Heat Rumors

Heat GM Discusses Free Agency, Bryant, Roster, Burks, Butler

The Heat have been relatively quiet this offseason, other than re-signing some of their own free agents. That’s by necessity, rather than by design, general manager Andy Elisburg told the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang and other media members.

The Heat’s in-season trade with the Hornets for Terry Rozier, in which they dealt Kyle Lowry‘s $29.7MM expiring contract and a future first-rounder, essentially eliminated any salary cap flexibility. That transaction put them above the first apron this summer, limiting them to the $5.2MM taxpayer mid-level exception and minimum contracts to offer outside free agents.

“The focus was going to be a little bit more on the draft opportunities and then maybe some other smaller opportunities,” Elisburg said. “Either A, retaining our own free agents, or B, the minimums or some small exception transactions. So that’s how I think we went into the summer with we’re more focused on these types of transactions, maybe not as much on these others, because we’re less likely to be able to do those kinds of transactions.”

Miami wound up re-signing Haywood Highsmith and Kevin Love via Bird and Early Bird rights, respectively, and getting Thomas Bryant back on a minimum deal. The only outside free agent signed was guard Alec Burks, who took the veteran’s minimum.

Here’s more from Elisburg’s media session:

  • Bryant only appeared in 38 games last season but the Heat wanted depth in the middle despite drafting another big man Kel’el Ware. “Thomas filled that space of having another center onto the roster,” Elisburg said. “You’re having to balance your various needs of the roster.”
  • The Heat have a 14-man roster and don’t plan on adding a 15th man, at least not until January when a prorated signing would still keep them below the second tax apron. Miami does not want to exceed that apron. “I think we don’t want to have our hands tied,” Elisburg said. “I think we want to still be flexible, so if there’s an opportunity to make an improvement to the team, so you have a little bit more flexibility to do that. I think there are some teams who are over the second apron who feel that their team is in a place to be able to do that.”
  • Coach Erik Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley have expressed a fondness for Burks over the years and were glad to get him at a reduced price. “It was always in my group of players in that list that came through,” Elisburg said. “So it’s been for a number of years having that conversion. So when the opportunity came this year that he was willing to come to us and willing to come to us at a minimum, we could finally get Alec Burks here.”
  • In a separate interview with Sirius XM, Elisburg addressed Jimmy Butler‘s contract situation. Butler is eligible to sign a maximum two-year contract extension worth about $113MM but Butler intends to play this upcoming season without signing an extension in hopes of getting a max contract next summer. He would decline his $52.4MM option for the 2025/26 season and become a free agent to make that happen. “As Pat said at his press conference, it doesn’t have to be something you do now,” Elisburg said. “You have an opportunity to do this all year long, so there’s an opportunity to do it at some point in time. And there’s an opportunity if he becomes a free agent next year to sit down and do a contract at that point in time. So there’s always an opportunity to do it.” Riley expressed concerns with Butler’s injury issues during his postseason press conference.

Heat Notes: Jovic, Swider, Williams, Jaquez

A report from Serbian outlet Meridian Sport (hat tip to Eurohoops) suggests that forward Nikola Jovic suffered a fracture in his ankle joint in the spring, but the Heat continue to refer to Jovic’s injury – which he sustained last month during a drill at Kaseya Center – as a left ankle sprain and a fractured toe, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

According to Chiang, the injury has improved in recent weeks and the Heat expect the former first-round pick to be available when training camps tip off this fall. However, Jovic’s status for the Olympics remains up in the air.

The Heat haven’t ruled out the possibility of medically clearing Jovic prior to the Olympics, a league source tells Chiang, but that clearance hasn’t happened yet. And even if the team does clear him, the Serbian basketball federation will make the final decision on Jovic’s status for the Paris Games, Chiang adds.

According to Meridian Sport, Jovic didn’t travel with the Serbian national team for its exhibition games in France (on July 12) and in Abu Dhabi (vs. Australia and the U.S. on July 16-17).

