Kelly Olynyk

Heat Notes: Nelson, Hammons, Olynyk, Winslow

Jameer Nelson may seem like an attractive option for a Heat team without a true backup point guard, but that doesn’t mean Miami will try to sign him, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel in a mailbag column. The Nuggets waived Nelson today to open a roster space for Richard Jefferson. If no one claims the 35-year-old and his more than $4.7MM salary before Friday, he will become a free agent and can sign with any organization.

The Heat’s option best option to back up Goran Dragic, according to Winderman, is probably Josh Richardson, who is being used as the starting small forward. Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson can all handle the ball, but none is a traditional point guard.

Winderman states that team president Pat Riley didn’t seem concerned about finding another backup when he was asked about the situation in preseason. “If we didn’t feel comfortable with Tyler and with Josh and also with Dion, then we would have gotten probably, exactly what you’re talking about — a veteran, 10, 12 years in the league, can really play, smart, can run an offense, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera,” Riley said. “But we don’t feel like we need that. And if we did, then it would have been easy for us to acquire that kind of player.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • A.J. Hammons‘ easier path to being traded may have helped him earn Miami’s final roster spot, Winderman adds in the same piece. DeAndre Liggins, who was waived Saturday, would have provided wing depth and probably would have played more than Hammons, whom Winderman ranks eighth among the team’s bigs. However, because Liggins signed with the Heat during the offseason, league rules wouldn’t have allowed him to be traded until December 15. Hammons, who was acquired in a July trade with Dallas, can be dealt at any time.
  • Miami plans to let free agent addition Kelly Olynyk show off his passing skills, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The Heat signed Olynynk with an eye toward allowing him to expand his game, just as they did with James Johnson. “They’re going to put the ball in my hands more and let me be myself and create plays and facilitate for others,” Olynyk said.
  • Rodney McGruder‘s injury means the Heat can’t afford to bring Winslow back slowly, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Winslow had surgery in January to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder and was limited to 18 games last season. “Obviously we don’t like to see teammates go down – that’s unfortunate – but our mentality is always next man up,” Winslow said. “So, most likely, that’s looking like me. My role is going to be increased earlier in the season. I’ve just got to be ready.”

Heat Rumors: Hammons, Liggins, Olynyk, Waiters

Rodney McGruder‘s injury could force the Heat to address the imbalanced roster, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. McGruder is out 3-6 months with a stress fracture in his leg, swinging the door open for Miami to keep or add another wing player, Jackson continues. The bottom of the roster is filled with power forwards and centers — Bam Adebayo, Udonis Haslem, Jordan Mickey and A.J. Hammons — and the Heat may have to waive Hammons and his guaranteed two-year contract to fortify the wing positions. Miami could keep either DeAndre Liggins or Matt Williams Jr. from its training-camp roster to fill the void, Jackson adds.

In other developments concerning the Heat:

  • Kelly Olynyk has made a strong case to be the starting power forward, even though James Johnson came into camp as the favorite to win the job, Jackson reports in another story. Olynyk has meshed well with center Hassan Whiteside in preseason action, which is making the decision tougher for coach Erik Spoelstra, Jackson continues. “Their skill sets really complement each other,” Spoelstra told Jackson and other media members. “Kelly does a lot of things very similar to JJ in his own personality, in his own way. We think it fits. We think it works whether he comes off the bench or not, I like the dynamic.”
  • Dion Waiters had to wait out the Gordon Hayward free agent saga before the Heat committed to him with a four-year, $52MM contract, Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni notes during an in-depth feature on Waiters. A confident Waiters opted out of his deal this summer and the gamble ultimately paid off when Miami lost the Hayward sweepstakes and instead spent a chunk of their free-agent money on Waiters. “He likes to say he bet on himself, but he also bet on the organization,” Spoelstra told Nadkarni. “We bet on him as well. We’re not only about reclamation projects. We wanted to develop a relationship that would last longer than a year.”

