Luke Babbitt

Hawks Notes: Babbitt, Dedmon, Tanking

The Hawks were in the bottom half of the league in three-point shooting last season, but the team’s front office believes the addition of Luke Babbitt will help them improve in that area, as KL Chouinard of NBA.com relays.

“Luke is a proven veteran and adds another experienced player to our locker room,” GM Travis Schlenk said of Babbitt. “He is one of the premier long-range shooting big men in the league, has played a variety of roles over his career and will contribute to our team.”

Babbitt, who inked a one-year deal with Atlanta last week, said he’s excited to play under coach Mike Budenholzer.

“When I got the call, the first thing I thought of was Coach Bud. I’ve always respected what he did from afar,” Babbitt said. “I’m really excited to play for him and be with this young group of guys.”

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • Babbitt continued to praise the Hawks‘ system, citing the ball movement and the unselfishness in how the players operate on the floor, as KL Chouinard passes along in the same piece. The small forward believes he can assist the team’s playmakers with his ability to space the floor. “Dennis [Schroder] and (Kent Bazemore], they’re the attackers on this team,” Babbitt said. “It’s something I’m really looking forward to this season: creating space and opportunities for them.”
  • Atlanta pried Dewayne Dedmon away the from the Spurs in free agency and Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders believes the signing could have major upside. Dedmon, who’s on a two-year, $14MM deal, didn’t play basketball until he was a junior in college, meaning he only has been on the court for slightly over seven years.
  • While the Hawks will likely take a step back this season, tanking is something that interests coach Budenholzer, Grizzard writes in the same piece. The scribe adds that the goal of the front office is to retool while remaining competitive.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Wizards, Babbit

The contract extension that 2015 second-round pick Josh Richardson is eligible for with the Heat would value him similarly to NBA role players Matthew Dellavedova and Cristiano Felicio, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

Considering that Richardson is an established high character rotation piece already familiar with the Heat’s system, such an investment wouldn’t exactly be excessive.

Through two seasons with the Heat, Richardson has averaged 8.4 points on .374 shooting from beyond the arc. His length and ability to contribute on the defensive end make him one of the team’s most well-rounded assets.

As we wrote earlier this week, Richardson may be wise to wait until the June 2018 deadline before making his decision. If he doesn’t accept the four-year, $42MM extension with the Heat he’ll be a restricted free agent come July 1, 2018.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

 

Hawks Sign Luke Babbitt To One-Year Deal

AUGUST 9: The Hawks have officially signed Babbitt, the team confirmed today in a press release.Luke Babbitt vertical

AUGUST 4: The Hawks have reached an agreement to sign free agent forward Luke Babbitt, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Babbitt will receive a one-year contract from Atlanta.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports (via Twitter) that Babbitt’s one-year deal will be worth $1.9MM. The minimum salary in 2017/18 for a player with Babbitt’s experience is $1,974,159, so it sounds like it’ll be a minimum pact.

Babbitt, 28, spent last season with another Southeast team, averaging 4.8 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 68 games for Miami. Although Babbitt’s numbers were modest, he started 55 games for Miami and knocked down 41.4% of his three-point attempts, playing a role for the club during its 30-11 second-half run.

Few players have been as reliable from outside in recent years as Babbitt, who has made an impressive 43.8% of his long-distance attempts since the start of the 2014/15 season. He’ll bring that shooting touch to an Atlanta team that waived Mike Dunleavy Jr. earlier this summer.

Babbitt was one of five notable free agent forwards we identified as potentially intriguing investments earlier this week. The other four, including Dunleavy, remain on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Notable Forwards Still Available In Free Agency

While most of the biggest names still available on the free agent market are restricted free agents, there are several noteworthy unrestricted players who are free to sign outright with any NBA team. Over the last several days, we’ve identified a number of those players, examining five notable guards, wings, and big men who remain unsigned.

Today, we’ll close out our look at those notable remaining free agents by focusing on a handful of forwards who could appeal to NBA clubs. Some of these players could be considered wings or bigs, but we’ve split them off into their own category — these are frontcourt players who probably shouldn’t be relied on as the man in the middle of any lineup that’s not unusually small.