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • In a separate story for The Miami Herald, Chiang examines what it means for the Heat’s roster that they withdrew their qualifying offers to Cole Swider and Alondes Williams. As Chiang details, Miami doesn’t have room under the second tax apron to add a 15th man at this point, but could still rotate players in and out of its two-way contract slots. While the Heat aren’t technically hard-capped at the second apron, they’ve made it clear they have no desire to surpass that threshold unless it’s to acquire a star player.
  • The Heat made an early playoff exit this spring and haven’t done much to upgrade their roster this summer, but they still believe they’re capable of contending if they stay healthy, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson isn’t so sure, arguing that Miami isn’t among the top tier of Eastern Conference teams and making the case that the front office should at least consider the possibility of a Jimmy Butler trade before the season begins.
  • Second-year forward Jaime Jaquez isn’t concerned about the Heat’s relatively quiet offseason, suggesting that the front office’s lack of major moves reflects its confidence in the current group — and in the team’s developmental prowess. “I think when you look at what they’ve been doing in the offseason, they’re betting on the guys that they’ve brought in here, guys that they have drafted,” Jaquez said this week, according to Chiang. “As a player, you got to respect that and you want to make good on their bets. Betting on us, so it’s our job, especially us younger guys like myself and (Jovic), to step up into these roles and take that challenge. I think we’re both ready for it.”
  • Jaquez, who is on the Heat’s Summer League roster in Las Vegas, added that he’s going to work on improving his “leadership skills” this month.

Groups Revealed For 2024 NBA Cup

The NBA has announced the five-team groups for this year’s in-season tournament, now renamed the Emirates NBA Cup, the league announced in a release on Friday (Twitter link).

Like last year, there are six groups — three each from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference — and each conference was split into five groups based on last year’s standings. One team was selected at random from each group to determine the group round matchups.

The results are:

  • West Group A: Timberwolves, Clippers, Kings, Rockets and Trail Blazers
  • West Group B: Thunder, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Spurs
  • West Group C: Nuggets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Warriors and Grizzlies
  • East Group A: Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Nets and Hornets
  • East Group B: Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Raptors and Pistons
  • East Group C: Celtics, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and Wizards

The NBA Cup begins with group play, which runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 3. Each team plays one game against each of the four opponents in its group. The NBA released a matchup matrix to help fans follow along (Twitter link).

Just like last season, the winner of each group advances to a knockout round alongside the team with the best record in each conference that didn’t win a group. The semifinals and finals will again be played in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Last year, the Lakers won the inaugural in-season tournament over the Pacers. LeBron James was named the tournament MVP after dropping 24 points in the title game.

The full game and broadcast schedule for group play will be announced next month.

Scotto’s Latest: Jones, Kennard, Martin, Okogie, Knicks, Shamet, Klintman

The Clippers are showing interest in free agent guard Tyus Jones in sign-and-trade scenarios, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports in his latest around-the-league notebook.

While this is just speculation on Scotto’s part, the Clippers could look to use some combination of the expiring contracts of P.J. Tucker and Russell Westbrook or draft compensation and Bones Hyland in sign-and-trade scenarios for the Wizards guard.

Jones, our No. 15-ranked free agent, averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 assists per game last season while shooting 48.9% from the field and 41.4% from beyond the arc.

We have more from Scotto:

  • The leaguewide expectation is that Luke Kennard will return to the Grizzlies after the organization declined his team option before free agency, Scotto writes. Kennard averaged 11.0 PPG on 45.0% shooting from deep last season.
  • As we noted earlier Friday, it’s likely the Sixers look to use newly signed KJ Martin‘s contract as a trade chip when he becomes eligible to be moved on Jan. 15. The Sixers could trade for a player making $14MM if they packaged Martin alongside three minimum-salary players in a trade.
  • The Suns gave Josh Okogie a similar deal to what Martin got and could also look to utilize his salary as a trade chip, Scotto reports. However, unlike Martin, Okogie’s deal can’t be aggregated with other players on Phoenix’s roster due to the team’s position relative to the second tax apron.
  • The Knicks are trying to add both size and shooting to their roster this offseason, Scotto writes. Davis Bertans has previously been mentioned as an option for the Knicks, and they’re also expressing interest in free agent guard Landry Shamet. As reported, New York has shown interest in Walker Kessler but Utah’s asking price remains high. Meanwhile, Precious Achiuwa remains open to a return to New York.
  • Outside of the Knicks, Scotto reports that Shamet has drawn “exploratory interest” from the Bucks, Heat and Timberwolves. A return to the Wizards isn’t out of the question either.
  • The Pistons are attempting to finalize a contract with their No. 37 overall pick Bobi Klintman. Klintman is expected to end up on the 15-man roster on a multiyear contract, according to Scotto. The Pistons were intrigued by his size and shooting ability and are hoping to have him on a standard deal.

