Justise Winslow

Will The Heat Add To Their Roster?

In the latest edition of his mailbag, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel broached the subject of Miami adding depth to their shaky roster. As one of Winderman’s readers pointed out, the Heat are within striking distance of a playoff spot, but are missing several players due to injury. What’s more, they’ve committed a roster spot to Udonis Haslem– a great clubhouse presence who isn’t an in-game contributor at this point in his career. In response, Winderman wrote:

“The Heat, for at least another week, not only won’t be able to dress the allowable 13 players, but like Sunday, will only be able to dress 11. Yes, I appreciate the ‘we have enough’ mentality that coaches such as Erik Spoelstra stress. But having enough does not mean having the maximum possible resources in a playoff race that will make every game count. Whether it is signing Carlos Boozer back from China or adding a defensive wing, you raise a legitimate point. This team is hemorrhaging roster spots, and if the mantra is to be all-hands-on-deck, then playing with a full deck would be the best place to start.”

Now tied with Detroit for the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference, the Heat enter a vital stretch of their season without Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, or Josh McRoberts. While the team could pursue Lance Stephenson, whose second 10-day contract in Minnesota recently expired, he won’t be playoff eligible. Aside from reaching out to Boozer, Winderman lists Okaro White– who is “hardly getting off the bench lately”- as a potential source of production.

Southeast Notes: Porter, Heat, Plumlee, Magic

The Wizards may not be finished dealing after a multi-player trade with the Nets this afternoon, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Washington will continue to look for help through Thursday’s trade deadline at 3 p.m. Eastern. Today’s deal, which sent Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and this year’s first-rounder to Brooklyn in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, clears cap space to help the Wizards re-sign Otto Porter this summer, notes David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). Nicholson, who had fallen out of the rotation in Washington, still has three seasons and nearly $20MM left on his contract.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Bogdanovic has a 15% trade kicker, notes Bobby Marks of The Vertical (Twitter link). That amounts to $157K, which Brooklyn will pay, but his cap hit for the Wizards is now $3.73MM.
  • The Heat will avoid any deadline moves that would tie up their future cap space, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. That makes them unlikely to pursue the Nuggets’ Wilson Chandler or the Nets’ Trevor Booker, who both have contracts that extend beyond this season. Jackson cites a rival GM who has spoken to Miami about a deal and believes “they seem content to stand pat.”
  • Miami expects to have Josh Richardson back in the lineup for Friday’s game, according to a tweet from the team. A foot injury has kept him out of the lineup since January 8th. “He’s had a healthy approach the last 4-5 weeks to prepare,” said coach Erik Spoelstra. Justise Winslow won’t be back this season, but he is making progress from shoulder surgery, the Heat noted (Twitter link), as his sling has been removed.
  • Hornets center Miles Plumlee will be out of action for at least two weeks with a right calf strain, the team posted on its website. An MRI revealed the second-degree strain, and Plumlee will be re-evaluated in 14 days. He has played just five games for Charlotte since being acquired from the Bucks in a February 2nd trade.
  • Despite a 21-37 record, the Magic have no plans to tank the rest of the season, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando is currently fourth in our Reverse Standings and would have an 11.9% chance of winning the lottery. Coach Frank Vogel believes it would be a mistake to try to improve those odds by losing on purpose. “As a coach, you worry about one thing, and that’s getting a group of guys that haven’t won in five years to learn how to win,” Vogel said. “That’s more important than any one player you can add.”

Southeast Notes: Heat, Mahinmi, Smith

Pat Riley has to do more than just appease paying customers, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel, the team president needs to steward the future of the Heat franchise. That means, despite the 13-game win streak that has suddenly put Miami within striking distance of the playoffs, the club would be wise to approach the February 23 trade deadline with caution.

This summer will be a pivotal one for the Heat, Winderman writes, citing things like Chris Bosh‘s contract situation and the fact that the club has already traded two of the club’s next four first-rounders as reasons why they ought to be smart about how they structure the team heading forward. The draft matters now more than ever, he adds, suggesting that hasty moves to load up on short-term assets this week would only hurt their 2017 draft position.