The Raptors, Hawks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Spurs, and Hornets are among the teams that could potentially use a little more frontcourt depth, though those aren’t the only clubs who may be suitors for the players listed below.

Here are five notable free agent forwards to keep an eye on:

  • Dante Cunningham — An eight-year veteran, Cunningham has been a solid rotation player for most of his career, but recently added a new wrinkle to his game. After making just two three-pointers in his first six seasons, Cunningham has made 126 over the last two years, shooting an impressive 39.2% from long range in 2016/17. The apparent lack of interest in the 30-year-old so far suggests teams may be a little skeptical of his newfound range, but if he can keep it up, he’d make for an intriguing stretch four. The Knicks were linked to Cunningham in May and the Jazz were said to have interest last month, though it’s not clear if either team is still in on him.
  • Michael Beasley — While he never lived up to his pre-draft billing, Beasley – a former second overall pick – continued to provide value as a scorer off the bench in Milwaukee last season. In 56 games for the Bucks, the veteran forward averaged 9.4 PPG with a career-best .532 FG% and .419 3PT%. The lack of recent updates on our player page on Beasley suggests that he hasn’t been the subject of any substantial rumors this summer, which is a little surprising. I can think of several teams that could use a player like him in their second unit.
  • Luke Babbitt — Babbitt started 55 games for the Heat last season, but only averaged 15.7 minutes per contest, so his role was limited. Still, few players around the NBA have been more reliable three-point shooters in recent years. Babbitt has made an impressive 43.8% of his long-distance attempts since the start of the 2014/15 season. Miami was reportedly monitoring the former first-round pick earlier in the free agent period, but with Kelly Olynyk now in the mix for the Heat, a reunion may not be cards — Babbitt is said to be weighing other options.
  • Boris Diaw — A longtime contributor in San Antonio, Diaw joined the Jazz last season and saw his production dip — his PPG (4.6), FG% (.446), and 3PT% (.247) marks were all among the worst of his career. Diaw is 35, so we shouldn’t necessarily count on him to bounce back strong in 2017/18, but if he still has something left in the tank, he’s worth a minimum salary investment. Diaw’s ability to distribute the ball is somewhat rare for a forward, and he can fit into a wide range of lineups. The Raptors may be one possibility for him.
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr. — Like Babbitt, Dunleavy could provide immediate help for a team in need of some outside shooting, but like Diaw, his age is a concern; he’ll turn 37 in September. Nonetheless, Dunleavy continued to make threes at a consistent rate in 2016/17, converting 39.6% of his outside attempts despite averaging a career-low 15.9 minutes per game. The Timberwolves were identified as a possible suitor for Dunleavy earlier in the offseason, and even though that report is over a month old, Minnesota still makes sense as a landing spot. Tom Thibodeau‘s club could use another shooter or two, and Thibodeau coached Dunleavy in Chicago.

Note: Restricted free agents aren’t noted here, since they’re not free to sign with any team, but Nikola Mirotic and JaMychal Green are among the noteworthy RFA forwards still on the market.

Heat Notes: Richardson, Clark, Rose, Winslow

Starting Thursday, the Heat will be able to offer a contract extension to third-year guard Josh Richardson, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The offer can be as much as $43MM over four years, and Richardson would have until the start of the regular season to accept it. If he doesn’t, he will become a restricted free agent next summer.

Richardson has been valuable when he’s been in the lineup, but he was limited to 53 games last year because of injuries. Knee surgery forced him to miss training camp and the first four regular season games, then ankle problems sidelined him in midseason.

Jackson expects the Heat to offer at least $30MM over three years, with a player option for the final season. Given the decline in money going to mid-level free agents this summer, Richardson might find that offer appealing.