Heat Withdraw Two-Way Qualifying Offers To Swider, Williams

The Heat have withdrawn their two-way qualifying offers to Cole Swider and Alondes Williams, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Both players are now unrestricted free agents instead of restricted.

Swider and Williams finished the 2023/24 season on two-way contracts with Miami before they were tendered qualifying offers. Those QOs were for two-way deals covering one year.

However, all three of the Heat’s two-way slots are currently occupied (by Keshad Johnson, Zyon Pullin and Dru Smith), and the team can’t sign another player to a standard contract without going over the second tax apron, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter). Both Swider and Williams are playing for Miami’s summer league squad.

Swider, a 6’9″ forward, and Williams, a 6’4″ guard, went undrafted in 2022 out of Syracuse and Wake Forest, respectively. While neither player made much of an impact for the Heat in ’23/24, combining for a total of just 103 NBA minutes, both excelled playing for Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Williams was named the NBAGL’s Most Improved Player and was runner-up for the MVP award while earning a spot on the All-NBA G League First Team. Swider impressed with his long-distance marksmanship, averaging 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists on .485/.471/.846 shooting in 21 Showcase Cup and regular season contests for the Skyforce (38.3 MPG).

It’s possible that Swider or Williams — or even both — could eventually re-sign with Miami on two-way deals if the team decides to make changes to those roster spots. Two-way contracts don’t count against the salary cap or luxury tax and players can be swapped in and out until late in the regular season.

Both players are 25 years old.

Heat Notes: Butler, Offseason, Johnson, Bryant, Two-Ways

If Jimmy Butler decides to leave the Heat when he becomes a free agent in 2025, he’ll still likely need the team’s help to join a viable contender, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

As Jackson explains, there are currently no playoff contenders who project to have enough cap room to sign Butler outright next summer. There are a few teams who could create enough space in 2025/26 if they make cost-cutting moves, but none fit the bill as of now.

Even a potential sign-and-trade would be tricky, Jackson observes, since an acquiring team would become hard-capped at the first tax apron, limiting further roster-building moves.

There’s no indication that Butler wants to leave Miami in the first place — the opposite has been reported multiple times. And the Heat also aren’t looking to trade Butler, a source tells Jackson.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • In another story for The Miami Herald, Jackson examines what’s next for the Heat this offseason following a relatively quiet first wave of free agency. According to Jackson, the team plans to be patient and opportunistic as it waits for players to become available on the trade market. However, Miami has a fairly limited pool of assets, particularly in terms of future first-round picks, which will make acquiring a star-level talent difficult.
  • Rookie forward Keshad Johnson believes he’s a strong fit with the Heat and he made a strong impression in his third summer league game on Wednesday, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Johnson, who went undrafted before inking a two-way contract with Miami, racked up 21 points (on 8-of-14 shooting), eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks in 30 minutes during the Heat’s four-point victory. “I’m a Heat culture guy,” said Johnson. “Throughout my career, I just want to keep making an emphasis that I’m willing to do everything, that I’m gritty. I just want that to be my identity. I just want to make an example of how much of a Heat culture guy that I am.”
  • Veteran center Thomas Bryant tested unrestricted free agency by declining his player option, but he ultimately re-signed with the Heat on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. He recently discussed his free agency foray, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Me and my agent, we both talked and we thought just for us was just to look out the market and just see what was available,” Bryant said. “For us, it was never about any misfortune or anything like that. I love the Miami Heat, personally. I love the way their culture is, the coaching staff, the guys that they have around each other. It was just about, for myself as the player and everything, individually, of just what else might have been out there, what potentially could have been out there.”
  • Due to their proximity to the second apron, the Heat’s standard roster appears to be set for now, with 14 players under contract. However, as Winderman writes in a separate story, Miami’s three two-way spots could see some movement before the ’24/25 season begins. All three two-way slots are currently occupied, but the team also has two-way qualifying offers out to Cole Swider and Alondes Williams, Winderman notes.
    [Update: The Heat have withdrawn their QOs to Swider and Williams.]

