Justise Winslow

Latest On Westbrook Trade Talks Between Heat, Thunder

The Thunder have asked the Heat for more than one of Miami’s most promising young players in their trade discussions for Russell Westbrook, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to Jackson, Oklahoma City is seeking the inclusion of 2019 lottery pick Tyler Herro in a Westbrook deal, but the Heat have been “very resistant” to the idea of trading away the former Kentucky sharpshooter. The 13th overall pick, who is averaging 19.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 2.8 APG in six Summer League games, has exceeded Miami’s expectations so far, a source tells Jackson.

After signing Herro on Wednesday, the Heat can’t include him in a trade for 30 days, but that isn’t expected to be an impediment if the two sides ultimately reach an agreement that includes him.

Jackson also hears that the Thunder have sought at least two players from the trio of Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Justise Winslow. That idea doesn’t appeal to the Heat, who are also high on Adebayo and opposed to dealing him.

As a result of the Thunder’s demands, the Westbrook trade discussions between the two teams are at a stalemate for the time being, despite the fact that Miami would love to add the star point guard, says Jackson.

While Herro’s status may not be a roadblock, there are a number of other obstacles that the two teams must overcome. The Thunder don’t want to take on additional salary, since they’d prefer to dip under the tax line rather than increase their projected bill. However, the Heat almost literally can’t take on any more salary, since they’re less than $1MM away from their $138.9MM hard cap.

Additionally, having already traded away their 2021 and 2023 first-round picks – which the Thunder now hold – the Heat don’t have first-rounders available to include in a Westbrook offer, which is why OKC is seeking multiple young players in a package instead, Jackson notes.

Miami could theoretically remove the lottery protections on the ’23 pick, which would subsequently allow the team to trade its 2025 or 2026 first-rounder as well. However, those are all fairly distant selections, and Oklahoma City may prioritize players and picks that can help the team within the next few years.

Even if the two teams could directly match salaries and the Thunder are fine with not acquiring draft picks, it’s not clear if they’ll see eye-to-eye on Westbrook’s value. Due to the $171MM owed to the former MVP over the next four years, Miami would prefer to just send out players whose contracts would help expedite a deal, many of whom likely don’t have a long-term future with the Heat, says Jackson.

On the other hand, the Thunder believe they deserve more compensation for a player with Westbrook’s track record — he won his MVP award just two years ago, rarely misses time due to injuries, and has averaged a triple-double in each of the last three seasons.

If no other serious suitors emerge for Westbrook, the Heat might “dig in further” when it comes to hanging onto their top young prospects, says Jackson.

Heat, Westbrook Have Mutual Interest In Trade

The Heat have expressed interest in negotiating a trade for Russell Westbrook, who views the possibility of playing in Miami as appealing, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

A report earlier on Monday indicated that the Thunder are receptive to trade inquiries for Westbrook in the aftermath of the blockbuster deal sending Paul George to the Clippers.

The Heat made a bold move in free agency by gaining a commitment from Jimmy Butler and engineering a sign-and-trade for the swingman. A Westbrook/Butler pairing could make Miami an instant contender in the wide open Eastern Conference, though contractually it would have long-term implications.

Westbrook, 30, has four years and $171MM remaining on his contract, including a $47MM player option in the final year. Moving Westbrook’s contract for future salary-cap relief might be the best Oklahoma City can do at this point.

Miami has already traded away its 2021 and 2023 first-rounders – which the Thunder own – and numerous second-rounders.

Westbrook will make $38.5MM next season but Miami has a handful of players making between $19.2MM and $12MM — Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk — for salary-matching purposes.

Miami also has to make sure it doesn’t add more salary to its current cap. The Heat are just $986K below the threshold of the $138.9MM luxury tax apron, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Thus, Miami cannot take back more or equal salaries in a potential Westbrook trade because that would hamstring its ability to fill out the roster (Twitter link).

Westbrook and agent Thad Foucher met with Thunder general manager Sam Presti over the weekend and both sides came away eager to find a resolution, according to Wojnarowski. Westbrook doesn’t want to be part of rebuild and that’s where OKC finds itself after George’s trade request to join forces with Kawhi Leonard.