Atlantic Notes: Miles, Morris, Covington, Olynyk

C.J. Miles and Norman Powell enter the Raptors’ training camp as the primary contenders for the starting small forward spot, coach Dwane Casey told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and other media members. The winner in the competition will join guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, power forward Serge Ibaka and center Jonas Valanciunas in the starting five. Miles, the former Pacers swingman, was signed by Toronto as a free agent in July. “It could be either one,” Casey said.Delon Wright may see some minutes at the three because he’s a versatile young man. Bruno (Caboclo) gives you a standstill shooter.” The spot opened up when DeMarre Carroll was dealt to the Nets in July.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris will miss the start of training camp Tuesday until his trial on an aggravated assault charge in Arizona is resolved, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com reports. His brother, Wizards forward Markieff Morris, is also on trial on in the felony case. Marcus Morris was acquired by Boston this summer in the deal that sent guard Avery Bradley to the Pistons.  The Morris brothers face possible prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension if they are found guilty, Forsberg adds.
  • Sixers forward Robert Covington strikes an optimistic note that an agreement will be reached regarding an extension or renegotiation of his current contract, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Covington, who stands to make less than $1.6MM this season, is in the unusual position of being eligible for an extension or renegotiation. It can’t be finalized until November 15, the three-year anniversary of when Covington signed his current deal.
  • Power forward Kelly Olynyk never wanted to leave the Celtics, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe notes. The Celtics’ brass kept in touch with Olynyk during the Gordon Hayward free agent saga, Washburn adds. When Hayward agreed to join Boston, Olynyk’s rights were renounced to create cap space and he soon signed with the Heat.

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.

Southeast Notes: Incentives, Gortat, Kidd-Gilchrist

The Heat found a creative way to pad the contracts of their offseason signees, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes, by loading the deals with impressive bonuses and incentives. Dion Waiters, for example, can net over $1M in addition to his traditional $11M deal by simply appearing in 70 or more games this season.

While Waiters only appeared in 46 contests last year, thereby making this an “unlikely” incentive, he played in 70-plus in each of the four seasons prior to 2016/17. Other sorts of bonuses offered include one that would reward Kelly Olynyk should the Heat make the playoffs and another that would sweeten James Johnson‘s deal provided he meets certain body-fat measurement requirements.

Such contractual maneuvers aren’t new for the franchise, Winderman writes, noting that the Heat employed similar tactics, tying routine weigh-ins to retired point guard Tim Hardaway‘s deals.

Incentives are officially classified as “unlikely” if the condition was not met in the previous season. Unlikely incentives do not count toward a team’s salary cap at the time of the signing but they do at the end of the season if the conditions are met. This allowed the Heat flexibility to successfully juggle their returning free agents.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards decided this offseason to stick with their plan of gradually developing their young core, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. While they may have been able to skip the line in the East by going out and acquiring an additional star, the Wizards’ patience could pay off in the long run.
  • A healthy Ian Mahinmi will eat into Marcin Gortat‘s role with the Wizards, Chase Hughes of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. At the end of last season, Gortat expressed doubt about his future in Washington, though he said last month that he’s fully committed to the franchise.
  • Without being asked, head coach Steve Clifford has reiterated that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will start at small forward for the Hornets, Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer writes. Concern over the 23-year-old’s offense has some wondering if he may be better suited for a reserve role.

Heat Notes: Richardson, Olynyk, Ellington

A pair of Heat forwards who spent much of the 2016/17 campaign on the sidelines will be competing hard for a starting role, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Expect Josh Richardson to put up a fight for a shot at the three, while Dion Waiters fills in at shooting guard.

Of course Richardson’s path on the depth chart is blocked by Justise Winslow, another individual expected to compete like crazy for the role, and to an extent, Rodney McGruder.

Last season Richardson averaged 10.2 points per game while Winslow added 10.9 of his own. In addition to modest offense both players provide length and versatility.

Wherever [Erik Spoelstra] wants to take this positionless game, it can be real small, with him playing five on down to three point guards with Justise at four [or three bigs],” team president Pat Riley said.