Heat Notes: Rozier, Highsmith, Martin, Roster, Burks

Veteran Heat guard Terry Rozier, who missed the team’s final four regular season games and five playoff contests in the spring due to a neck injury, revealed on Tuesday that he was cleared to resume full basketball activities a couple weeks ago and has been doing on-court workouts, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Rozier said it was difficult not to be able to contribute to the team during its biggest games of the year after arriving in Miami in a midseason trade

“Obviously we all know why I came here, to be a big help for the playoffs and just to try to get this team some life,” Rozier said. “It just sucks that I couldn’t play in the most important part of the season, and I had to watch the guys that I go to war with. So it was tough. … It was just nonstop thinking about me just wishing I was out there with my guys. That’s why I’m glad that I’m cleared and everything else will take care of itself when the time comes.”

Rozier had to wear a neck brace while he recovered from the injury, but he made it clear on Tuesday that he never felt as if his career might be in jeopardy due to the ailment. The 30-year-old also indicated that he fully believes the Heat are capable of improving on last season’s result (46-36; No. 8 seed) even without any significant changes to the roster.

“I think the fans are bored right now, and they want to put as many scenarios as they can for us,” Rozier said. “But at the end of the day, we want to run it back with our same team, and we want to show the fans what we can bring to Miami. Obviously last year was tough on us, all of it as a whole. But we’re looking to get out there and impact, and make an impact all together.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • After officially re-signing with the Heat on Monday, Haywood Highsmith admitted that his first real foray into free agency was an “up-and-down roller coaster,” but said he was “really satisfied” with the two-year, $11MM contract he received from Miami, according to Chiang.
  • Asked about reports that he turned down a four-year, $58MM extension from the Heat prior to free agency, Caleb Martin explained why he passed on Miami’s offer and ultimately settled for a more modest free agent deal from the Sixers. “Just certain things didn’t work. There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that went on, but ultimately, there was a lot in making that decision and there’s a lot that contributed to how everything went, but past is past,” Martin said (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “Can’t do nothing about that and like I said, I’m looking forward to being here and being a part of Philly and try to bring everything I can in order to try to win a championship so that’s my main focus now.” Martin’s offer from the Heat would’ve required him to pick up his $7.1MM player option for 2024/25, so he’ll at least earn a higher first-year salary in Philadelphia than he would’ve if he’d opted in.
  • Examining the Heat’s financial situation, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sentinel lays out why the roster is essentially set for the season unless they make a trade, since signing another free agent currently isn’t a viable option for the team.
  • Veteran guard Alec Burks will be earning a minimum salary for just the second time in his NBA career in 2024/25, but he feels good about ending up in Miami, as Winderman writes for The Sun Sentinel. “The Heat Culture from afar, then I talked to (head coach Erik Spoelstra), made my decision,” Burks said when asked about choosing to sign with the Heat. “We had a great conversation. I think that’s the real reason I picked the team.”

L.A. Notes: Davis, Lakers, DeRozan, Batum, Clippers, Christie

After LeBron James downplayed any concerns over what has been a quiet offseason so far for the Lakers, his star teammate Anthony Davis followed suit from Team USA’s training camp in Las Vegas, as Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times relays. Davis pointed out that injuries to presumptive rotation players like Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent had an impact on last year’s team and that having better health luck in 2024/25 could make a difference.

“We don’t know what we could have been if we had those guys, especially in the playoffs,” Davis said. “You know especially Vando because he’s a big part of what we do defensively. But, so we look at the lineup, and you know we come in ready to work.

“And last year is last year. We can’t say, ‘Oh this is the same team.’ It could be a different result. For us it’s about coming in with the mindset of getting to work and seeing how it plays out.”

Of the 15 players who finished last season on the Lakers’ roster, 13 remain under contract for the coming season. The only two newcomers to this point are the team’s two draft picks, Dalton Knecht and Bronny James.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • Although DeMar DeRozan was said to be on the short list of “impact” Lakers targets that LeBron James would have been willing to take a significant discount for, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium stated during an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link) that it came down to the Kings and Heat for DeRozan. “I’m told the Lakers never went beyond expressing just simple interest in DeRozan,” Charania said. “There were no offers or tangible conversations with the Bulls on a sign-and-trade deal.”
  • Speaking to reporters after he agreed to re-sign with the Clippers, veteran forward Nicolas Batum indicated that he chose to reunite with his former team and former head coach (Tyronn Lue) after receiving interest from over half the league. “I had several options, a lot of options, I actually had 17,” Batum said (French link via BasketUSA.com).
  • The Clippers, who had the NBA’s oldest roster last season, haven’t exactly been a player development hub in recent years, according to Law Murray of The Athletic, who takes a look at how the team could change that going forward, starting with this year’s second-round pick Cam Christie.

