Matt Williams

Central Notes: Gilbert, Turner, McMillan, M. Williams

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert won’t be involved with the team’s draft preparations as he continues to recover from a stroke, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Gilbert is still in a Detroit-area hospital, and Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner issued a statement today suggesting that the recovery might be lengthy.

“Dan’s recovery is a process that will take time — but we are all confident that he will meet this challenge head on as he always does,” Farner wrote.

Sources tell Fedor that Gilbert has already approved an aggressive spending plan if GM Koby Altman believes it’s necessary to improve the team. That includes taking back a sizable contract to get rid of J.R. Smith, who was exiled from the team after playing just 11 games this season. Cleveland owns picks No. 5 and 26 in the draft and will reportedly try to buy into the second round.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Competing for a spot on Team USA for the FIBA World Cup tournament will give Pacers center Myles Turner another shot to gain recognition after being left off the All-Defensive team, notes Scott Agness of The Athletic. Turner led the league in total blocked shots with 199 and blocks per game at 2.7, but didn’t receive first- or second-team honors. Two of Turner’s teammates, Lithuanian center Domantas Sabonis and Canadian guard Cory Joseph, will be in China for the tournament.
  • Pacers coach Nate McMillan was slated to be an assistant to Gregg Popovich on Team USA, but he withdrew after Indiana was scheduled for a trip to India in early October, Agness adds in the same piece. The World Cup title game is September 15, and McMillan wants to focus on his NBA responsibilities. “My first priority is the Pacers,” he said. “I committed to USA Basketball before I got the schedule next season for us.”
  • Former Heat guard Matt Williams was invited to a free agent mini-camp with the Pistons, tweets Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Williams appeared in three games as a two-way player for Miami during the 2017/18 season before playing this year in Finland and Greece. Forward Marc Loving, formerly of Ohio State, also received an invitation (Twitter link). He played in the G League this season.

International Notes: Kilpatrick, M. Williams, China, Pitino

Sean Kilpatrick received an offer to play for Panathinaikos is Greece, but turned it down as he waits for another NBA opportunity, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The news was first reported by George Zakkas of SDNA.

Saturday marked the first day that NBA teams could offer 10-day contracts, and Kilpatrick, who has gone that route with four organizations, is hoping it will be his way back into the league. He played for four teams last season, starting the year with the Nets before being waived in December. He signed a two-way deal with the Bucks later that month and was converted to a regular NBA contract before being waived in March. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Clippers, then finished the season with the Bulls before they waived him over the summer.

The 29-year-old averaged 6.3 points per game last season, including 15.4 PPG in nine games with Chicago.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Matt Williams, who started last season as a two-way player with the Heat, has reached an agreement with GS Kymis in Greece, Lupo notes in a separate story. Williams began this  season with KTP Basket in Finland. He got into just three games with Miami before being waived in December of 2017.
  • The Lakers and Nets will play a pair of preseason games in China, according to an ESPN report. The contests are set for October 10 in Shanghai and October 12 in Shenzhen. It will be the third appearance in China for LeBron James and possibly the fourth for Lance Stephenson, who will set a record if he remains on the roster.
  • In the wake of Steve Alford’s firing at UCLA, a group of boosters is targeting Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, writes Adam Zagoria for Forbes. Pitino made his debut with the Greek team late last month and is under contract for the rest of the season, so the move couldn’t take effect until the 2019/20 season. A source tells Zagoria that Pitino is “very interested” in taking over the Bruins. Approval from the UC Board of Regents is seen as the main obstacle in light of Pitino’s dismissal from Louisville amid his alleged role in an NCAA scandal. Murray Bartow is serving as interim coach at UCLA.

Matt Williams Signs In Finland

Matt Williams, who held a two-way contract with the Heat for part of last season, has signed to play in Finland, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. KTP-Basket announced the deal with Williams this morning.

Undrafted out of Central Florida in 2017, Williams signed a two-way deal with Miami in mid-October and was waived at the end of December. He appeared in three games at the NBA level, playing 11 total minutes and averaging 1.7 PPG.

Williams was more productive in the G League, averaging 10.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per night in 43 games for the Heat’s affiliate in Sioux Falls.

Hassan Whiteside May Return Tonight

Heat center Hassan Whiteside may return tonight after missing nearly a month with a bone bruise in his left knee, according to a tweet from the team. Whiteside participated in this morning’s shootaround, and a decision on his status will be made after warmups.

Whiteside, who suffered the bone bruise in a November 28 game, had been upgraded to questionable on the team’s official injury report. He has missed 13 games, forcing the team to give more minutes at center to Kelly Olynyk and rookie Bam Adebayo.

Whiteside’s presence in the middle has been an important loss for the Heat, although they managed a 7-6 record without him. He provides a reliable double-double and intimidating defense, even though his numbers through 15 games were down slightly from last season at 14.9 points, 12.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.

A return by Whiteside would help ease the Heat’s injury problems, although Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel reports that forward James Johnson is back on the shelf with ankle bursitis. After missing three games, Johnson made a brief return Saturday before reaggravating the condition.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 10/28/17

Here are the G League updates from around the league today:

  • The Heat sent rookie guard Matt Williams to their affiliate in Sioux Falls, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel.
  • The Jazz recalled  Tony Bradley from the Salt Lake Stars, the team announced on its website. The rookie center hasn’t appeared in a game yet for Utah.

Heat Notes: Olynyk, Whiteside, Hayward, Williams

Free agent addition Kelly Olynyk has dropped 16 pounds and made changes to his game since coming to Miami, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. Olynyk believes the weight loss has made him more mobile, and he is tied for the early-season league lead in drawing charges.

