Josh Richardson

Southeast Notes: Walker, Johnson, Vucevic

The Hornets may have permanently damaged their relationship with All-Star guard Kemba Walker, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. When news broke that the franchise was eager to unload their best player in order to clear cap space and initiate a rebuild, the 27-year-old was apparently devastated.

Bonnell argues that Walker has been a world-class representative of the Hornets, a leader on the court and in the community. The scribe also argues that he’s a part of the solution in Charlotte, not the problem, and that it was customarily clumsy for the organization to dangle him for financial relief.

Bonnell cites Charlotte’s fruitless attempt to sign Gordon Hayward away from the Jazz as a restricted free agent in 2014 and the club’s ill-advised decision to sign Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27MM deal shortly thereafter as other examples of the Hornets being managed clumsily.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat continue to be ravaged by injuries at the two-guard position, the latest one to fall being Tyler Johnson. Now, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes, head coach Erik Spoelstra will have to decide between two-way player Derrick Jones Jr., reserve Wayne Ellington or an out-of-position Josh Richardson.
  • Despite the temporary scare, Heat guard Tyler Johnson‘s leg injury wasn’t as bad as initially feared, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes. “I was really worried because initially it felt like my knee popped,” he said. “That’s why when I went down I started grabbing at my knee and that was what was more worrisome than anything else. I’ve never had a bad knee injury so I didn’t know what it felt like. I was just thankful once I got to the back and my adrenaline kind of went down the pain in my knee wasn’t nothing I really ever felt before. My foot was down and it just kind of got tangled up.
  • A fractured bone in Nikola Vucevic‘s hand has kept him out of action since December 23 but the Magic big man is making progress, John Denton of Orlando’s team site writes. “Little by little [the strength is returning] and the best thing is just me using my hand because that will help it. I’m just doing stuff every day. Even video games, will help because I’m using my hand,” Vucevic said.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Clifford, Cordinier

The Heat have watched Josh Richardson develop into a go-to perimeter player, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says in a video published at the newspaper’s website. Richardson’s numbers are up across the board and his presence has helped the team weather the Dion Waiters injury.

Richardson has averaged 12.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Heat this season, up to 17.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per in 15 December contests.

Not only has the swingman been a revelation for the positionless Heat, he’s shown an ability to hang with large NBA small forwards despite weighing just 200 pounds and playing through college as a 6’6″ point guard.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks draft-and-stash prospect Isaia Cordinier will undergo season-ending knee surgery, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando writes. The 2016 second-round pick has been struggling with tendinitis since at least the summer.
  • The medical issue that Hornets coach Steve Clifford struggled with for over a month can be attributed to a combination of stress on the sidelines as an NBA coach and sleep deprivation, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. The feature delves into the head coach’s decision and why he’s confident a similar setback won’t happen again.
  • The Heat have a number of options with which to replace Dion Waiters‘ production, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes, including injured swingmen Justise Winslow and and Rodney McGruder. Players like Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington could also see larger roles.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Isaac, Graham, Howard

Josh Richardson has emerged as the most efficient small forward the Heat have had since LeBron James departed for the Cavaliers, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Injuries to other wing players have given Richardson an expanded role and he’s taken full advantage, averaging 17.6 PPG this month on 54.8% overall shooting and 50.9% from long range. “This is a continuation of the end of last season, completing a good summer of development,” coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman and other beat reporters. “He’s gaining more confidence with game minutes. I think that will only continue to get better.”

  • Magic rookie forward Jonathan Isaac‘s latest right ankle injury is not as severe as the one that kept him out for 17 games, John Denton of the team’s website reports. Isaac has missed the last two games after re-injuring the ankle on Wednesday. He’s hopeful he can return as early as Tuesday’s game against Miami. “It’s completely different and just a little re-aggravation,” Isaac told reporters. “Feeling OK and it’s the same thing – day to day – and hopefully I’ll get back soon.”
  • Hornets shooting guard Treveon Graham played a strong 28 minutes off the bench on Saturday and could see steadier playing time, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Graham scored 14 points as the club rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat the Bucks. Graham needs to be productive to stay on the roster. His $1.3MM contract doesn’t become fully guaranteed unless he’s still on the roster through January 10th.
  • The Hornets were fearful that center Dwight Howard would be out an extended period after suffering a dislocated left ring finger on Friday, Brendan Marks of the Charlotte Observer relays. Instead, Howard returned to action on Saturday. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a month or two months based on the way it kind of looked and the way it was popping out or whatever,” acting coach Stephen Silas told Marks.