Here are some more Heat-related notes, courtesy of Jackson:

  • Miami seems likely to hold onto its $4.3MM mid-level exception for the buyout season. The Heat like former Warrior Ian Clark, who once played for Miami’s summer league team, but he’s looking for $8MM, well out of their price range. There’s also not an obvious role for Clark in an already-crowded backcourt.
  • The Heat also didn’t have playing time to give Derrick Rose, which is why they didn’t try to top Cleveland’s $2.1MM offer. Miami’s front office had interest in Rose, but the team is already committed to Goran Dragic as its starter as point guard.
  • Justise Winslow held a press conference this week and said his injured right shoulder will be fully healed by training camp. The second-year forward played just 18 games last year and had season-ending surgery in early January.
  • Free agent big man Luke Babbitt, who was acquired from the Pelicans in a trade last summer, is examining his options for next season. He made $1.227MM last year.
  • Willie Reed probably wouldn’t have opted out of his contract with the Heat if he knew he wouldn’t be getting a raise. The 27-year-old center agreed to a minimum-salary deal with the Clippers worth $1.5MM for one year, roughly the same amount he would have gotten in Miami. Reed said L.A. wants him to provide a defensive presence as a backup to DeAndre Jordan. “I felt like it was a comfortable position and it was kind of similar to the role that I played in Miami,” Reed said, “so it wouldn’t be difficult for me to adjust.”

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.”

Free Agent Rumors: Celtics, Heat, Cavs, Wolves

Having landed Gordon Hayward, the Celtics have shifted their focus to adding a rim-protecting big man, and are showing interest in several free agents who fit that bill, tweets Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Currently, the Celtics could only offer the $4.3MM room exception, but if they clear more than the minimum space necessary for Hayward’s deal, they could potentially make a bigger offer.

Speaking of Hayward, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News talked at length with agent Mark Bartelstein about how and why his client’s free agency announcement turned into such a mess on Tuesday. As Genessy details, via Bartelstein, Hayward went back and forth between the Jazz and Celtics before making his final decision.

Here are more free agency updates from around the NBA:

  • Having reached a deal with Dion Waiters, the Heat have interest in bringing back James Johnson and Luke Babbitt as well, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Bartelstein, who is also Johnson’s agent, will talk to Pat Riley tonight, according to Jackson.
  • While Richard Jefferson, who is under contract for 2017/18, plans to return to the Cavaliers, James Jones may not, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Agent Joel Bell says that neither the Cavs nor Jones have made any decisions, but a source tells Vardon that Jones – who is a free agent – won’t be back in Cleveland next season.
  • The Timberwolves have touched base with veteran free agent Vince Carter, but there’s nothing “concrete” happening with him for now, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • The Mavericks are considering adding German power forward Maxi Kleber, per Sportando (Twitter link). Kleber expects to continue playing for Bayern Munich if he doesn’t make the jump to the NBA.

Heat Notes: Leaf, Collins, Reed, Aldridge

The Heat will be looking for size with the 14th pick, especially if Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell are both off the board, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. T.J. Leaf, who proved to be an effective outside shooter at UCLA, is a possibility, along with Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who can also hit from 3-point range. Miami would like to find a stretch four to team with Hassan Whiteside, a traditional low-post center.

If Collins is off the board, Jackson says the Heat will look at Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. Both are 6’11” and are targeted for the back of the lottery or possibly later. A minor injury prevented Allen from working out for Miami, but he held an interview Sunday and reportedly impressed team officials. Patton did participate in a workout for the Heat on Sunday.

Jackson offers more insight into Miami’s strategy for tonight and beyond:

  • Drafting a backup center would protect the Heat in case Willie Reed leaves in free agency. The front office fears that Reed will get an offer significantly higher than the team is willing to pay.
  • Leaf could be a replacement for either Luke Babbitt or James Johnson, two forwards who are both headed for free agency.
  • Another big man to consider is John Collins of Wake Forest, who impressed the Heat in a workout last week. Miami will also look at Duke’s Harry Giles, but might be scared off by his history of knee problems. Giles canceled a workout in Miami and never rescheduled.
  • If the Heat decide to trade down, they will focus on UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo.
  • Miami is a possible destination if LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of San Antonio. The Spurs are seeking a top 10 draft pick and would like to cut salary to make a run at Chris Paul. Jackson says Miami could offer a competitive package of the 14th pick, Wayne Ellington, whose $6.27MM contract won’t be guaranteed until July 12th, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts.

