Max Strus

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Heat Youth, Hawks, Wagner

In a recent piece for The Athletic, Fred Katz and John Hollinger broke down the Wizards’ offseason, and what may still be in store for the new-look Washington team.

In the piece, the writers look at the team’s greatest strengths heading into the 2021/22 season (guard shot-creation and depth), possible defensive concerns stemming from the lack of defense-minded bigs behind 2021 standout Daniel Gafford, and how the team could cobble together mid-size contracts and young players in lieu of picks in order to find trades that help rebalance the roster.

As for where the Wizards end up in the Eastern Conference hierarchy this season, Hollinger says that after the top eight teams in the East, the Wizards are in a group of four where they are as good or better than any of the rest of their peers. Barring a Bradley Beal trade demand, he writes, they’re likely to return to play-in action.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • In a piece for the Miami Herald, Barry Jackson talks to two veteran scouts to get their takes on Heat youngsters Omer Yurtseven, Max Strus, Marcus Garrett and KZ Okpala. Of Yurtseven, one scout says, “I’m not sure that (he) will be a rotation guy this year. But they have something there.” Both scouts agree that Strus can be a situational, end-of-rotation player, and that Okpala has a lot to prove before he’s considered a lock to remain with the team.
  • In an offseason review, Chris Kirschner of The Athetic profiles where the Hawks are now and where they could be going. Within the article, Kirschner quotes president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk as saying, “Those who want to get traded, they want to go somewhere they think they can win. And I think now that perception of us is out there, because we do have a young core that did show success in the playoffs. So the hope would be when a star player does ask to be traded, we’ll be one of the destinations he’ll be open to coming to.”
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac has the official numbers for Moritz Wagner‘s contract with the Magic: two years at the veteran’s minimum, with the second year non-guaranteed. Wagner joins his brother, eighth overall pick Franz Wagner, as part of Orlando’s young rotation.

Eastern Contract Details: Lowry, Birch, Heat, Dinwiddie, Niang, More

Kyle Lowry‘s new three-year, $85MM contract with the Heat is a standard increasing deal, starting at about $26.98MM and rising annually by 5%, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac.

Based on Lowry’s 2021/22 salary, we now know the value of the traded player exception the Raptors created in their sign-and-trade deal with the Heat, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. That TPE will be worth $4,832,848, which is the difference between Lowry’s new salary and the combined cap hits of Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa.

Murphy also confirms that Khem Birch‘s three-year, $20MM deal with the Raptors is a standard increasing contract with no options or partial guarantees — it eats up about $6.35MM of Toronto’s mid-level exception, leaving $3.187MM on that MLE.

Here are more contract details from around the East, courtesy of Smith:

  • As expected, the new deals for Max Strus, Omer Yurtseven, and Gabe Vincent with the Heat are each two-year, minimum-salary contracts with one year guaranteed and the second year non-guaranteed (Twitter link). P.J. Tucker, meanwhile, got a two-year, $14.35MM contract that uses $7MM of Miami’s mid-level exception in year one. Tucker’s second year is a player option (Twitter link).
  • Spencer Dinwiddie‘s three-year contract with the Wizards only has a base value of $54MM, rather than the previously-reported total of $60MM+ (Twitter link). The deal, which features unlikely incentives that could push its value higher, has a partial guarantee worth $10MM (of $18.86MM) in year three.
  • Georges Niang‘s deal with the Sixers came in at $6.765MM over two years, both of which are fully guaranteed (Twitter link).
  • Trae Young‘s five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Hawks includes a 15% trade kicker (Twitter link).
  • The numbers are also in for the finalized deals between Jarrett Allen and the Cavaliers (Twitter link), Bobby Portis and the Bucks (Twitter link), George Hill and the Bucks (Twitter link), and Danny Green and the Sixers (Twitter link), with no surprises among that group. As expected, Green’s second year is non-guaranteed and Portis has a second-year player option, while Allen and Hill have fully guaranteed salaries.

Heat Re-Sign Max Strus To Two-Year Contract

AUGUST 6: The Heat and Strus have made it official, per a team release.

“As one of our young developing players, Max proved he can be very productive for us,” team president Pat Riley said in a statement. “He stepped up when needed last season and produced. His shooting and overall game is going to help our team immensely.”

AUGUST 2: The Heat will re-sign third-year free agent swingman Max Strus on a two-year contract worth $3.5MM, his agent Mark Bartelstein informs Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). This sum is in line with the amount of a veteran’s minimum deal for Strus.

After going undrafted in 2019 out of DePaul, the Hickory Hills, Illinois native joined his home state Bulls on a two-way contract for the 2019/20 season. Strus suited up for 13 games with Chicago’s NBAGL affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, and had a two-game cameo with Chicago, before suffering a season-ending left ACL tear.

Strus then inked a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 camp deal with the Heat ahead of the 2020/21 season, and later was brought on as a two-way player for the rest of the year. The Heat extended a $50K qualifying offer to the 6’5″ wing this summer, making him a restricted free agent under team control.

