Josh Richardson

Pat Riley Talks 2020, Playoff Race, Draft Picks

Assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic exercise their player options for next season, the Heat won’t be in position to open up cap room this summer. The club would have over $129MM in guaranteed money on its books for 2019/20 in that scenario, well above the projected $109MM cap.

However, with the contracts for Whiteside and Dragic set to expire in 2020, Heat president Pat Riley believes his team can be a major player during free agency that offseason. Riley said as much in an interview with Heat reporter Jason Jackson (video link), as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.

“In 2020, we’ll have a lot of room,” Riley said. “We’ll also have the possibility to have enough room to go after two max contracts, and we’re going to do that. So we’re planning that 2020 will be the room year.”

The NBA’s latest salary cap projection calls for a $118MM cap for 2020/21. Currently, the Heat project to have about $71.6MM on their books for that season if James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk pick up ’20/21 player options. So Riley’s suggestion that the team will have two max slots may hinge on one or both of those players opting out.

While Riley and the Heat are eyeing that 2020 offseason as their next opportunity to make a major splash in free agency, it sounds like he’s not ruling out the possibility of pursuing upgrades this coming summer, when the club will have a mid-level exception available.

“We’re chasing a playoff spot and we’re young, and then we’re going to be chasing some players that could come in,” Riley said, per Winderman. “If we could get one or two players to come in with this group, this young group, then I think the sky’s the limit for this team in the next couple of years.”

Here’s more from Riley on the Heat, via Winderman:

  • If they continue to slump, the Heat – who currently rank 10th in our reverse standings – would be in position to snag a pretty favorable draft pick. However, Riley wants to see the squad continue pushing for one of the final playoff spots in the East. “It’s absolutely essential that they grow with experience, but not only experience with the playing time, but they get to the playoffs,” Riley said. “… I don’t care if you’re fighting for spot number eight or seven or five or three or the top spot or you’re fighting for a championship. You’ve got to be chasing something that’s positive.”
  • While Riley sounds far more interested in earning the No. 8 seed than in landing a top-10 pick in the draft, he dismissed the idea that he doesn’t value draft picks: “People think I don’t believe in draft picks. They’re so wrong. … Draft picks are very important to us.”
  • Riley suggests that Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson are the key members of the Heat’s young core going forward. However, the club president also mentioned Derrick Jones Jr., and noted that players like Dion Waiters (25), Olynyk (27), and Whiteside (28) are still fairly young.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Olynyk, Beal, Walker

Trading Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson has led to a more coherent rotation for the Heat and the players appreciate that stability, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. The team was overloaded at the guard and small forward positions before the logjam was broken. “It’s calming knowing you’re going to play X amount of minutes every night,” Josh Richardson said. “We love those guys [but] before, it was different. Now the guard rotation is thinned a little bit so we can play through stuff a little more now instead of it being the other way around.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat big man Kelly Olynyk will likely lose the $1MM bonus in his contract because he’s not on pace to reach 1,700 minutes. However, Olynyk is not fretting over it, according to Jackson. “It’s not something you can control,” Olynyk said.
  • Wizards guard Bradley Beal took some time during All-Star weekend to do some recruiting, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. Beal wouldn’t name the players he spoke with because he wanted to avoid any league discipline. “The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”
  • Beal declared he would never demand a trade from the Wizards despite injuries and deals that have changed the outlook of a once promising season, Hughes writes in a separate story. “I always feel like if I requested a trade, and I didn’t get traded, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to go and play with my teammates who know I don’t want to be here. That’s mind-boggling to me,” he told Hughes.
  • Kemba Walker dropped a hint during All-Star weekend that he’ll stay in Charlotte if the money’s right, according to Shaun Powell of NBA.com. The Hornets point guard, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, says the thought of playing in the same place throughout his career holds a lot of appeal to him. “There’s something to be said for being on a team for your whole career,” he said. “Not many players have done that. Only a select few. That’s a goal to accomplish.”

Lowe’s Latest: Rockets, Prince, Blazers, Heat

The Rockets and Cavaliers had discussions about sending Brandon Knight to Cleveland along with a first-round pick in exchange for Alec Burks. However, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com hears that those talks have ceased. Houston has also spoken with the Grizzlies about potential Knight deals.

Cleveland is selling Burks, Rodney Hood, and any other “indispensable asset” prior to the deadline, Lowe writes. The team is willing to take back future salary in exchange for picks.

Houston is expected to scour the market for deals leading up to the deadline with an eye on attaching a future first-rounder to Knight and Marquese Chriss. The Rockets would likely push for lottery protections on any picks that would convey past James Harden‘s prime.

Lowe’s latest piece contains trade nuggets from several teams in the league and we’ve already passed along news from the Grizzlies’ Mike Conley and Marc Gasol sweepstakes as well as the Magic’s pre-deadline plan. Here are the rest of the newsworthy notes from the ESPN piece:

  • The Hawks have made Taurean Prince available in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Atlanta hasn’t received a ton of traction on Prince deals because of its asking price. The organization wants a young prospect and a pick in exchange for the small forward.
  • The Blazers have put their first-rounder on the table in trade talks, sources tell Lowe. Portland has reached out about Otto Porter Jr.‘s availability, though Wizards owner Ted Leonsis previously announced that the team would not be trading Porter before the deadline.
  • Porter has drawn interest from several teams. In addition to the Blazers, the Mavericks and Jazz have kept an eye on the situation. Dallas was interested in swapping Harrison Barnes for Porter prior to the Kristaps Porzingis trade.
  • Miami appears to be willing to move anyone but Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo for cap relief. Lowe expects the Heat to try to get at least a second-round pick for Wayne Ellington.
  • Lowe confirms a previous report that JaMychal Green, Justin Holiday, and Garrett Temple are all available. Holiday, who was acquired from the Bulls earlier this year, cost the Grizzlies two second-round picks.
  • The Kings have approximately $11MM in cap space available and they want to use it to pick up an asset. Lowe writes that it could be a draft pick or a player who will help them win this season.
  • Sacramento is willing to engage in trade talks about Willie Cauley-Stein, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. The Kings may simply let the center walk should he receive too high of an offer this offseason.
  • The Bulls are expected to listen to offers for anyone but Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Lowe doesn’t expect Chicago to deal either Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine though, as the team’s asking price is anticipated to be too high.
  • The Nuggets own a pair of trade exceptions and have slightly less than $7MM in breathing room under the tax. They are open to taking on a salary dump if another team calls and has to shed a player in that price range.

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.