Eastern Notes: Wizards, Heat, Celtics

The Wizards are still looking to make moves with their $8.6MM trade exception and in free agency, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Washington has already agreed to a sign-and-trade to ship out Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls, agreed to a two-year deal with Ish Smith and come to terms with center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat are still seeking to ship out contracts to ease their cap burden and reduce the need to stretch Ryan Anderson‘s contract, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Miami is hopeful of reducing or eliminating its luxury tax penalty for next summer, Jackson adds. The Heat are trying to hold onto Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones Jr. but are open to moving other veterans, Jackson adds in another tweet. The Heat have been extremely active in recent days, most notably piecing together a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler and reaching an agreement to trade Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers.
  • The Celtics have reached agreements with free agents Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter but they’re far from done, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The Celtics are still looking at a number of free agents and potential sign-and-trades that could free up money to get another impact player, Bulpett continues. Interior defense is the biggest area of need, he adds.

Heat Notes: Draft, Ellington, Langford

Should the Heat enter the sweepstakes for the No. 4 overall pick? Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel believes it depends on the cost.

The scribe isn’t a fan of the team sending away Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, or Bam Adebayo in a deal, though if a trade was structured around one of their player-friendly contracts, such as Dion Waiters or James Johnson, an additional player and the No. 13, moving up would make more sense.

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat could use Wayne Ellington back, but luxury tax concerns may put him out of the team’s price range, Winderman notes in the same piece. Miami began last season with great depth in the backcourt but that’s no longer the case after the team sent Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and Tyler Johnson away and watched Dwyane Wade retire.
  • Romeo Langford (Indiana) met with the Heat today, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports tweets. Langford’s busy day also includes a meeting with the Pelicans. He has previously visited Cleveland, Atlanta, and Minnesota.
  • The Heat also worked out Sekou Doumbouya (France), according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Doumbouya is expected to go in the lottery.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Winslow, Ariza, Carter-Williams

The Heat may have to make their final push for the playoffs without Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, relays Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Neither player traveled with the team on its two-game trip to New York and Boston, and there’s no guarantee that either will return over the final week and a half of the regular season.

Richardson, Miami’s leading scorer at 16.7 PPG, suffered a bruised left heel when he was undercut in Tuesday’s game. He has been wearing a walking boot for protection and because he’s not able to put pressure on the heel.

Winslow missed his eighth straight game tonight with a bruised right thigh. The team hoped to have him back this week, but he hasn’t made enough progress to resume playing. Rodney McGruder also didn’t make the trip because of an aching left knee, and coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed that they’re all getting “as much treatment and work they can get around the clock. That’s their focus.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The short-handed Heat are turning to rookie power forward Duncan Robinson to help fill the gap until their injured players return, Jackson adds in the same story. Robinson signed a two-way contract last summer and has only appeared in 12 NBA games. However, he played 22 minutes Thursday night. “He’s certainly gotten better,” Spoelstra said. “He had a phenomenal year in the G League, but he’s improved his defense, his body, conditioning, his strength. He’s improved his ability to work on the move for catch and shoot opportunities. He’s become much more dynamic.”
  • Bradley Beal‘s competitive nature will likely prevent him from taking any nights off, even though the Wizards are out of playoff contention, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. However, Trevor Ariza appears to be done for the year after aggravating his left groin strain on Tuesday.
  • The Magic have been so impressed by Michael Carter-Williams that they would like to have him on the postseason roster if they qualify, but that will require a difficult decision next week, notes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando received an injury hardship waiver that enabled it to sign Carter-Williams to a pair of 10-day contracts. His second deal expires Thursday, and he must be added to the 15-man roster to be eligible for the playoffs. Robbins identifies Jerian Grant and Isaiah Briscoe as candidates to be waived to make room.

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: Dragic, Ariza, Fultz, Beal

The Heat have dealt with rotation issues all season and they’ll have another dilemma when they return from the All-Star break. Point guard Goran Dragic is expected to return after recovering from arthroscopic surgery to his right knee. That will impact Justise Winslow, whose role as a playmaker and ballhandler has expanded in Dragic’s absence. Winslow enjoys playing with Dragic but doesn’t want to lose his starting spot.

