Josh Richardson

Community Shootaround: Heat Roster Logjam

As we relayed earlier today, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is “sick” to his stomach about his inability to find minutes for veteran sharpshooter Wayne Ellington. And now that fellow guard and teammate Dion Waiters is set to return from his ankle injury, don’t expect playing time decisions to get any easier for Spoelstra.

Not counting Waiters or up-and-coming youngster Derrick Jones, the Heat already have 11 players on standard NBA contracts who log 20.5 minutes per game or more, the most of anyone in the league. And of those 12 players, seven are swingmen who play primarily on the wing (Josh RichardsonRodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Ellington, and Waiters).

In tonight’s blowout win against the Cavs, Wade logged a DNP-Illness, with the remainder of the minutes on the wing going to Richardson (32), Jones (31), Winslow (27), Johnson (26), McGruder (21), and Waiters (11).

With Wade back in the mix soon and Waiters presumably playing his way into more minutes, the question becomes whether the Heat will move on from some of the aforementioned players, such as Waiters or Ellington, or keep the roster logjam as currently constructed as insurance in the event of another injury.

That brings us to our question of the day: Do you think the Heat should try to move on from some of their wings or keep them all around for the rest of the 2018/19 season? If they alter their roster, who is the most likely wing to be moved? Ellington? Waiters? Somebody else?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in. We look forward to your input.

Heat Notes: Waiters, Ellington, Richardson, Wade

Dion Waiters is getting closer to making his season debut after having ankle surgery 12 months ago. The Heat tweeted this afternoon that Waiters will travel to Cleveland with the team and is listed as questionable for tomorrow night’s game.

Waiters spent the weekend practicing with Miami’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls and told Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel that he’s ready to play.

“It felt great. I feel great,” he said. “If you ask those guys out there, I don’t think I missed a shot, a lot of deep shots, too, a lot of attacking and making plays for other guys.”

The trip to Sioux Falls gave Waiters a chance to scrimmage against NBA veterans DeAndre Liggins, Briante Weber and Jarnell Stokes as he prepares for his first game action since December 22, 2017. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he received encouraging reports about Waiters’ performance.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • Waiters’ return will add to an already crowded backcourt and could provide more incentive to trade Wayne Ellington, Winderman suggests in a question-and-answer column. The 3-point specialist is playing just 22.7 minutes per night, his lowest total since coming to Miami, and could have more value as a trade chip than at the end of the rotation. Because he re-signed with the Heat over the summer on a one-year contract, Ellington has the power to veto any trade, but Winderman believes he would be willing to accept a deal that promises more playing time.
  • Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves reminded Josh Richardson that he spent the early part of the season hearing rumors that he was headed to Minnesota, Winderman writes in a separate story. The Wolves were reportedly close to acquiring Richardson as the key piece in a Jimmy Butler trade, but the Heat nixed the deal when Minnesota allegedly asked for more assets. “When your name is out there like that, I was just ready for whatever happened, really,” Richardson said. “I wanted to stay here. But if a move happened, then I was prepared.”
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald names Richardson the most improved athlete in his 2018 awards for South Florida sports. He chooses Dwyane Wade‘s return to the Heat as the best personnel move.

Heat Notes: 15th Man, Trade Options, Richardson

Even with Dwyane Wade back after his personal leave, the Heat find themselves a little short on backcourt playmakers, as Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters are all on the shelf due to various injuries. Miami has an open roster spot and could temporarily add a guard on a non-guaranteed contract to provide some depth, but has shown no interest in doing so for the time being.

While the luxury-tax penalties tied to any signing are surely a consideration for the Heat, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel suggests the team’s preference to stick with a 14-man roster for now is more about finding minutes for players who might otherwise be buried in Miami’s deep rotation.

As Winderman points out, adding a veteran point guard could have a domino effect on the rest of the lineup, potentially costing players like Wayne Ellington or even Bam Adebayo some playing time. It remains unclear when the Heat’s guards will return to action, but lengthy absences for Dragic and Johnson seem unlikely, so the club is in no rush to add reinforcements.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The 6-11 Heat have dropped nine of their last 12 games and the need for a roster shakeup in Miami has “never been more obvious,” writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The Heat will likely contact the Wizards to check in on players like John Wall and Bradley Beal, according to Jackson, who hears that Miami holds Beal in particularly high regard. However, Jackson suggests it’s hard to imagine the Heat putting together an appealing enough package for Beal, and they’d probably only have interest in Wall if they could dump a couple of their own unwanted contracts.
  • In a pair of Ask Ira features this week, Winderman dug into the Heat’s decision to sit Kelly Olynyk on Tuesday and explored the likelihood of a trade involving Wayne Ellington.
  • Earlier this week, Josh Richardson was fined $25K by the NBA for throwing his shoe into the stands during a loss to the Lakers, according to a press release from the league.

