Kelly Olynyk

Heat Notes: LeBron, T. Johnson, Draft Picks, Leonard

The Heat are sometimes listed as a potential free agency destination for LeBron James, but team officials don’t believe there’s any chance he will return to Miami, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Among the entities that could see James back on South Beach is the WestGate Las Vegas sports book, which recently gave the Heat the fifth-best odds of winning next year’s title because of that possibility.

While Miami wouldn’t turn James away, there are too many obstacles to make the move realistic, Jackson notes. The Heat enter this summer with no cap space, so they would have to clear more than $55MM in salary while taking none in return to create the room to offer James a max contract. Cleveland could theoretically agree to a trade, but it’s hard to picture Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert working out a deal to ship James back to Miami.

Here are a few more Heat tidbits, courtesy of Jackson:

  • Tyler Johnson‘s contract will escalate to $19.2MM in each of the next two seasons, and the Heat are probably stuck with that deal. Jackson states that there is little optimism in the organization about moving Johnson, whose contract includes a 15% trade kicker that would be worth an extra $2.9MM. Miami matched a back-loaded offer sheet from the Nets in 2016 that was structured to make Johnson much more expensive in the final two years.
  • Also holding a trade kicker is Kelly Olynyk, who has a 5% bonus that would pay him $1.1MM if he’s traded. That money would be split over the next two seasons.
  • The Heat, who don’t have a pick in either round of this year’s draft, are trying to acquire a second-rounder, according to a Western Conference executive whose team has spoken to Miami about a potential deal. This year’s first-round choice was sent to the Suns in the Goran Dragic trade, and the second-rounder was shipped to Memphis in a 2016 deal to clear cap room.
  • Miami continues to monitor the Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio in hopes of pouncing if the Spurs decide a trade is necessary.

Canada Basketball Unveils 18 Training Camp Invites

Canada Basketball has announced its preliminary 18-man roster of players who have been invited to participate in training camp and exhibition play ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers next month, reports Josh Lewenberg of The Sports Network.

Among the 18 named individuals, eight played in the NBA last season – Khem Birch (Magic), Chris Boucher (Warriors), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), Cory Joseph (Pacers), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Dwight Powell (Mavericks), and Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers).

The preliminary roster also includes former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, as well as three other G League players – Aaron BestOlivier Hanlan, and Kaza Kajami-Keane.

The remaining six players are former first-round pick of the Magic, Andrew Nicholsonformer college standouts’ Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, Baylor’s Brady Heslip, and Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos, as well as brothers Phil Scrubb and Tommy Scrubb.

As also highlighted by Lewenberg, notable absences include Trey Lyles (Nuggets), Nik Stauskas (Nets), and most glaringly, Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves). Per Lewenberg, multiple sources indicated that one factor in Wiggins’ decision to decline Canada Basketball’s invitation is his strained relationship with national team head coach Jay Triano, who left Wiggins on the bench during the final moments of a qualifying game for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Southeast Notes: Olynyk, Hill, Wizards

One year after being part of a Celtics team that made a strong push towards a championship, Heat forward Kelly Olynyk is upset that his season is over, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami was eliminated from the postseason by the Sixers in five games.

Olynyk signed a four-year pact with the Heat last summer as the Celtics shifted focus to acquiring Kyrie Irving and signing Gordon Hayward. Olynyk was honest in the fact that going home early was a disappointment, but that he is using it as motivation to come back stronger next season.

“Unfortunately, I wish it was us and it was something that makes you leave that taste in your mouth where you want that, you want to experience that,” Olynyk said. “I want that next year to be Game 5 [of the Eastern Conference finals] in Miami, at AmericanAirlines Arena, either playing them or somebody else. That’s the goal. That’s what it’s all about.”

In his first season with the Heat, Olynyk posted career-best totals of 11.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 76 games (22 starts).

Check out more Southeast Division notes below:

  • Matt Hill, the only assistant coach retained by the Magic from Frank Vogel‘s staff, is headed to the Hawks as an assistant coach, tweets Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. Hill originally started as a video analyst in the Magic’s basketball operations department.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examined the Wizards‘ possible draft strategy as the team prepares to select players for the first time since 2015. Hughes writes that Washington could use its first- and second-round picks to select either a modern big man, wing player or backup point guard.
  • It may be enticing for the Wizards to shop their first-round pick, but the team should learn from previous seasons and retain that pick to draft a young player, Hughes writes in a separate story.