There’s more out of Miami this evening:

  • A Boston beat writer isn’t all that impressed with some of the contracts on Miami’s payroll but A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England does add that the addition of sharpshooting Kelly Olynyk could bode well for the Heat considering Hassan Whiteside‘s lack of an outside game.
  • The Heat have gotten flak from fans for taking Justise Winslow ahead of Devin Booker in the 2015 NBA Draft but Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reminds readers that there isn’t much point to looking back on such situations in hindsight, especially considering the club had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on board at the time as well.
  • The Heat were fortunate to have Wayne Ellington step up and play a significant part in their turnaround last season but the forward could see his role decrease slightly considering that Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow are expected to be back at full health, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Kelly Olynyk Talks Miami, Free Agency, Whiteside

Kelly Olynyk signed a four-year, $50MM deal with the Heat this offseason, but he insists that his decision to come to Miami was about more than just the money. Coach Erik Spoelstra has used wings and big men as the team’s primary ball handler in the past, which is something that intrigues Olynyk.

“It’s awesome,” Olynyk said (via Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel) “Just that freedom to be able to play easy and free and not super-regimented is huge. I think it helps everybody out. It helps everybody’s skills, to be able to just kind of go with the flow and make things happen. That’s something that looking at Miami and talking to Spo and what his vision is and how they play, it’s something that’s very intriguing.”

The Gonzaga product talked about how he couldn’t have anticipated the ups and downs of free agency and added that he’s thrilled with his ultimate decision.

“You never really know about free agency until you actually go through it, and you don’t realize how crazy it really is,” Olynyk said. “But I’m blessed with an opportunity to be down here, really excited to get started down here.”

Olynyk has already found the practice courts and was able to get some work in alongside his new teammates in Miami. Hassan Whiteside was one of the players who were able to hit the practice courts with Olynyk and the two big man have already developed a friendship.

“He’s a great guy, a great character, a super nice guy,” Olynyk said of Whiteside. “But he’s a beast. I’m really excited to play with him and be able to play with a guy of his size and his abilities on the floor, defensively, offensively, on the glass. He’s awesome to be around and [I’m] really looking forward to playing with him.”

Olynyk, who plays both power forward and center, should see major minutes next to Whiteside this upcoming season. The 26-year-old is a career 36.8% shooter from behind the arc, something that will allow Miami to play the two 7-footers at the same time while maintaining good spacing.

Cap/Salary Notes: Heat, Clippers, Sixers, Chalmers

When the Heat agreed to deals with Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, and James Johnson earlier this month, the reported terms of those agreements looked a little too high for the club to fit within its available cap room. At the time, it appeared the reported salary figures on those deals – $52MM for Waiters, $50MM for Olynyk, and $60MM for Johnson – could be inflated by possible incentives, while the base values ended up being a little smaller.

In the case of Waiters and Olynyk, that’s indeed the case. As Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details, the overall base value of Waiters’ four-year deal is approximately $47.3MM, while Olynyk’s is worth about $45.6MM overall. Pincus doesn’t yet have details on the unlikely incentives included in each contract, but if the terms reported initially are to be believed, it appears each player will have the opportunity to earn more than $1MM in incentives in each year of his new contract with the Heat.

Here are a few more cap, salary, and cash details courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Clippers sent $1.3MM to the Hawks as part of the three-way deal that landed Jamal Crawford in Atlanta, tweets Pincus. Meanwhile, the Clippers also paid $3.2MM to the Sixers to land the second-round pick that became Jawun Evans (Twitter link). That leaves the Clippers with just $600K available to send out in trades for the rest of the 2017/18 league year.
  • The Sixers can no longer receive cash in trades during the current league year, which runs through June 30, 2018. In addition to receiving $3.2MM from the Clippers, they were sent $1.9MM by the Bucks in exchange for the No. 46 pick (Sterling Brown), per Pincus (Twitter link). The limit for cash received in trades this season is $5.1MM.
  • Mario Chalmers is back in the NBA, but his contract suggests he doesn’t necessarily have job security quite yet. According to Pincus (Twitter link), only $25K of Chalmers’ minimum salary deal with the Grizzlies is currently guaranteed.
  • The Knicks sent $400K to the Kings as part of their “trade” that allowed them to hire Scott Perry away from Sacramento, tweets Pincus. Pincus adds (via Twitter) that the Kings and Knicks are now ineligible to trade with one another through the 2017/18 season. We saw that same restriction occur with the Clippers and Celtics a few years ago after L.A. sent Boston compensation to land Doc Rivers.

