also the only one of the NBA’s eight teams that made the conference semifinals last season that won’t be in action on Christmas Day, Winderman observes within his breakdown of the club’s schedule.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • Could Jimmy Butler emerge as the Heat’s go-to option at power forward following the free agent departure of P.J. Tucker? Winderman explores that subject in a Sun Sentinel mailbag, noting that it could work in certain matchups and would help unlock the team’s perimeter potential, as long as Butler is comfortable with it.
  • While things could change between now and the October 17 deadline, the Heat are showing no urgency at this point to get a rookie scale extension done with Tyler Herro, Winderman says in another Sun Sentinel article. As we explained on Wednesday, extending Herro would activate the “poison pill provision,” which would make it extremely difficult to trade him during the 2022/23 league year. As Winderman writes, not extending Herro this offseason would leave in-season trade options open and would put the Heat in position to re-sign him as a restricted free agent next summer if he remains on the roster.
  • Be sure to check out our Miami Heat page for all the latest updates on the team, including Udonis Haslem continuing to weigh his decision for 2022/23 and the Heat and Spurs being scheduled to play a game in Mexico City in December.

Southeast Notes: Oladipo, Durant, Wagner, Maker

Victor Oladipo, who re-signed with the Heat this summer on a two-year deal worth approximately $18MM, has only appeared in 12 regular season games since he was acquired from Houston at the 2021 trade deadline, but he’s ready to return to top form, he told Vince Carter on the VC podcast (hat tip to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald).

He’s calling it his “Revenge Tour.”

“When I say revenge, I’m taking about God’s revenge,” Oladipo said. “They messed up my surgery, I sat back. I tore my quad, I sat back. But now it’s my time to rise, I truly believe that. So that’s the revenge tour. That’s what it’s all about. It’s one day at a time, it’s a constant grind every day. That’s what I’m focused on doing.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kevin Durant‘s ultimatum to the Nets could be a potential boost for the Heat in trade talks, Chiang speculates. Brooklyn might decide to lower its asking price before having the awkward situation drags into training camp. The Heat have been unwilling to part with center Bam Adebayo or Jimmy Butler in a Durant deal. Adebayo is not currently eligible to be included in a Durant trade unless the Nets also trade Ben Simmons to the Heat or another team due to the Designated Rookie Extension rule. Miami’s current trade package would be highlighted by Tyler Herro.
  • Magic big man Moritz Wagner won’t play for Germany in the World Cup qualifiers or FIBA ​​EuroBasket 2022 due to an ankle injury, according to Eurohoops.net. The severity of the ankle injury wasn’t revealed but Wagner expressed disappointment that he won’t be able to participate. “The fact that my ankle isn’t healed is difficult to accept at first, but it’s part of the game,” he said in a statement released by the German federation. “This team is special and I’m looking forward to watching the boys play and supporting them.”
  • The plan for Makur Maker is to play with the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, during the upcoming season,  Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. Maker was signed to an Exhibit 10 contract on Wednesday. The contract will allow Maker to receive a bonus worth up to $50K if he’s waived during the preseason and then spends at least 60 days as an affiliate player.

Latest On Kevin Durant

After speaking to “a couple” NBA general managers, Marc J. Spears of ESPN (video link via Talkin NBA) outlined during an appearance on NBA Today what sort of return the Nets are seeking as they explore the trade market for Kevin Durant.

“A young or future All-Star,” Spears said, “lots of picks, the ability to swap picks, and another starter.”

Spears went on to say that Durant “might not have as much control of the situation as one would think,” not only because he has four years left on his contract but because there are so many teams involved in the bidding. According to Spears, about half the league’s clubs remain interested.

Here’s more on Durant:

  • Sam Amick of The Athletic explains that Phoenix is Durant’s preferred destination in part because of his close relationship with Monty Williams, who was an assistant for the Thunder in 2015/16. The bond between the two men grew deeper after Williams’ wife was killed in a car accident in February 2016, Amick writes.
  • While Phoenix may be atop Durant’s wish list, Amick has gotten the sense that the Nets would want something more – or something “different” – than a Suns package headlined by Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Cameron Johnson is a player who might help move the needle for the Nets, Amick adds. However, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) suggests that any deal between the Suns and Nets would likely see Phoenix giving up the maximum amount of first-round picks (four) and pick swaps (three).
  • The Heat are also on Durant’s wish list, but Amick says the former MVP would only want to play on a Miami team that features Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kyle Lowry. Amick is understandably skeptical that a package centered around Tyler Herro would gain any momentum.
  • The Nets have been “emboldened” by the returns in the Rudy Gobert and Dejounte Murray trades, which both included multiple unprotected first-round picks, Adrian Wojnarowski said during an appearance on ESPN’s televised NBA Free Agency Special on Friday evening. Wojnarowski added that he doesn’t believe the Nets are in any rush to make a deal, since they want to fully assess all their options.
  • Wojnarowski also said during ESPN’s NBA Free Agency Special (video link) that he believes the Raptors are “lurking” as a possible suitor for Durant, given their combination of players and draft picks, as well as their track record for making this sort of deal (for Kawhi Leonard in 2018).