And-Ones: BWB Asia, Gambling, Williams, G League

The Thunder’s Corey Brewer, Nets’ Caris LeVert, Heat’s Kelly Olynyk and Mavericks’ Dwight Powell will coach top high school age campers from the Asia-Pacific region in the 10th edition of Basketball Without Borders Asia, according to an NBA release.

BWB Asia 2018 will be held May 30–June 2 at The NBA Academy India in Delhi National Capital Region. Players and coaches will lead the campers through a variety of activities on and off the court, including movement efficiency, positional skill development, shooting and skills competitions, 5-on-5 games, and daily life skills seminars.

In other developments from around the league:

  • New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney voiced strong opposition to the sports’ leagues request for sports betting fees, ESPN Chalk’s David Payne Purdum tweets. “They are calling this extortion attempt an integrity fee, even while fully aware that providing participants a stake in the volume of betting would amount what could more accurately be called an anti-integrity fee,” Sweeney said. The NBA later defended its position, saying its games are the foundation of what will be bet on, the Associated Press reports. “We believe it is reasonable for casinos to compensate the NBA with a small percentage of the total amount bet on our games,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.
  • The NBA is projecting the salary cap to inflate by $7MM in 2019 and some of that projection might include some anticipated new gambling-related revenue, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. While the cap could rise due to gambling-related income, it won’t cause a dramatic increase in the future, Windhorst adds.
  • Former NBA guard Mo Williams will join Mark Gottfried’s staff at Cal State Northridge, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweets. Williams played for Gottfriend at Alabama, Goodman notes.
  • The G League showcase has been moved from January to December and Las Vegas is a strong contender to host it, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Orlando is also being considered as a host site, according to 2ways10days.com. League expansion is a major reason why Las Vegas and Orlando are potential landing spots for the showcase.

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Wade, Ellington

Hassan Whiteside headed into the offseason last night with one last jab at Heat coach Erik Spoelstra over playing time, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Whiteside spent just 10 minutes on the court during the season-ending loss and played 77 total minutes in the five-game series.

“At least give me a chance to fight,” Whiteside said. “I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance. … We played a style of play Coach wanted. He wanted to utilize more spacing I guess in the playoffs, so that’s why he did it.”

Foul trouble played a role in Whiteside’s lack of minutes, Jackson notes, as did matchup concerns with Philadelphia’s smaller lineups, but there’s an apparent feeling from the coaching staff that the Heat are better without Whiteside on the floor. His playing time dropped sharply during the season, going to 25.3 minutes per game after a career high of 32.6 last year.

The 28-year-old center said he will address the matter this summer with Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley. He is under contract for more than $25.4MM next season with a $27.1MM player option for 2019/20, and Jackson states that the Heat are expected to explore trade options.

There’s more from Miami on the first day of the offseason:

  • The Heat are stuck with a roster talented enough to make the playoffs, but not to be a legitimate contender once they get there, Jackson writes in a separate piece. He recommends significant changes, which will have to come through trades because of the team’s cap situation. He says the Heat would prefer to keep Josh Richardson, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, but adds that Riley should give the Spurs their choice of any two players on the roster if Kawhi Leonard becomes available.
  • Dwyane Wade is in no rush to make a decision about another NBA season, according to Andre C. Fernandez of The Miami Herald. The 36-year-old played well after returning to Miami in February, including a 28-point performance in Game 2 of the playoff series. “Fresh off the NBA season, my 15th year, I’ll sit back and think about that,” Wade said after Tuesday’s loss. “Then, I’ll dive and throw myself into my family. They’re next on my bucket list of making sure I’m there for them. Then when it comes to the basketball side of it, which is a long time away from now, then I’ll think about that. But right now I ain’t concerned with it.”
  • Wayne Ellington hopes to return to Miami, but financial realities could make that difficult, notes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. The Heat own Early Bird Rights on Ellington as he heads into free agency, allowing them to offer a four-year contract starting at $10.9MM with raises up to 8%. However, Miami is roughly $15MM over next year’s cap, so some salary may have to be trimmed before it makes that kind of commitment to Ellington.

Southeast Notes: Olynyk, Hornets, Hawks

Kelly Olynyk is poised to cash in a pair of bonuses included in the contract he signed with the Heat last summer, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Olynyk’s deal, which included a base salary of about $10.61MM for 2017/18, featured a $400K bonus if Miami secured a playoff berth — the team clinched its postseason spot on Tuesday night.