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Richardson, Mickey

The Heat handed Kelly Olynyk a four-year, $46MM contract this offseason and one rival Eastern Conference GM is not impressed with the transaction, as he tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

“Not a huge fan of Olynyk and think they overpaid by about 20 percent. I have no idea why he got a player option. But basketball wise he’s a good fit,” the anonymous GM told Jackson.

Olynyk’s contract contains a player option worth slightly over $12.2MM for the 2020/21 season. That same GM also offered his opinion on Jordan Mickey, whom the team signed to a two-year contract in August. “End of the bench NBA player [that] can play for 8-10 years in the right system as a shotblocker, rebounder, energy guy,” he said.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • Josh Richardson, who inked a four-year, $42MM extension with the Heat this offseason, may have been able to land a larger contract had he held off on signing until he reached the free agent market. However, the 2015 No. 40 overall pick is happy with the deal he signed, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel relays. “Let’s be real, $42 million is a lot of money,” Richardson said. “So I can live on that forever. I don’t really worry about what everybody else is doing. I don’t like comparing myself to other people. So when they came to it, it was kind of like a no-brainer.”
  • Hassan Whiteside injured his knee on opening night and the big man’s absence has forced Mickey to take on a starting role. The 6’8″ big man has mostly played the four during his time in the league, but he has no issue playing center when needed for the Heat, as Winderman passes along in a separate piece. “I feel comfortable at whatever position he puts me at, whether he needs me to guard the bigs on the court or guard one of the smaller guys on the court,” Mickey said. “That’s where the NBA is going now, bigger guys guarding small guys. So you’ve got to continue to grow with the game.”
  • The Heat don’t have many scoring options on the wing, making Dion Waiters‘ recovery from an ankle injury even more crucial, Winderman contends in a recent mailbag. Waiters suffered the injury last season and hasn’t been able to suit up yet as a result of it.

Rodney McGruder Expected To Miss 3-6 Months

OCTOBER 17: McGruder underwent successful surgery to repair his left tibia stress fracture today, the Heat confirmed in a press release. The team has yet to announce a timetable for McGruder’s recovery.

OCTOBER 12: The Heat’s depth on the wing is about to take a hit, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that swingman Rodney McGruder is expected to undergo surgery on a stress fracture in his leg. The procedure would likely sideline him for three to six months, league sources tell Charania.

McGruder, 26, enjoyed a productive rookie season with the Heat in 2016/17, finding his way into the starting lineup for 65 of his 78 games. For the season, he averaged 6.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 25.2 minutes per contest.

Heading into the 2017/18 season, McGruder had been competing for a spot in the Heat’s starting lineup, with Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow among the other options the club had been considering at small forward. With McGruder reportedly set to miss a significant portion of the season, Richardson looks like the favorite to step into that starting role.

Currently, only about $453K of McGruder’s minimum salary is guaranteed, but he shouldn’t be in danger of losing his roster spot. Even in the unlikely event that the Heat were to waive him, the team would be on the hook for his full salary until he receives medical clearance.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Zeller, Hezonja

The battle for the Wizards‘ final regular season roster spot figures to come down to Donald Sloan and Carrick Felix, and head coach Scott Brooks calls it one of the “toughest” roster decisions he’s had to make in recent years, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The decision may ultimately come down to what sort of player the Wizards want to keep around, since Sloan, a veteran point guard, and Felix, an athletic swingman, would play different roles.