“You’re trying to beat somebody to a spot, and if they’re going to go through you, then you got to go down,” Olynyk explained. “In this league and the way it’s played today, sometimes if you try to stand your ground and try to resist and you go into them, now they flop and now it’s your fault. So why take the risk? It’s a turnover, it’s your ball and now you’re going the other way.”

Olynyk’s four-year, $50MM deal includes a $1MM bonus if he plays 1,700 minutes this season, a figure he never reached in his four seasons with Boston.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Starting center Hassan Whiteside began drills Friday with assistant coach Juwan Howard, but still isn’t ready for a full practice, Navarro adds in the same story. Whiteside has missed four straight games with a bone bruise in his left knee. The Heat prefer that their players participate in a full-contact practice before being cleared for games. “We’re going to be in constant communication as he rehabs and does treatment and starts to get back into the mix and that’s why we’re just continuing to say he’s day by day, because that’s what he is,” said coach Erik Spoelstra.
  • If not for the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, tonight would have been the Heat’s first meeting with a player they tried hard to get in free agency, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami was among three finalists for Hayward, along with Boston and Utah, and waited through and waited four days before he announced his intention to join the Celtics. “We loved the meeting with Gordon,” Spoelstra said. “There’s a reason why we recruited him. And we thought it went well. You just never know how those things are going to play out.”
  • Rookie guard Matt Williams, who was assigned to the G League today, only used up three of his allotted NBA days this week, Winderman tweets. Williams, who is limited to 45 days in his two-way contract, spent four games with the team before being demoted. The clock didn’t start until Monday when G League training camps opened, Thursday didn’t count because the Heat had an off day and Friday was considered a travel day as Williams headed for Sioux Falls. The 3-point specialist didn’t get into a game for Miami.

Heat Make Matt Williams’ Contract A Two-Way Deal

The Heat have converted rookie guard Matt Williams‘ deal into a two-way contract, the team announced on its website. The move officially puts Miami at the regular season limit, with 15 players on the roster and two-way deals for Williams and Derrick Walton.

Because Williams had an Exhibit 10 contract, the move did not require his consent, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Two-way contracts limit players to 45 days in the NBA and set their salaries between $75K and $275K.

Williams signed with the Heat in July after playing for their summer league teams in Orlando and Las Vegas. He appeared in all six preseason games and averaged 2.2 points in 6.4 minutes per night.

Williams went undrafted out of Central Florida after topping 1,000 career points and becoming the school’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers with 274.

Heat Waive Liggins, McCree, Mitchell

Miami trimmed its roster to 17 players by waiving DeAndre Liggins, Erik McCree and Tony Mitchell, the team announced on its website.

Liggins signed with the Heat on Tuesday after being acquired and waived by the Hawks last month. He started Friday’s preseason game and scored five points. A two-time G League Defensive Player of the Year, Liggins will likely wind up with Miami’s affiliate in Sioux Falls if he clears waivers.

Mitchell, a 25-year-old power forward who signed with Miami on Thursday, has played 96 games for Sioux Falls since 2013. McCree, who inked a training camp deal in September, is a 23-year-old forward from Louisiana Tech.

With Derrick Walton on a two-way contract, Miami still has one more move to make to reach the roster limit. It’s possible that rookie guard Matt Williams‘ contract could be converted to a two-way deal.

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.”

Heat Notes: G League, Winslow, Whiteside, Williams

The Heat have passed the midway point of the preseason, which means a roster shakeup could be on the way, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. NBA rules state that players are eligible for an “affiliate” tag after spending half the preseason with a team. Winderman uses Erik McCree as an example, saying if he were to be waived now, then sign with another team and get waived again before the season opens, he would be assigned to Miami’s G League affiliate.

Waiving players once they pass the midway point and then signing replacements allows teams to create four affiliate spots for their G League franchises. The Heat pursued that strategy last year when they waived Stefan Jankovic and Keith Benson in the preseason, then signed Vashil Fernandez and Luis Montero, and all four wound up in Sioux Falls. In addition to McCree, Derrick Walton Jr., Matt Williams and Larry Drew II are eligible to join the Skyforce. Drew would be a returning player rather than an affiliate player, while Walton already has a two-way contract and will not count against the 15-man roster limit.

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Justise Winslow will find out soon if the extra time he has been spending with shooting  consultant Rob Fodor is paying off, Winderman adds in a separate piece. The third-year forward has excelled in other areas, but shooting has been a persistent problem since he entered the league. He is a 40% career shooter from the field and 26% from 3-point range and is trying to bounce back from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that limited him to 18 games last season. “The way I see it in the basketball world, or just in general, God doesn’t give everyone everything,” Winslow said. “… And in the sense of basketball, once that thing gets figured out, there’s not much you could say I can’t do. I can bring the ball up. I can guard your best player. I can rebound. I can find my open shooters. I can push it on the break. So once that minor detail gets settled out, I think we’re going to have a very fun ride.”
  • Hassan Whiteside is a traditional low-post center, but the Heat would like to see him expand his shooting range, Winderman adds in another story.
  • Williams’ summer league performance gave him a shot to make the Heat roster, writes Mike Gramajo of The Miami Herald. The 23-year-old signed with Miami in late July after impressing the coaching staff with his performance during the summer. “It feels good just to know that my hard work is starting to pay off,” Williams said. “I’m with a great organization, and it couldn’t be better.”