During his 39 games with Miami, the 25-year-old Strus averaged 6.1 PPG in 13.0 MPG, while nailing 45.5% of his field goal looks, 33.8% of his three-point tries, and 66.7% of his free throws.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Extend QOs To Robinson, Nunn, Vincent, Strus

The Heat have extended qualifying offers to Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, making the quartet restricted free agents, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.

The QOs for Robinson and Nunn are worth $4.736MM apiece, while Vincent’s QO is $1.67MM and Strus’ would be another two-way deal. Vincent’s offer includes an $84K guarantee as a two-way player over the last two seasons, while Strus’ guarantee would be $50K, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes.

Robinson will be one of the hottest restricted free agents on the market, and Nunn will also likely attract interest from multiple suitors. Miami will have to right to match offer sheets on both of those wing players.

The Heat still need to decide whether to exercise their options on the contracts of Goran Dragic ($19.4MM), Andre Iguodala ($15MM) and Omer Yurtseven ($1.5MM) by 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Southeast Notes: Dinwiddie, Vincent, Strus, Wizards, McMillan

After being swept in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Heat should be in the market for a point guard upgrade. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if free agent Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie could be a good fit. Dinwiddie, 28, missed all but three games in the 2020/21 season recovery from a partially-torn ACL.

A career 31.8% shooter from long range, the 28-year-old Dinwiddie may hurt the Heat’s already-cramped floor spacing playing alongside non-shooting stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Dinwiddie’s abilities as a ball handler and scorer, however, could counter some of the adverse impact his below-average three-point shooting could create.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Sioux Falls Skyforce, NBAGL affiliate of the Heat, will be returning in full force for the 2021/22 season. The Heat will now have to make some decisions on the fates of 2020/21 two-way players Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman notes that Miami could tender qualifying offers to both players to make them restricted free agents. This way, the club could match any contracts they field from other teams. Vincent in particular emerged as one of the club’s best on-ball defenders, while Strus showed promise as a three-point shooter.
  • The Wizards are hoping to add a 2021 second-round draft selection, as they have in both the 2019 and 2020 drafts, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Hughes notes that the club’s recent interviews with Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix of the G League Ignite would suggest that the club is on the hunt for a second-rounder.
  • After being let go by the Pacers following a first-round playoff sweep in 2020, Nate McMillan initially considered sitting out the 2020/21 season. His mind was changed when then-Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce reached out to him. Now, McMillan himself is the club’s interim head coach, leading Atlanta to a 1-1 record in the Eastern Conference Finals. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports details McMillan’s roller-coaster 2020/21 season. “I still wanted to coach [after the 2019/20 season], and after talking with Coach Pierce and hearing his vision, he wanted to get to the next level,” McMillan said. “Which was win. They were rebuilding, but they wanted to win. I thought it would be OK, go down and assist and not deal with the other stuff.” When Pierce was let go following a 14-20 start, McMillan was wary of the optics should he take over midseason. “They wanted to name me head coach; I had to take some time to think about that,” McMillan said. “I talked with Coach Pierce, he basically said he thought that I should take it and move forward.”

Southeast Notes: Herro, Strus, Magic, Graham

For the second time in two weeks, Heat guard Tyler Herro briefly entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols. When he was first affected by the protocols on January 31, Herro only had to sit out a practice before being cleared, but this time around, he missed Thursday’s game in Houston.

Still, Herro and the Heat got good news today, as the second-year sharpshooter was cleared to rejoin the Heat and resume basketball activities. According to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, Herro was flagged after a Thursday test result, but gained clearance after returning multiple negative tests and was able to join the team on its flight to Salt Lake City for Saturday’s game.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In Herro’s absence, two-way player Max Strus took on an increased role on Thursday and had arguably the best game of his NBA career, scoring 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 25 minutes. Strus took advantage of the fact that the Heat were without guards Goran Dragic and Avery Bradley in addition to Herro, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I knew that my hard work would pay off at some point,” Strus said after the game. “To be honest, to be doing this this early in the season, I probably didn’t expect that. But it’s a weird year and there’s a lot of weird things going on. So you’ve just got to be ready.”
  • Already without Markelle Fultz for the rest of the season and dealing with injuries to Michael Carter-Williams and Cole Anthony, the Magic lost another point guard on Thursday when Frank Mason left the game with a groin strain, as Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel details. Mason won’t play on Friday in Sacramento, but Carter-Williams is no longer on the injury report, meaning he should be available for the first time since January 4, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.
  • Given how well LaMelo Ball has played since entering the starting lineup, the Hornets will have to decide what role Devonte’ Graham will have when he returns from the groin injury that his sidelined him for the last three games, says Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “No matter if he’s a starter or off the bench — if he plays first quarter, second quarter, fourth quarter — the guy produces for us,” head coach James Borrego said of Graham. “Having him back on the floor is a good problem — a good thing for me and for us.”

Southeast Notes: Okpala, Strus, Hornets, Monk

Heat forward KZ Okpala is making a strong case to be in the team’s rotation this season, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Okpala, the No. 32 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, played in just five games last season, but the 21-year-old has impressed teammates and staffers alike during training camp.