In addition to that $400K, Olynyk is also in line to receive another $1MM for reaching a minutes-played incentive. His contract called for a $1MM bonus if he played at least 1,700 minutes this season, and he’s currently at 1,698. Barring a season-ending injury very early in tonight’s game against Atlanta, Olynyk should easily surpass that 1,700-minute threshold.

Here are a few more items from out of the Southeast division:

  • Assuming Mitch Kupchak accepts the Hornetsoffer to become the team’s new general manager, he’ll have a busy summer ahead of him, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, who says that the franchise’s rebuild can’t be put on hold. Determining whether to retain head coach Steve Clifford and then finding a way to get out from under one or two long-term contracts would be atop Kupchak’s to-do list, Bonnell observes.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) takes a look at the Hornets‘ upcoming offseason as well, noting that Kemba Walker‘s future is a major question looming over the organization. Marks also identifies Jeremy Lamb as a possible trade candidate, since his salary is modest enough that teams wouldn’t view his contract as a negative asset.
  • The Hawks have been the NBA’s least effective team in terms of post-up offense this season, prompting Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype to explore a few players worth targeting in free agency if Atlanta wants to improve that aspect of its roster.

Southeast Notes: Olynyk, Hornets, Wizards, Wade

When the Heat signed Kelly Olynyk to a four year, $50MM contract this offseason, the team had to structure bonuses into his contract as a means to fit his first-year salary within the rules of the CBA. So with a current cap hit of $10.6MM, Olynyk could actually see his salary increase to $11.6MM if he reaches a $1MM bonus for playing at least 1,700 minutes during the regular season.

Per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel, Olynyk only needs – barring injury – to average 18.2 minutes per game for the remainder of the season to reach the bonus, well below his 23.4 per game season average. And while it may be difficult for Olynyk to keep that pace given the emergence of Heat rookie Bam Adebayo and the recent focus of more playing time for Hassan Whiteside, he doesn’t seem to mind too much.

“I mean, it’s obviously nice to get,” he said. “But it’s not something that you’re stressing about or striving toward. You want to be able to play minutes to help the (Heat) succeed, to help the team win, and whatever comes with that, comes with that.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In an extensive Q&A with Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte ObserverHornets head coach Steve Clifford touched upon a number of subjects, including why the roster talent hasn’t translated to wins, the progress of rookies Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon, and whether Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is back to form after recovering from two seperate shoulder surgeries.
  • Despite currently sitting at fourth place in the Eastern Conference, the Wizards are only a mere five games ahead of ninth-place Detroit and must be careful not to slip out of the playoff race, authors Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Washington has the toughest remaining schedule in the East and third-hardest in the NBA, according to BasketballReference.com, so as Buckner writes, the team has little room for error.
  • Dwyane Wade is back in Miami, and for four of the Heat’s youngest players, this is welcome news, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Josh Richardson, Tyler JohnsonJustise Winslow, and Whiteside all have fond memories of their time with Wade the first time around, and they reveal what they learned most from Wade when asked how he most helped their game/career.

Heat Rumors: Winslow, Whiteside, Dragic, Ellington

Although the Heat lack a superstar player, there’s optimism within the organization that the team is capable of winning upwards of 50 games and a playoff round or two. Still, the Heat are aware that they face “major questions” about their ceiling, Zach Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN.com. As such, Miami is a team that figures to be active as the trade deadline approaches.

According to Lowe, the Heat – who may be in the tax next season – are projecting optimism that they could trade the lucrative new long-term contracts handed out to the likes of Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk if they need to. However, rival executives are skeptical that all those deals would be easily movable.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Heat’s outlook and trade possibilities:

  • Justise Winslow has been surpassed by Josh Richardson as the Heat’s small forward of the future, while Johnson has emerged as Miami’s top small-ball power forward, according to Lowe, who suggests that Winslow is a potential trade chip for the Heat. Lowe adds that multiple rival execs are calling Winslow the Heat’s version of Jahlil Okafor, though he thinks that’s “a little much.”
  • The Heat’s best and most realistic trade package if they look to make a big splash would likely be Winslow and Hassan Whiteside, says Lowe. Neither player has been a major part of Miami’s best crunch-time lineup as of late, so the club could dangle that duo in search of a star center.
  • The Heat have shown no interest in trading Goran Dragic, per Lowe’s league sources.
  • Waiters’ ankle injury has created some tension in Miami, with Waiters seeking a second opinion after the team put him on a non-surgical rehab program. The two sides hope to get clarity on Waiters’ recovery this week or next, according to Lowe, who notes that the veteran guard “almost feels redundant” on a Heat roster that features several ball-handlers.
  • Long-term luxury tax concerns for the Heat may cost them Wayne Ellington. The veteran sharpshooter is in line for a raise when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and Miami likely won’t be able to afford him, prompting Lowe to wonder if the club would consider trading him rather than losing him for nothing.

Heat Notes: Frontcourt, Waiters, Patience

This time last season, Heat president Pat Riley made the decision to stand pat with a veteran core and it paid off in the form of one of the most impressive in-season turnarounds in recent memory. You can imagine, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel suggests, that Miami’s success so far in 2017/18 has muted trade talk at this point in the season.

The Heat, 20-17 and currently seventh in the East, sit well situated to nab a playoff spot. It’s plausible to even consider that they could gain the 1.5 games necessary to catch the Wizards who currently sit fourth in the conference if all breaks right down the stretch.

While Riley may not be content with a team whose long-term ceiling seems to fall short of genuine contention, there’s no indication that the organization won’t remain patient for the time being.

There’s more from South Beach:

  • The Heat have found success starting seven-footers Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk together and aren’t about to abandon the unconventional approach, even in the throes of the small ball era. “Right now, we’re going with it,” head coach Erik Spoelstra told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “There’ll be minutes that they’ll play together. There’s certain part of that combination that I really like and other parts that have to get better. […] And I don’t necessarily look at Kelly as seven-footer. He has versatility that’s much different than a normal seven-footer.
  • Plagued by a lingering sprained ankle, Heat guard Dion Waiters is pursuing a second opinion on how to treat the injury, an Associated Press report says. Waiters considered surgery when he initially hurt the ankle last March and may consider it again. The 26-year-old has already missed seven games this season, making it unlikely that he reaches the 70-game threshold required for a contract bonus to kick in.
  • A hypothetical trade scenario that would involved sending Hassan Whiteside to the Grizzlies in exchange for Marc Gasol is an intriguing one, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says in a question-and-answer feature with readers, but the dicey history between Gasol and former Heat assistant coach David Fizdale could be a red flag.

Southeast Notes: Whiteside, Payton, Gordon

Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned from injury this week after missing 13 games with a bone bruise in his left knee. In his absence, the Heat modified their offense a bit to involve their big men in more dribble handoffs and other ball-handling activities, showcasing the skill of players like Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. And as Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel reports, Whiteside will be called upon to continue this change.

“You’re going to get assists when you handle the ball more,” he said. “It’s just part of the game. (Coach is) putting it into the big’s hands more (and) I love it, man. I can’t wait to get my hands into that. It’s not as much pick-and-roll as much as it was. It’s more handoffs, bigs flashing to the elbows, that sort of stuff.”

And while Whiteside is eager to see how he fits into the new offense, Winderman figures that the adjustment will be gradual as Whiteside’s playing time increases. As head coach Eric Spoelstra explained, “The rhythm, the timing, the cohesiveness, you can’t take it for granted. You actually have to spend time working at it and getting back into the swing of things. It’s one thing to watch it. It’s different when you drill five on five.”

There’s more today from the Southeast Division:

  • Magic guard Elfrid Payton may be playing some of the best basketball of his career, and it’s on the heels of head coach Frank Vogel asking Payton for more production and aggressiveness in the wake of a rash of injuries to the Magic roster, reports John Denton of NBA.com. Payton has averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 assists and 5.3 rebounds a game on 59.5 percent shooting since he was approached by Vogel.
  • As we discussed yesterday, Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac is out indefinitely while he recovers from injury. In another piece for NBA.com, Denton explains how Isaac is being patient and waiting for his ankle to completely heal. Said Isaac, “Just take my time, day-by-day. It’s tough (being out). It takes time and trying to come back when it’s not completely there (physically) is tough, so I just have to be patient and take it day-by-day.’’
  • In yet another story for NBA.com, Denton also profiles how Aaron Gordon is beginning to embrace pressure packed moments. Gordon, only 22, has already made two game-winning three pointers for the Magic this season.