Heat Notes: Hayward, Irving, Olynyk

Gordon Hayward was extremely inspired during his free agency meeting with the Heat, passes along Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In fact, the small forward was so pumped that he felt about ready to put on a Miami uniform:

After the video, he [Pat Riley] kind of talked a little bit,” Hayward said. “And that was the moment where you kind of do get some chills. And everyone’s wearing their ring, too, everybody on the staff was. And so that’s the moment where you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’ an I-want-to-put-on-the-jersey-right-now type feeling.

Hayward went on, “Miami was the spot that the more and more we talked about it, the more and more it looked like this would be a really, really good fit for me. And we actually broke it down and had like a point system of different pros and cons and on a weighted scale of different things that each city would represent and each team would represent, and Miami was always near the top of the rankings when we did it.”

Hayward was also struck by “this family vibe that they have.”  The now Celtics forward also said about the Heat pitch, “Mark [agent Mark Bartlestein] had tried to tell me, after you talk with him, you’re going to be like, ‘Mark, I’m ready to sign right now.’ You do get that vibe from him. He’s a great motivator. And we watched some videos, too, of the Heat and their tradition. He definitely makes you feel like you’re going to be competing for championships year in and year out.

Here’s more from the Miami Heat:

  • The Heat do not have considerable optimism about being able to land Kyrie Irving in a trade, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Tim Reynolds, who covers the NBA for the Associated Press, said that he does not believe that the Heat are even interested in acquiring Irving. Regardless, Jackson says that the Heat’s best chance to get Irving in a trade is if suitors with more appealing assets cannot strike a deal and the Cavs circle back to Miami.
  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that the Heat have completed more trades, six, with the Cavaliers than any other team. Winderman details this rich trading history, which suggests that an Irving deal should not be viewed as impossible.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman argues that the Heat owe it to themselves to consider trading for Irving. As Winderman puts it, the Heat should consider breaking up a good team to put together a great team. The scribe also points out that Irving’s list of preferred destinations purposefully includes teams with respected coaches and front offices.
  • Eric Pincus tweets that Kelly Olynyk‘s deal includes a 5% trade kicker that cannot be used in excess of $2MM.

 

Pat Riley Talks Offseason, Haslem, Babbitt, More

After an eventful week of free agency, Heat president Pat Riley spoke to local reporters and addressed a handful of subject related to his team and the offseason so far. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald passed along the highlights of that session, so let’s dive in and round up some of Riley’s most notable observations and comments…

  • Riley called the Heat’s pursuit of Gordon Hayward a “no-brainer” even though it didn’t ultimately work out. “The fact Gordon had an interest in us, we felt a need to pursue that but not at the risk of [not] negotiating hard with our own free agents,” Riley said.
  • The Heat went hard after Kelly Olynyk because the team viewed a stretch four or five as one type of player the roster was lacking. Riley also suggested that Olynyk “sets probably the best screens in the NBA” and is an ideal fit alongside Hassan Whiteside or Bam Adebayo.
  • The Heat have used “every last dollar” of the salary cap, but still have the $4.3MM room exception. Still, Riley doesn’t expect the team to use that exception right away. “We have 10 guys that we really like, 11 guys or 12 who will be fighting for rotation minutes,” Riley said. “I’m going to add another room mid level guy who is going to be fighting for 10 minutes? … If something pops up that’s really good, we’ll think about using it.”
  • Asked if the Heat need to add a backup point guard, Riley replied, “Absolutely not.” The Heat president pointed to Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow, and Josh Richardson as possible ball-handlers.
  • Miami wants to re-sign Udonis Haslem and is “still talking” to Luke Babbitt. However, Willie Reed is unlikely to return, per Riley.
  • When it came to the Josh McRoberts trade, A.J. Hammons wasn’t just a throw-in for the Heat — Riley likes what he brings to the table. “He’s the kind of player that fits that mold of a stretch five or four,” Riley said. “We remember him from Purdue. That happened very quickly. We made that deal pretty quickly. We already had scouting reports on him.”
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