Heat Notes: Carmelo, Waiters, Richardson

While there has been some speculation that the Heat could be a landing spot for Carmelo Anthony once the Rockets officially waive or trade him, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes that the Heat’s offseason meeting with Anthony’s reps was initiated by Carmelo’s camp rather than Miami’s.

According to Jackson, there are some Heat basketball people who don’t think Anthony would be a particularly good fit, particularly with the club’s rotation already pretty crowded. Miami has also been trying to get its defense on track, and adding Carmelo to the mix likely wouldn’t help on that front.

The Rockets announced on Thursday that they’ve parted ways with Anthony, but have yet to make an official roster move with him. As I detailed this morning, there are plenty of reasons for Houston to wait to finalize anything, so the Heat should have some time to decide if they want to get involved.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • Dion Waiters‘ return to the court for the Heat still isn’t considered imminent, according to Jackson, who hears that conditioning remains an issue for the veteran guard even once he’s fully recovered from ankle surgery.
  • Jackson also circles back to the Heat’s involvement in the Jimmy Butler talks, confirming that the best offer the team made last month was Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, and a protected first-round pick. According to Jackson, after the Timberwolves passed on that offer, the Heat didn’t exactly pull Richardson off the table — they simply never returned to the table.
  • In case you missed it, we relayed a few more Heat-related notes on Wednesday.

Details On Rockets’, Pelicans’ Trade Offers For Butler

A report over the weekend indicated that the Timberwolves had three trade offers on the table for Jimmy Butler before ultimately deciding to pull the trigger on a Sixers package headlined by Robert Covington and Dario Saric. In their latest report for The Athletic, Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic provide some details on the other two offers Minnesota was considering, which came from the Rockets and Pelicans.

According to Charania and Krawczynski, the Rockets – who had previously offered four first-round picks attached to Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss – adjusted their proposal to make it more appealing to Tom Thibodeau, who remains in win-now mode. Houston’s offer featured Eric Gordon, Nene, and two first-round picks, sources told The Athletic. It’s not clear what sort of protections would have been on those first-rounders, or whether any other pieces were involved.

As for the Pelicans, they weren’t mentioned often over the last couple months as a serious suitor for Butler, but they were engaged in talks with Minnesota at the end of the process. Charania and Krawczynski report that New Orleans’ package was headlined by Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected first-round pick. Again, it’s unclear what other pieces would have been included in such a deal — Mirotic’s salary wouldn’t have been enough to match Butler’s on its own.

The full report from Charania and Krawczynski is excellent, providing a timeline of the Butler saga from mid-September right up until today. It’s worth checking out in full if you have a subscription to The Athletic.

Here are a few more highlights from the piece:

  • Friday’s game was viewed as a fork in the road for both the Timberwolves and Butler. We previously heard that Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden decided after that game that Butler had played his last game for the team — it sounds like Butler had made up his mind too. According to Charania and Krawczynski, the 29-year-old had decided to begin sitting out indefinitely after that game if Minnesota didn’t trade him.
  • Thibodeau subsequently told his staff after Friday’s game that they had to move Butler, sources tell The Athletic. In fact, the Timberwolves nearly held the All-NBA swingman out of Friday’s game because they already had traction on a potential deal.
  • The Heat‘s original offer for Butler included Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, and a draft pick, per Charania and Krawczynski. Miami later extended Winslow and put Josh Richardson into an offer. However, when a deal involving Richardson fell apart, the Heat pulled him off the table and never included him in another offer.

Woj’s Latest: Butler, Timberwolves, Thibodeau

In a piece regarding the final days of the Jimmy Butler saga in Minnesota, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN provides a closer look into the Timberwolves‘ front office and the back-and-forth that went down before the trade was finally completed. Let’s dive into some of the highlights he provides:

  • Tom Thibodeau sold Timberwolves‘ owner Glen Taylor on passing on the initial offer from the Heat centered around Josh Richardson because he believed that Pat Riley would come back with a better offer down the road (the Heat never returned with Richardson on the table in subsequent trade talks).
  • Taylor considered firing Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden this past summer before the Butler saga broke out and continues to think about the possibility of replacing both of them.
  • According to Woj, the Timberwolves desperately tried to find other trade partners throughout the past week, including reaching out to the Pelicans and Wizards, to no avail. The Wolves actually had “extensive” discussions with the Pels, but New Orleans wouldn’t offer Jrue Holiday or multiple draft picks. Washington, meanwhile wouldn’t offer Bradley Beal, which comes as no surprise.
  • The Sixers initially offered the Timberwolves their choice of Robert Covington and Dario Saric in an offer for Butler before eventually agreeing to include both players.
  • The Sixers believe they are operating out of a position of leverage when it comes to dealings with Butler. According to Woj, there are league executives that understand that Butler must be on his best behavior in order to get the full five-year max contract he desires this summer.