Heat Rumors: Tucker, Portis, Lowry, Crowder

Heat players are reportedly lobbying free agent forward P.J. Tucker to remain with the team, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, who says All-Star wing Jimmy Butler, in particular, is “very much hoping” Tucker returns to Miami.

However, James Harden‘s decision to opt out of a $47MM+ salary for next season and likely sign a new deal starting at a lower number is the latest indication that the Sixers are a serious threat to lure Tucker to Philadelphia. Harden’s move clears a path for Philadelphia to offer its full mid-level exception to Tucker.

If Tucker does leave, the Heat will be in the market for a power forward, and T.J. Warren, Kyle Anderson, Thaddeus Young, and Nicolas Batum will be among the free agents on their radar, Jackson writes. A Wednesday report indicated the club would likely also have interest in Danilo Gallinari if he’s waived after being traded by San Antonio.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Jackson hears from a source that Miami would be a team that appeals to Bobby Portis if he decides to leave Milwaukee. But Portis is considered likely to stick with the Bucks, while the Heat are reluctant to hard-cap themselves for the season by giving their full mid-level exception to a free agent, so it’s an unlikely match.
  • Jackson also hears that Kyle Lowry wasn’t upset by Pat Riley‘s end-of-season comments about how his conditioning must improve. The Heat have assured Lowry they have no intention of trading him in a deal for Kyrie Irving, Jackson adds.
  • After saying that the Heat had emerged as the frontrunners to trade for Suns forward Jae Crowder, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter links) walked back that report. As Gambadoro explains, he can’t see Phoenix taking on Duncan Robinson‘s contract, and the Heat don’t have any other obvious salary-matching pieces they’d include in an offer for Crowder.

Heat Notes: Lowry, Butler, Tucker, Strus

Kyle Lowry looks at the Heat’s loss in the conference finals as a “waste” of a season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Lowry missed eight postseason games due to a hamstring injury and struggled to regain the form that made him so effective in Toronto.

“I wish I would have been able to play a little bit better, at a higher level, but I didn’t,” Lowry said. “It just adds fuel. You don’t know how many more opportunities you will have to get back to this, so for me, honestly it was a waste of a year. “I only play to win championships. It was fun, and I appreciate my teammates, and I appreciate the opportunity. But for me, it’s a waste of a year. You’re… not winning a championship, it’s a wasted year.”

Lowry has two years left on his three-year, $85MM contract.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler scored a combined 82 points in Games 6 and 7 but the Heat still came up short. He vows that Miami will be back in the Eastern Conference Finals again next season, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “We had enough (pieces),” Butler said. “Next year, we will have enough and we’re going to be right back in the same situation, and we’re going to get it done.”
  • P.J. Tucker only played 17 minutes in Game 7 and coach Erik Spoelstra hinted it was injury-related, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Tucker had been listed on the injury report with left knee irritation but it’s unclear if that was the issue. Tucker can opt out of his $7.35MM contract for next season and become a free agent this summer.
  • Max Strus had a 3-pointer overturned after several minutes of game action during the third quarter of Game 7. The NBA replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey deemed that Strus was out of bounds. Spoelsta was frustrated about the length of time between the shot and the overturn decision, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “I’m sure they will look at that, and we’ll probably be the case study for it,” Spoelstra said. “I’m OK if it happens the way it used to. They would look at it at the next foul or break and look at it and notice it, but it was probably 10 minutes of real time — somebody check on that.”

Jayson Tatum Wins Larry Bird Trophy As Eastern Finals MVP

Following the Celtics‘ dramatic victory over the Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, Jayson Tatum was named the Most Valuable Player of the series, making him the first-ever winner of the Larry Bird Trophy, according to the league (Twitter press release).

The NBA introduced the award earlier this month in an effort to honor the players who played crucial roles in leading their teams to the Finals. Last week, Warriors star Stephen Curry became the first player to win the Magic Johnson Trophy award as the MVP of the Western Conference Finals.

Tatum averaged 25.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.6 assists per game over the course of the seven-game series vs. Miami, playing big minutes (40.8 MPG) and putting up a shooting line of .462/.353/.860. He only had one poor performance in the series, when he scored just 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting and turned the ball over six times in Game 3. He scored at least 22 points in the other six games.

The award was voted on by nine local and national media members who were covering the series. Tatum earned eight of nine votes, with Heat star Jimmy Butler receiving the only other vote, from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

Butler averaged 25.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 2.0 SPG, and looked like the best player on the court in several games of the series — he was limited by a knee injury and scored just 27 total points from Games 3 to 5, but averaged 38.0 PPG in Games 1, 2, 6, and 7. He likely would’ve been the unanimous MVP pick if Miami had won the series.

Tatum will look to carry over his Eastern Finals success into the NBA Finals vs. the Warriors. The series will tip off in Golden State on Thursday — the full schedule can be found right here.