Southeast Notes: Wall, Porter, Gortat, Waiters, Ball

During the Wizards‘ Game 7 loss to the Celtics, Washington’s bench was outscored 48 to 5. That glaring disparity was certainly not lost on John Wall, writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. In fact, Wall’s last words before leaving the court Monday night were, “Forty-eight to five,” which he then repeated before departing with, “Our bench had five points.”

Here’s more out of the Southeast:

  • Despite the immense disappointment Wizards players are feeling after their Game 7 defeat, players expressed confidence that the team can continue to compete at a high level if it can keep its best players together. Otto Porter, a restricted free agent this offseason, is considered by teammates Wall, Bradley Beal, and Markieff Morris to be a vital part of the team’s core, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Morris tells Buckner that Porter is worth a max contract and he hopes that he gets it.
  • As reported earlier today, Marcin Gortat feels underappreciated by the Wizards and may request a trade.  More details and quotes on Gortat’s feelings can be found via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
  • Impeding Heat free agent Dion Waiters said that the Heat do not need Lonzo Ball because they are covered at the point guard position with Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and “other [players],”  reports Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters also offered advice for Ball: “He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to play his game. He’s got to go somewhere where he’s able to make mistakes. Because I think in this game today, he’s got to be able to make mistakes and have a coach who allows you to make mistakes, and you can learn from it.”
  • Luke Babbitt‘s future with the Heat is written about by Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman concludes that, while Babbitt likely will not be an offseason priority for the Heat, the team will consider him because of his Bird Rights and skill set.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Johnson, Winslow

Heat players recently cleaned out their lockers, having failed to make the playoffs, and many of them will have an opportunity to go elsewhere this summer. James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, and Luke Babbitt will be free agents. Willie Reed, Josh McRoberts, and Dion Waiters all hold player options and Wayne Ellington could join the free agent market if the franchise declines his $6.27MM team option.

Coach Erik Spoelstra wants his players to feel comfortable returning to Miami, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. “This is clean-up day, not clean-out day,” the coach said.

Spoelstra added that his goal is to move forward with the team’s current group and compete for a championship. “Our organization is not going to change. We’re hard-wired to play and compete for championships,” he said. “Hopefully this is dot-dot-dot continued and we can build on this.”

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat are thrilled with Hassan Whiteside‘s growth this season, as Winderman relays in the same piece. “I think his growth has been staggering,” Spoelstra said of the big man. “You can define it how you want. He can become one of the greats.” Whiteside signed a four-year, $98.4MM contract with Miami last offseason.
  • Johnson may consider taking a discount to stay with the Heat if it means keeping this year’s group together, Winderman passes along (Twitter links). “I’m home. That’s what it feels like. I love it here,” Johnson said of Miami.
  • Justise Winslow is recovering from shoulder surgery and is “way ahead of schedule,” according to Spoelstra, as Winderman relays via Twitter.
  • Prior to the injury, the Heat strongly believed Winslow would become a quality starter due to the work he put in last summer to improve his shooting, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Winslow admits that being sidelined hindered his ability to get comfortable with his new shooting mechanics, but added that he’ll continue to work on that part of his game.
  • Spoelstra feels Winslow would have helped Miami this season because of his efficient play, as Jackson passes along in the same piece. “He can generate threes for you offensively because he puts a lot of pressure in the paint, off the dribble, in transition. He’s an aggressive, bruising, physical type of player and he sees the floor. That helps create your three-point game,” the coach said.
  • In his latest mailbag, Winderman explains why it’ll be hard for the Heat to add a major free agent, such as Paul Millsap, and bring back the core of this year’s squad. The team can feasibly carve out approximately $37MM in cap space this summer and that may not be enough for Miami to add a max player in addition to own free agents.
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