Latest On Jimmy Butler Trade To Philadelphia

The Timberwolves and Sixers agreed on Saturday to one of the biggest trades in recent years. Jimmy Butler is headed to Philadelphia, while Dario Saric and Robert Covington headline the package that Minnesota is receiving.

We have more news to pass along on this blockbuster:

  • Butler had shown an interest in Philadelphia long before Saturday. Butler scheduled a free agent meeting with the Sixers  in 2015, when they were still in the early stages of building a contender, before he re-signed with the Bulls, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • If Butler agrees to a max contract with Philadelphia, Markelle Fultz‘s long-term prospects with the organization would be in serious doubt, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. There are plenty of other questions regarding how Fultz fits with core group that Philadelphia has assembled and the team’s brass will closely monitor how all the personalities mesh, Lowe adds. The top 2017 pick is averaging just 8.9 PPG and 3.6 APG  in 24.3 MPG and will now have to compete with another All-Star for touches.
  • Minnesota avoided sending Butler to a Western Conference contender, one of the goals it set in trade talks involving the disgruntled swingman, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN notes (Twitter link). The Rockets had been mentioned prominently as a possible destination but even a package of four future first-round picks couldn’t entice the Timberwolves to send him to a conference rival. The Sixers became the most viable trade partner once the Heat pulled Josh Richardson out of trade discussions, Wojnarowski adds.
  • The Sixers were prepared to offer a similar package to the Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard this summer, Fischer reports in another tweet. Philadelphia was willing to give up Saric, Covington and a first-rounder to San Antonio before the Spurs opted to deal Leonard to the Raptors. The Spurs’ decision to decline the Sixers’ offer thus far seems like a wise move, considering Saric’s early shooting slump (30% from long range), Jabari Young of The Athletic tweets. Toronto’s package, with DeMar DeRozan as the centerpiece, has helped San Antonio get off to a 6-4 start despite a rash of injuries.
  • Buyout candidates will be even more intrigued to join the Sixers for the stretch run, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype tweets. Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli joined Philadelphia in that fashion last season, Kennedy adds, and the incentive for players seeking a ring to hop on Philadelphia’s bandwagon has dramatically increased.
  • The Timberwolves considered three offers from different teams before picking the Sixers’ package, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets.
  • Philadelphia will likely move J.J. Redick back into the starting lineup because his 3-point shooting will be needed on the first unit, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets.
  • The earliest that Butler could make his Sixers debut, once the trade is finalized, is Wednesday against the Magic, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Heat’s Josh Richardson Discusses Trade Rumors

Heat swingman Josh Richardson hasn’t expressed any dissatisfaction or requested a trade like Jimmy Butler has in Minnesota, but he has still been the subject of several trade rumors this fall since he’s viewed as the potential centerpiece of a Miami trade for Butler. Speaking to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Richardson acknowledged that the NBA is a “cutthroat business” but added that he’s trying not to let the speculation affect him.

“For like the first hour, I was hearing from everyone,” Richardson said, referring to when his name first came up in the Butler rumors. “But after that, it is what it is. I don’t get too much into it. When it first came out a little bit, yeah, it was hard to ignore.”

Richardson, who added that the trade chatter was “a distraction at first,” hasn’t demonstrated any signs of being bothered by those rumors during his first two games of the 2018/19 season. The 25-year-old has poured in 24.5 PPG to go along with 4.5 RPG and 4.0 APG so far, showing exactly why the Timberwolves insisted on including him in a potential deal for Butler.

Minnesota’s Butler trade talks are “mostly dormant” at the moment, and multiple reports have suggested that Heat president Pat Riley told his players before the season that he has pulled the plug on Miami’s involvement in those discussions — at least for now. With Butler still expected to be moved by the February trade deadline, Richardson isn’t totally safe in South Beach yet, but for the time being, he’s welcoming his increased role in the Heat’s offensive attack.