“His physical tools are what impressed us, in particular the scouting department with Chet [Kammerer] and Adam [Simon] and Eric Amsler and Keith [Askins],” coach Erik Spoelstra said of why the team drafted Okpala. “They all just really thought it was unique how he can move his feet for someone his size. Then his length and he can seem bigger even than what he is. But he had to learn our system, learn the NBA and get in great shape and then be available day after day. 

“This has really been a process since the quarantine in May and June when he was really working just to get his body right doing a lot of player development. That’s a credit to his work and consistency. … I would say he’s probably, considering everything, he probably was arguably top-three best conditioned going into camp, which was important and much different than his previous camp last year.”

Okpala, a 6’8″ forward, could help fill the holes left by Jae Crowder and Derrick Jones Jr., both of whom left in free agency. The Heat lack clarity on a starting five; they could choose to start Meyers Leonard alongside Bam Adebayo, as they did at the beginning of last season, or they could play small and start one of Okpala, Maurice Harkless or Andre Iguodala. The team could also give rookie Precious Achiuwa a shot in the lineup depending on his play.

Okpala had his best game in a Heat uniform on Friday, scoring 24 points, grabbing five rebounds and shooting 9-of-15 from the floor in 34 minutes of work.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • In a separate story for the Miami Herald, Anthony Chiang examines how Max Strus earned a two-way contract with the Heat. Strus, a 24-year-old sharpshooter, finished with 22 points off the bench on Friday, shooting 6-of-8 from 3-point range. He split time between Chicago and Windy City during the 2019/20 season.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic previews the Hornets‘ upcoming season, examining what steps the team could take with the additions of Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball. Charlotte finished just 23-42 last season and ranked 29th in the NBA in offensive efficiency (106.3).
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines Malik Monk‘s future with the Hornets. Charlotte drafted Monk, 22, with the No. 11 pick in 2017, but he’s struggled to gain a rhythm early in his career. He shot under 40% from the field in both of his first two seasons, managing to raise the mark to 43% last season — though his 28% shooting from deep was a career-low.

Heat Convert Max Strus To Two-Way Deal, Waive B.J. Johnson

11:14am: As expected, the Heat have waived Johnson, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

10:50am: The Heat have converted guard/forward Max Strus‘ Exhibit 10 deal into a two-way contract, the team announced in a press release on Saturday. Miami had an open two-way slot alongside point guard Gabe Vincent.

Strus appeared in two preseason contests with the Heat, averaging a team-best 16.5 PPG along with 5.0 RPG and 2.5 APG while shooting 50% from the field. In Miami’s 117-105 win last night over the Raptors, Strus came off the bench to add 22 points while shooting 6-of-8 from three-point range.

Two-way contracts allow NBA teams to carry two extra players in addition to the 15 on their regular season roster. Those deals will likely be more important than ever this season, since two-way players will be permitted to appear in up to 50 regular season games at the NBA level. With the G League season expected to take place in a bubble, two-way players figure to spend most or all of the season with their respective NBA clubs.

Strus’ converted deal means that he beat out swingman B.J. Johnson, who was signed by the Heat in early December. Johnson appeared in just two preseason games with the Heat, averaging 1.5 PPG. It is a near-lock that he’ll be waived, given his non-guaranteed deal, along with the fact that Miami is carrying 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

Heat Sign Max Strus

The Heat have signed free agent wing Max Strus, the team announced today in a press release. The club’s roster is now at 19 players.

While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed in Miami’s announcement, it figures to be a non-guaranteed training camp contract. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets that Strus will compete with Paul Eboua, Breein Tyree, and possibly one more player to claim the Heat’s second two-way contract slot. Gabe Vincent currently occupies one of those two slots.

Strus, 24, spent last season on a two-way contract with the Bulls. The former DePaul standout appeared in 13 games for the Windy City Bulls in the G League and two contests for Chicago in the NBA before a torn ACL prematurely ended his season. He suffered that injury more than 11 months ago, so presumably, if Miami is comfortable signing him, he’ll be ready to go for training camp.

Bulls’ Max Strus Suffers Torn ACL

Bulls two-way player and rookie guard Max Strus has suffered a torn ACL and bone bruise to his left knee and will be sidelined for eight-to-12 months, according to a team press release.

The injury occurred on Saturday in the Windy City Bulls game against the Lakeland Magic at the G League Winter Showcase. The diagnosis was confirmed today by an MRI and a physical exam.

He will undergo surgery in approximately three weeks after his swelling and discomfort subsides, the press release adds.

Strus averaged 18.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 3.2 APG in 13 games for Windy City this season and also made two cameos with the NBA Bulls. He was signed in October after completing his college career at DePaul. In 35 games in 2018/19, Strus averaged 20.1 PPG and 5.9 RPG with a shooting line of .429/.363/.842.

Strus was originally signed to a two-way contract with the Celtics, but he was moved to Boston’s standard roster and later waived when the team decided to retain Javonte Green and Tacko Fall to start the regular season.