Winderman notes that the camaraderie in the Heat locker room is similar to that of the upstart 2004/05 Heat team anchored by a rookie Dwyane Wade, Lamar Odom and Caron Butler. That team started slow but rallied to become a playoff team. Tellingly, it wasn’t long after the turnaround when Riley opted to cash in his chips in the blockbuster deal that netted Shaquille O’Neal.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • It wasn’t long ago when Heat forwards Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson appeared to be reasonably untouchable, writes Ira Winderman in a separate piece for the Sun Sentinel, but Miami’s recent improvement may have altered that. Now that the club isn’t in position to land a Top 3 pick, Winderman says, the club might consider holding onto Goran Dragic more than anybody else.
  • After missing 50 games for the Wizards through the first four months of the season, Ian Mahinmi isn’t about to take time off during the All-Star Break, writes Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic. The big man inked to a four-year, $64MM deal over the summer has been on a minutes restriction and will look to get himself back into a rhythm in the second half.
  • The return of Ian Mahimi has eaten into backup center Jason Smith‘s minutes but the consummate professional made an impression while filling in for the injured big man. “What he’s done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks tells Candace Buckner of the Washington Post. Smith has averaged close to 14 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes so far this season.
  • The Hornets complicated their cap situation when they acquired Miles Plumlee earlier this month but retain some expiring contracts that could be dealt ahead of the deadline. General manager Rich Cho, Bobby Marks of The Vertical explains, has made four trade deadline deals since his first year with the squad back in 2011.

Win Streak May Make Heat Buyers, Not Sellers

On January 13, at the season’s halfway mark, the Heat had just dropped their fourth straight game and sat at 11-30, on track for a top-three draft pick. Since that day, however, the team hasn’t lost a single game, and according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the improbable winning streak has drastically changed how Miami will approach the trade deadline. The team is now more likely to be a buyer than a seller this month, sources tell Deveney.

“They were willing to listen to whatever anyone wanted to offer,” one league executive said of the Heat. “But those calls have changed, because now they’re looking for pieces to help them as they are.”

According to one of Deveney’s sources, the Heat were never overly eager to trade marquee players like Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside during the season. However, Dragic, in particular, had drawn interest around the NBA. Deveney identifies the Bucks as one team that had interest in the veteran point guard, in addition to previously-reported suitors like the Kings and Magic.

Still, even if the Heat weren’t shopping Dragic or Whiteside, the team considered likely to move other veterans on the roster before the deadline. But that was before the current 12-game winning streak — now, the team is in the market for power forward help, sources tell Deveney. Miami is reportedly looking for a big man who can shoot from outside and play solid defense, which makes it unsurprising that the club was linked to Serge Ibaka this week.

The Heat’s trade assets are somewhat limited, since they’ve already moved their 2018 and 2021 first-round picks, which prevents them from sending out their 2017, 2019, or 2020 first-rounders. As such, any trade for veteran help would likely have to involve a young player such as Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, or Justise Winslow.

At 23-30, the Heat are still likely prioritizing their long-term goals over short-term success, so it would be a surprise to see the team give up much young talent to improve this year’s squad. But the fire sale of veteran players that appeared likely a month ago is no longer in the cards either, making it an interesting deadline for the franchise.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Neal, Hornets, House

The Heat have been granted a $1.3 million salary-cap exception, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. The exception can be used through March 10 to sign a single player whose contract expires at the end of the season. The amount is half the salary for Justise Winslow, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this month. The Heat would have to open a spot to use the exception because they have a full roster after signing Okaro White on Tuesday.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said his familiarity with Gary Neal played a role in the team’s decision to sign the veteran guard to a 10-day contract, relays Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Budenholzer was an assistant with the Spurs when Neal played for San Antonio from 2010-13. “I have a great comfort level and confidence in Gary,” the coach said. “His ability to shoot and make shots and be a weapon coming off the bench in big games. He is a competitive guy, a smart guy.” Budenholzer plans to use Neal primarily as a third point guard.
  • The Hornets will have to make roster changes to have a shot making a playoff run, contends Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer. He argues that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t the same player he was before his injury and says the Hornets need to acquire another scorer to take the late-game load off Kemba Walker.
  • Wizards rookie Danuel House had a CT scan on his right wrist today, tweets J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. The undrafted shooting guard out of Texas A&M has played just one game this season and will probably be sent to the D-League when he does return. House has just a $100K guarantee on his $905,249 salary for next season.