In theory, the Wizards could keep both players on the roster. The team only has 13 players on fully guaranteed contracts, leaving two openings. However, a 14th player – Sheldon Mac – has been ruled out for most or all of the season with a torn Achilles, and Washington will be on the hook for his salary until he recovers, whether or not he’s on the roster. By waiving him and keeping both Sloan and Felix, the Wizards would essentially be paying 16 players, an undesirable outcome for a club already well over the luxury-tax line.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Having signed a new four-year extension with the Heat this offseason, Josh Richardson is now determined to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2016/17 season, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.
  • The offseason arrival of Dwight Howard supplanted Cody Zeller from the starting lineup, but the Hornets‘ backup center remains valuable to the team as he enters the first year of a new contract. Sam Perley of has the story on Zeller.
  • Mario Hezonja, 2015’s fifth overall pick, took a step backward during his second NBA season last year. However, he has been solid in the preseason as he looks to cement a role in the Magic‘s rotation, says John Denton of
  • Backup Hawks point guard Malcolm Delaney spoke to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype about making the leap to the NBA last year, his decision to join the Hawks, and his expectations for Atlanta in 2017/18. “With our system and the way we move the ball, we could surprise a lot of people,” Delaney said. “My goal is always going to be to win. I don’t believe in rebuilding. I certainly don’t believe in tanking. I’m going out to win every game because this is my contract year and I’ve gotten to this point because of winning.”

Southeast Notes: Isaac, Porter Jr., Richardson

The Magic have been hard at work gaining insights about their roster this preseason and have already come up with a five-man group that they’re fond of. John Denton of the Magic’s official site writes that Frank Vogel particularly enjoyed playing Elfrid Payton alongside Jonathon Simmons at the two with Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon at the three and four, respectively, with Bismack Biyombo at center.

That’s scary for other teams because there is a lot of athleticism out there and a lot of guys who can guard point guard through power forward,” Payton, entering his fourth year with the Magic, said. “There’s so much speed and athleticism there. Even though we’d be seen as a small unit, Jonathon [Simmons] is athletic, Isaac is athletic, A.G. is athletic and I don’t think we’d lose anything on the rebounding end. I look forward to seeing that [lineup] more.

The scribe also notes that Isaac, while famously raw as a 20-year-old, 210-pound forward, could still be utilized as a defensive specialist for the Magic in his first year in the pros. “He’s NBA-ready to come in and impact our team on the defensive end right now,” Vogel said.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Heat Notes: Winslow, Olynyk, Adebayo, Wade

For a team that brought back nearly all its key players over the offseason, the Heat head into training camp with a lot of unanswered questions. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines position battles and several other topics in his latest column:

  • The starting small forward position will be wide open when camp begins Tuesday, with Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder all having a shot at it. The Heat exercised their fourth-year option on Winslow this week as the former first-rounder tries to battle back from a shoulder injury that limited him to 18 games last season. Miami was only 3-12 when he started last year and he wasn’t part of the team’s surge after the All-Star break. Richardson, who received a four-year extension this week, came into the league as a guard, but played 80% of his minutes last season at forward.
  • James Johnson is the favorite to start at power forward, but free agent addition Kelly Olynyk will be an intriguing addition because of his outside shooting. Olynyk shoots .368 from 3-point range for his career, compared to .296 for Johnson, although he raised that number to 34% last season. Olynyk, who was used mainly in a reserve role in Boston, will see plenty of minutes in Miami whether he starts or not.
  • Johnson, Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside will take up most of the center/power forward opportunities, leaving little for first-round pick Bam Adebayo, whom the Heat believe has a bright future. Winslow may also be utilized as a stretch four in small-ball lineups, so Adebayo will need a strong showing in camp to earn playing time.
  • Okaro White and Jordan Mickey are likely to make the roster, with A.J. Hammons holding a slight edge for the 15th spot. However, the Heat have concerns about Hammons’ work ethic and he will be challenged by shooting guard Matt Williams. Former Michigan point guard Derrick Walton has been impressive over the summer, but he has a two-way contract and can’t spend more than 45 days in the NBA.
  • The front office isn’t unanimous in wanting Dwyane Wade back if he agrees to a buyout with the Bulls. There are concerns about his defense at age 35, and the Heat already have five guards who can make a case for playing time.

Pat Riley Talks Wade, Roster, Whiteside, Richardson

While a buyout for Dwyane Wade is a popular topic of speculation around the NBA this fall, Heat president Pat Riley declined today to say whether his club would have interest in Wade as a free agent. Speaking to reporters, Riley praised Wade extensively and reminisced about the first championship the future Hall-of-Famer won with the franchise, but was careful to avoid tampering with a player under contract with the Bulls, wishing Wade the best in Chicago.