Heat Re-Sign Haywood Highsmith

5:25pm: The signing is official, the team tweets.

12:10pm: The Heat have agreed to re-sign free agent forward Haywood Highsmith, agent Jerry Dianis tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Highsmith will receive a two-year, $11MM deal to remain in Miami, per Wojnarowski. The full amount is guaranteed, with no team or player option on the second year, Woj adds (Twitter link).

“We’ve been consistent with Miami with how Haywood felt,” Dianis told Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). “And we felt he wanted to be in Miami. This deal memorializes that.”

Highsmith, who is 6’7″ with a seven-foot wingspan, earned a rotation role in Miami over the last two seasons due primarily due to his defense. However, he has gradually developed into more of a threat on the offensive end, having set new career highs in points per game (6.1), field-goal percentage (46.5%), and three-point percentage (39.6%) while averaging 20.7 minutes per contest across 66 games (26 starts) in 2023/24.

The No. 36 free agent on our top-50 list, Highsmith reportedly drew interest from rival suitors during free agency. According to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), the Bucks and Suns – both of whom were limited to minimum-salary offers – were among the teams pursuing the 27-year-old, with Damian Lillard joining Milwaukee’s recruiting efforts.

However, Highsmith had spoken multiple times in the spring about his desire to remain in Miami. The Heat were limited in their ability to offer much more than the two-year, $11MM contract they put on the table due to their proximity to the second tax apron — and their desire to remain below that apron.

According to cap expert Yossi Gozlan (Twitter link), the club projects to have about $1.5MM in breathing room below the second apron, with 14 players on guaranteed contracts. That suggests, barring additional roster moves, that the 15th roster spot may remain open entering the season.

Heat Notes: Love, Ware, Highsmith, Offseason

Kevin Love declined his $4MM player option for next season, but staying in Miami was always his first choice, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The veteran big man not only remained with the Heat, he was able to get the deal he wanted — $3.85MM for the upcoming season and $4.15MM for 2025/26 — signing shortly after free agency began on June 30.

“In every free agency, there’s always a chance to look around the league and see opportunity,” Love said. “But in my mind, in terms of how the team operates, who [coach Erik Spoelstra] is, who [team president Pat Riley] is, who [general manager Andy Elisburg] is, it really in the last year and a half has felt like home. It felt like we were always optimistic that we would be able to get this done, get an extra year and just be able to provide as much as I possibly can for the team. I’m very, very happy to be back.”

Love has become a fixture in Miami since joining the organization late in the 2022/23 season. He was inserted into the starting lineup and sparked the team’s surprising run to the NBA Finals, then moved into a reserve role last season, coming off the bench for 50 of the 55 games he played. Love, who turns 36 in September, believes he can remain productive and envisions spending more time at power forward alongside Bam Adebayo.

“Being able to play high-low or being able to space the floor while a traditional five operates in the paint is something that I can add high value to,” Love said. “So I think it’s something that’s there. I’m sure it’s something that we’ll toy with and see in training camp. But I think it could be something that could happen this year.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • First-round pick Kel’el Ware put on a dominant performance Sunday in his second Summer League game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and a block, Chiang adds in a separate story. The 20-year-old center said he had to “get the jitters out” after his first contest, and he focused more on controlling the lane area than shooting three-pointers. “Right now, my shot is feeling a little short,” Ware said. “So I wanted to get to the basket more and just be more of a target in my presence, be more in the paint today. I felt like I did that a little bit.”
  • Several teams remain interested in Heat free agent Haywood Highsmith, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Although he doesn’t identify any of them, Scotto says that Highsmith is getting “recruitment pitches from Hall of Fame players and championship coaches.” Miami, which is $6.8MM away from the second apron, remains in talks with the 27-year-old forward, Scotto adds.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald examines some of the criticism being leveled at Heat management in the midst of a disappointing offseason to determine what’s legitimate and what isn’t.