Heat Notes: 16th Man, Injuries, Richardson, Dragic

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed today that the NBA has granted the team a harship exception, allowing for a 16th player to be added to the roster (Twitter link). According to Spoelstra, Miami has not yet determined which player will be added to the roster using that exemption (Twitter link). However, the Heat coach may simply be waiting until the move is official to formally discuss the team’s newest player — according to reports on Sunday, Miami is prepared to call up Okaro White from its D-League affiliate to take that 16th roster spot.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel explains why the Heat qualify for a hardship exception that allows them to add a 16th player, providing updates on where things stand on sidelined players like Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, and Justise Winslow.
  • Meanwhile, Josh Richardson will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks of action, Spoelstra confirmed today (Twitter link). When Richardson is ready to return, the Heat will have to part ways with someone to get back down to 15 players.
  • In a mailbag for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman discusses the possibility of the Heat matching up with the Magic for a Goran Dragic trade. In Winderman’s view, it makes sense for Miami to be patient if any such deal would involve a 2017 first-round pick, since the Heat would want to be sure that pick lands as high as possible in the draft. Of course, the further Orlando is from the playoff race in the East, the less likely the team is to part with a 2017 pick.
  • Within the same mailbag, Winderman also suggests that James Johnson and Wayne Ellington are more likely than someone like Derrick Williams to generate interest as trade chips.

Heat Notes: Richardson, Dragic, Reed, Winslow

The Heat are starting to focus on the future as this season continues to unravel, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Dwyane Wade‘s departure for Chicago and Chris Bosh‘s ongoing battle with blood clots robbed Miami of two huge talents. On top of that, second-year forward Justise Winslow is out for the year after shoulder surgery and veteran big man Josh McRoberts is sidelined indefinitely with a foot problem. While this appears to be a lost season, Miami is in position to rebuild quickly. At 11-27 and third in our Reverse Standings, the Heat will have a high draft pick this summer. The final two seasons of Bosh’s contract will probably be cleared away by a medical hardship, making Miami a player on the free agent market again. “It’s a competitive league and everybody wants to be that last team, but who has a coherent plan? Who’s committed to that plan? Who’s disciplined for that plan when there’s a lot of noise and it’s not necessarily getting the results that you want?” said coach Eric Spoelstra. “We’re able to see great promise, hope, and progress with this team. If you know anything about our organization, we have a plan.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • An MRI performed Saturday on guard Josh Richardson‘s left ankle was negative and he is listed as day-to-day, according to Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Center Hassan Whiteside, who has missed four games with a bruised retina, is expected back today.
  • Willie Reed made an impression on Spoelstra with his play during Whiteside’s absence, Navarro writes in the same piece. The performance of the second-year center, who signed with Miami over the summer, “definitely earned him more minutes, more opportunities,” Spoelstra said.
  • If the Heat are able to get two draft picks for point guard Goran Dragic, one may come well in the future, speculates Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. A scout told Winderman the Heat are unlikely to get a pick anywhere near the top of this year’s lottery by dealing Dragic.
  • Miami shouldn’t hesitate to pick up Winslow’s $3.5 million rookie-scale salary for 2018-19, Winderman argues in a separate column. He notes that Winslow, the 10th pick in the 2015 draft, will only be 21 when training camp opens, and although he is coming off a poor shooting season he can contribute as a rebounder, defender and playmaker.

Heat Apply For Disabled Player Exception

The Heat have applied for a disabled player exception in light of the recent injury to forward Justise Winslow, tweets Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald. The news comes on the heels of Winslow’s successful but presumably season-ending procedure to repair a torn labrum that he suffered last week.