“I pretty much embrace it now,” Richardson said of being Miami’s leading man on offense, per Winderman. “I had a whole summer of it and at times it was like that last year. So I’m pretty much used to it.”

Heat Rumors: Butler, Trade Talks, 15-Man Roster

Reports earlier this week on the Jimmy Butler situation suggested that the Timberwolves nearly accepted a Heat offer that included Josh Richardson and a first-round pick, but ultimately asked Miami for more. A subsequent report indicated that Wolves owner Glen Taylor wasn’t responsible for turning down that offer.

During an appearance on Mason and Ireland, ESPN’s Jorge Sedano confirmed both stories, reporting that the Heat and Timberwolves got close to a trade that would have sent Butler to Miami for Richardson, a first-round pick, and Dion Waiters. The two teams even exchanged medical information for the players involved. However, according to Sedano, Tom Thibodeau asked the Heat for more draft picks, at which point Pat Riley called him a “motherf—er” and hung up on him (Twitter links).

For what it’s worth, a source familiar with the negotiations disputes that story, telling Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel that Riley insists he didn’t offer such a reaction. That source apparently didn’t deny the other details of those trade discussions though.

Here’s more on the Heat, including another note on their dealings with the Timberwolves:

  • Both Winderman and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald report that the Heat aren’t pushing to re-engage the Timberwolves in trade discussions involving Butler. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that a deal won’t happen, Miami sounds ready to move on and prepare for the season. Butler didn’t travel with the Wolves to Milwaukee, with Thibodeau telling reporters that the All-NBA swingman is in Minnesota working on his conditioning, adding that the situation remains “fluid” (Twitter link via Dane Moore of 1500ESPN).
  • The Heat typically carry a full 15-man roster into the regular season, but the team appears likely to open the 2018/19 campaign with just 14 players, as Winderman writes in another piece for The Sun Sentinel. According to Winderman, the Heat haven’t entered the season with fewer than 15 players on standard contracts since 2003/04. Luxury tax concerns likely play a major part in that decision this year — Miami is currently over the tax line by about $6.3MM.
  • In a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Chris Bosh explained that he still hopes to return to the NBA because he views his career as an “unfinished painting.” Bosh pointed specifically to his final season with the Heat, noting that he thought the team had the potential to win the East, but he didn’t get a chance to see it through.

Wolves Want Gordon, Tucker From Rockets For Butler

After their latest round of Jimmy Butler discussions with Miami came to a standstill over the weekend, the Timberwolves reached out to the Rockets again on Tuesday morning, a league source tells Stefano Fusaro of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Fusaro, talks between the Wolves and Rockets have yet to advance, since Minnesota wants both Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker in any deal, and Houston is unwilling to put Tucker on the table.

The Wolves’ asking price in negotiations with the Rockets doesn’t come as a surprise. With James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela sure to be unavailable, Gordon and Tucker are Houston’s next-best assets. Marc Stein of The New York Times suggested last week that the Rockets may have to package both veterans, along with at least one first-round pick, in order to have a real chance to land Butler.

On the other hand, it makes sense that the Rockets would balk at that request from Minnesota. Gordon and Tucker are crucial pieces in Houston’s lineup, and Tucker is an especially good fit in a system which values versatile players who can make three-pointers and defend multiple positions. Having already lost a pair of reliable veterans who fit that bill – Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – the Rockets presumably aren’t eager to part with another one, plus additional assets, even if it means acquiring Butler.

Fusaro’s report comes on the heels of a Tuesday story which quoted Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta speaking about Butler. Fertitta told SBNation that he and the Rockets would “love to have” the Houston native if the price is right, a comment that seems likely to earn the owner a tampering fine.

Meanwhile, in other Butler news, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN tweets that he has “zero sense” that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor balked at a Heat offer that featured Josh Richardson, a first-round pick, and cap filler. Stein had reported on Tuesday that the Wolves turned down an offer of that nature from Miami.

Wolfson’s tweet doesn’t necessarily suggest that the Timberwolves didn’t receive an offer that included Richardson and a first-rounder — it may simply have been front office executives Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden – rather than Taylor – who passed on Miami’s proposal. Either way, Wolfson noted in a follow-up tweet that he’s not sure he has covered another story where the two sides’ versions differ so much.

While it’s clear the Wolves are still exploring trade options for Butler, the team is also said to be preparing to open the regular season with him still on the roster, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic detailed on Tuesday. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Butler was in the Timberwolves’ locker room this morning, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll join his teammates on the court.

Wojnarowski adds that the Heat are still pursuing a potential Butler trade.