“I’m going to think about that and let my curiosity go crazy during the All-Star break,” Winslow told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “That’s something that is out of my control. I can say what I would want, but it’s up to the coaches and I am ready to execute whatever role they give me.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Trevor Ariza was glad he was traded to the Wizards because of his familiarity with the organization and some of their players, Kimberly Cataudella of NBC Sports Washington relays. Ariza even implied he had some input on the trade made with the Suns, with whom he signed a one-year contract last summer. “If I [were] to leave [Phoenix], for me, it would be home or a place that I’m familiar with, and the opportunity came to come to Washington, and I chose Washington over everything,” he said. Ariza is averaging 15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 4.3 APG in 28 starts since the trade.
  • Not only do the Magic have big plans for Markelle Fultz, they’re already envisioning what he could do for them if they reach the postseason in upcoming years, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel reports. The No. pick in the 2017 draft was dealt by Philadelphia to Orlando earlier this month. “Watching film of him in Philly and then also of him in college … I’m not sure there’s an aspect of the game he can’t excel at,” coach Steve Clifford said. “Particularly in playoff series, you’ve got to have guys that can play both ways.”
  • Wizards guard Bradley Beal may have irritated some Celtics and Sixers fans with a comment he made during an All-Star event, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Asked which team he believed would win the Eastern Conference championship, Beal replied: “I think it’s going to be Toronto or Milwaukee.”

Heat Notes: Johnson, McGruder, Waiters, Johnson

The Heat have had to use countless different lineup combinations throughout the season as players have come and gone due to injuries, but recently it has been Tyler Johnson that has become a key staple in the starting lineup.

As Ira Winderman writes for The Sun-Sentinal, Johnson has provided an energetic approach that has made him a perfect fit for the starting lineup, especially as Erik Spoelstra continues to look for ways to jumpstart his team.

The Heat have made several significant changes in the wake of Goran Dragic‘s injury, most notably converting Justise Winslow to being the team’s primary ball-handler and creator.

There’s more from the Heat:

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Mozgov, Hornets, Gordon

Justise Winslow took a giant leap with the Heat in December, seeing most of his minutes at point guard and proving his worth by running the team’s offense during games. The sudden transformation came when All-Star guard Goran Dragic sustained a knee injury, forcing coach Erik Spoelstra to make a quick decision and give more ball-handling duties to Winslow.

Winslow has thrived in Dragic’s absence, providing multiple 20-plus point games and high assist games with Miami.

“Justise at the point guard is a lot different,” teammate Hassan Whiteside said. “He’s so big, he can just a lot of time bulldoze his way to the basket when he can’t get a pass.”

The rapid increase of production from Winslow, the Heat’s 2015 first-round pick, has earned the confidence of Spoelstra and the Heat’s coaching staff. Spoelstra outlined his perfect hypothetical stat line for Winslow in the coming years, giving him a high benchmark to set.

“I think the perfect stat lines for him would be 14, 15 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals,” Spoelstra said, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “There’s very few guys in this league that can have that kind of balance and effect on a basketball game and he’s one of those kind of guys.”

Winslow has averaged 14.7 points, 5.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game over his last 13 contests, with the Heat holding a 9-4 record during that span.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic center Timofey Mozgov underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure in his right knee, the team announced on social media. Mozgov had the surgery on Friday in Miami, with his return to basketball activity dictated on how he responds to treatment. Mosgov has yet to play a single game with Orlando this season.
  • Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer examines the situation between Kemba Walker and the Hornets, with Walker set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Charlotte has failed to build a successful team around Walker during his time with the team, Fowler writes, but could offer him a five-year maximum extension worth $190MM in free agency. Walker has averaged a career-high 25.3 points, 5.9 assists and 1.3 steals this season with the Hornets.
  • Magic coach Steve Clifford praised Aaron Gordon for his solid play in recent games, as relayed by Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel.“I think he’s playing at an incredibly high level and some nights he’s not getting as many shots, but I think it’s because he’s really locked in on just making the right play and making plays for his teammates and things like that,” Clifford said of Gordon. “I think his defense and his rebounding have been terrific and I think he’s in a stretch of games here where he’s just playing really well.”

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.