Although the surgery went well according to a release published on the team’s website, the club will look to add an extra body heading into the second half of the season. Teams have until January 15 to apply for one of the disabled player exceptions and if approved are free to sign a replacement player making up to either 50% of the injured player’s salary or the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is lower.

In Miami’s case, should the application be granted, they’ll be free to sign somebody worth up to approximately $1.3MM due to Winslow’s $2.6MM deal without it using up cap space. Though not applicable in this scenario, the non-taxpayer mid-level exception for 2016-17 is $5.6MM.

The Heat are currently down a roster spot already considering that Chris Bosh has yet to be medically cleared to play for the team. In Bosh’s case, the Heat retain the option to apply for a disabled player exception worth the full non-taxpayer MLE, but appear instead to be holding onto Bosh with the intent of waiving him and potentially clearing his contract from their books altogether. More on Bosh’s contract situation in this October feature by USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt.

With Winslow out, one potential replacement that has been mentioned by The Palm Beach Post’s Anthony Chiang is Briante Weber. Weber has thrived this season with Miami’s D-League affiliate and was one of the last cut from the team after training camp. As of Thursday, Chiang notes, teams have been eligible to sign players to 10-day contracts.

Salary information from HoopsHype was used in this report.

Justise Winslow Likely Out For Season

Heat sophomore Justise Winslow will probably miss the rest of the 2016/17 season, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The versatile forward injured his shoulder tangling with Al Horford on Friday and will undergo what’s presumed to be season-ending surgery this Thursday.

The news that Winslow had in fact torn his labrum was announced by head coach Erik Spoelstra prior to Miami’s tilt with the Kings on Wednesday.

Winslow had missed the last two games with what the team had listed generically as a “right shoulder injury.” Earlier in the season he missed 16 games with a wrist injury that was said to potentially warrant surgery in its own right.

In 18 games with the Heat this season, Winslow has averaged 10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, up from 6.4, 5.2 and 1.5 respectively in his rookie year.

Heat Notes: McRoberts, Winslow, Beasley, Whiteside

Josh McRoberts will almost certainly choose not to opt out of his contract after suffering a foot injury this week, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. A stress fracture was discovered Tuesday in McRoberts’ left foot that will keep him off the court indefinitely. That virtually eliminates any chance he will hit the open market and try to improve on the more than $6MM the Heat owe him for next season. With McRoberts’ salary on its cap, Miami will have about $40MM in space this summer if Dion Waiters and Willie Reed both opt out as expected.

There’s more news today out of Miami:

  • The Heat are concerned that Justise Winslow‘s shooting problems will prevent him from ever becoming a great player, Jackson notes in the same story. Winslow ranks last in shooting percentage among the 85 players averaging at least 30 minutes per game, connecting on just 35.2% of his shots from the field and just 20% from 3-point range. “It’s tough,” Winslow said after going 0 for 9 in Thursday’s loss to the Hornets. “I try to rebound, defend. You have to find other ways to make an impact. Just one of those nights.” Miami has already picked up Winslow’s option for 2017/18 and will give the 10th pick of the 2015 draft plenty of time to work out his shooting woes.
  • The Heat continue to be haunted by their decision to take Michael Beasley ahead of Russell Westbrook in the 2008 draft, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. Beasley lasted just two seasons in Miami before being traded to Minnesota for cash and two second-round picks. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale, a former assistant with the Heat, said there were plenty of warning signs before the draft. “I’ll never forget the year they were drafted,” he said. “Not to call out Bease, but we had to drag Bease out of the bed in Vegas to get him to the gym to work out. And Russell Westbrook had already been in that same gym for two hours, full sweat. And [Miami coach Erik Spoelstra] asked Bease, ‘Where you been?’ And it was like, ‘Oh, man, is this how this kid really is? And [Westbrook] went a whole other hour going at the speed that you see him play.”
  • Heat center Hassan Whiteside, who signed a four-year, $98MM deal over the summer, tells Winderman in a separate story that he doesn’t worry about trying to live up to that contract. “No different than before,” Whiteside said. “The pressure of being cut when I first got here on a non-guaranteed [contract] was a little more pressure than it is now for me.”
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