Wade was just one topic of discussion today for Riley, who also said that the Heat’s roster is set for training camp at 19 players, with he and Erik Spoelstra feeling as if it wasn’t necessary to fill that 20th and final spot. Riley also made a few other comments worth passing along, so with the help of Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, we’ll round up some of those comments below. Be sure to check out Jackson’s piece for even more from Riley.

Let’s dive in…

On the fact that there are no All-Stars on the Heat’s roster:

“There were only 12 All-Stars in the Eastern Conference last year. We felt there were players last year who had All-Star years [on the Heat] but they weren’t selected. We have stars on our team but they’re not considered that.

“I respect the fact Kevin Durant gave us an audience when we went to the Hamptons to talk to him [in July 2016]. I felt we were a long shot. The same thing happened with Gordon Hayward [this past summer]. If we have the opportunity, we will always continue to pursue a player of that ability to come here. We made the decision to stay with this team. I like this team. … We are way ahead of a rebuilding cycle. We are one step away from being a very good team. One step away could be the collective effort of an ensemble cast, or one step away could be a move to bring a player here.”

On expectations for Hassan Whiteside:

“If he wants to achieve the goals he talks about in the media, and puts out on social media, which are great, great goals — to be Defensive Player of the Year and make the All-Defensive Team and be respected. Those are things you must bring every single night [and you] must bring every single day in the offseason. H is on the road to achieving some of those goals. He wants to win. He appreciates the team and his teammates around him. That kind of growth has come slowly but it’s there. We’re expecting a great year out of Hassan and we need a great year out of Hassan.”

On Josh Richardson‘s extension:

“He’s a prototype contemporary player and he’s young. … When you take a look at player value, there are a lot intangibles you have to look at. We didn’t want him to go in the open market next year and coming off a great year, having to match some crazy contract. If the average salary in the NBA is close to $9-10MM, that’s where a lot of these guys are falling. When these words come out of my mouth, $8MM or $9MM as the average salary, if I’m a player in this league, I am saying to myself, ‘I am going to stay straight, be right, do whatever I can to have a 10-year career in this league and set up my family for life.’ We felt he was worth it and we expect great things from him.”

On being happy with the team’s current point guard depth:

“If we didn’t feel comfortable with Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters, then we would have gotten a veteran with 10, 12 years in the league. We don’t feel like we need that. If we did, it would have been easy for us to acquire that type of player.”

Heat Sign Josh Richardson To Four-Year Extension

SEPTEMBER 18, 1:23pm: The signing is official, the team announced on its website.

SEPTEMBER 13, 5pm: The Heat are finalizing a four-year contract extension with Josh Richardson, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who reports that the deal will be worth $42MM. While Richardson was a second-round pick in 2015 and wasn’t eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, the league’s new CBA made him eligible for a veteran extension until opening night.JoshRichardson vertical

According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), Richardson’s agents met with Heat president Pat Riley about two weeks ago and the team expressed a willingness to give Richardson the maximum offer. Under the terms of the CBA, that max amount would mean a starting salary of 120% of the estimated annual salary.

Richardson’s new deal will go into effect for the 2018/19 season and would run through 2022 if he plays out the entire contract. However, the final year of the extension, for the 2021/22 campaign, is a player option, according to Jackson, who provides a year-by-year breakdown of the pact (Twitter links).

Richardson’s cap for 2017/18 won’t be impacted by the new deal — he remains on track to earn the minimum $1,471,382 this season. However, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks (ESPN Now link) details, the Heat now project to sit roughly $5.5MM below the tax with $117.5MM on the books for 2018/19. That figure could increase to approximately $119.6MM if Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk hit games-played bonuses in their respective contracts, according to Marks.

Richardson broke out as a rookie, evidenced by his 46.1% mark from behind the arc. He slumped as a sophomore though, in part because of ankle injuries. In 105 career games with the franchise to date, the shooting guard has scored 8.4 points per game and nearly averaged a steal per contest.

Sources tell Jackson that Richardson will be given the opportunity to compete with Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder for the Heat’s starting small forward job this fall.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images