- The Heat would have had serious interest in Bradley Beal if the Wizards had made him available in trade talks or if he had reached free agency in 2021. Instead, Beal re-upped with Washington, signing a two-year extension earlier this year. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald caught up with Beal to ask the Wizards’ star whether he considered the possibility of a move to the Heat before inking that new deal. Beal’s answer? “Yes and no.” Jackson has the full story and quotes.
- The Heat are in a comfort zone and likely won’t be going anywhere in terms of where they stand in the Eastern Conference, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami will have a 17-6 record entering Tuesday’s game against Atlanta, where they’ll look to extend their home record to 11-0. The team is in the midst of a four-game homestand, which is followed by a three-game road trip that begins on December 14 and another four-game homestand that starts on December 20. “We certainly have been on the road often,” Meyers Leonard said. “Simple things such as sleeping in your own bed and being in your own bed and being in your home arena, being in your own locker room, those kinds of things matter.” To date, 13 of the team’s 23 games have come on the road.
- Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe examines the journey of Heat forward Duncan Robinson, who started in New Hampshire and has continued his path to become an NBA starter with Miami. Robinson has started in 18 of 23 games with Miami this season, scoring 11 points per contest on 43% shooting from downtown.
In an excellent piece, SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell takes a look at Heat superstar Jimmy Butler‘s sterling start for his new squad. O’Donnell contends that Butler has been everything the Heat wanted him to be when they inked him to a four-year, $141MM maximum contract in a sign-and-trade with the Sixers this summer.
Butler has been the rising tide to lift all ships on the Heat’s lengthy, defensive-oriented roster. As of this writing, Miami has leapt from No. 26 last year to No. 11 in offensive rating. The Heat are rated No. 8 on defense. Their 16-6 record is good for the third seed in the East, and they remain perfect (9-0) at home.
The 6’8″ wing has been stuffing stat sheets in every traditional and advanced category. Butler is averaging 20.5 PPG, plus career highs in rebounds (6.3 RPG) and assists (6.8 APG). In a 112-103 win over the Wizards last night, Butler recorded his second triple-double over the past three games. He scored 28 points (on 9-of-16 shooting from the field), pulled down 11 boards, and dished 11 dimes.
Following his Friday output, Butler currently ranks No. 5 in Player Impact Plus-Minus and No. 5 in FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR (“Robust Algorithm (using) Player Tracking (and) On/Off Ratings”) metric. He also sits at No. 6 in box score plus-minus, No. 5 in win shares per 48 minutes, and No. 7 in Value Over Replacement Player. Butler’s impact on the team can be felt on both ends of the court.
There’s more news out of South Beach:
- David Furones of the South Florida Sentinel reports that Butler might be giving at least one player an additional financial incentive to expand the breadth of his offense. After scoring a career-high 24 points in a win against the Wizards (in addition to blocking two shots and pulling down 14 rebounds), Bam Adebayo apparently owes Butler $500. Why? Because he didn’t shoot a triple during the game. Apparently, Adebayo owes Butler money for every contest in which he does not attempt a three, a fact that Adebayo only discovered “literally before the game,” according to the Heat center. Though this new arrangement appears to be all in good fun, Adebayo might want to keep his checkbook handy: he has only attempted six threes in 22 games this season.
- After going undrafted in 2018 out of Oakland University, Kendrick Nunn has earned some early Rookie of the Year buzz this season. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson details how the Heat’s vice president of basketball operations Adam Simon and general manager Andy Elisburg landed Nunn. As a backup guard for the Warriors’ G League affiliate last season, Nunn averaged 19.3 points. Miami inked Nunn on the final day of the 2o18/19 regular season, which equipped Nunn with full Bird rights for the moment his $3.1MM two-year-plus-one-day contract expires in 2021.
- Nunn, his fellow Heat rookie Tyler Herro (the No. 13 pick in the 2019 draft), and the team’s other new veteran additions haven’t just been impressing fans and NBA writers with their play this season. They’ve been impressing their longer-tenured teammates, too. The Athletic’s Andre Fernandez and Manny Navarro spoke with 17-year Heat vet Udonis Haslem about his new teammates’ obsessive ambition. “We have a lot of guys that have a chip on their shoulder, something to prove, so naturally it’s in a lot of these guys’ DNA,” Haslem said.
Both Dion Waiters and James Johnson remained on the bench throughout the Heat’s 19-point loss at Boston last night, leading Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel to wonder about their futures with the organization. Waiters, who recently returned from his second suspension, hasn’t gotten on the court at all this season. Johnson, who failed to meet conditioning standards at the start of training camp, has appeared in just six games.
Winderman believes management is drawing a “hard line” about conditioning, comportment and sacrifice, which may mean a lot of bench time for Waiters and Johnson going forward. Both players have contracts that won’t be easy to trade, as Waiters is signed for $12.65MM next season, while Johnson has a $16MM player option.
There’s more this morning from Miami:
- Heat officials were unanimous in their selection of Tyler Herro with the 13th pick in this year’s draft, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Herro is off to an excellent start, averaging 13.6 points per game and shooting 39% from 3-point range. Miami viewed him as an elite shooter who could also contribute to the offense in other ways, and he received a glowing recommendation from his college coach, John Calipari, who said Herro has the gym rat qualities that the Heat look for. “Plus we needed shooting,” an unidentified Heat official said. “It was not a hard decision; he was our guy. We felt he had not only the stroke, but a lot of intangibles that were really unique.”
- After Duncan Robinson went undrafted in 2018, the Heat were his first choice because coach Erik Spoelstra contacted him the night before the draft, Jackson adds in the same story. “The fact he reached out meant a lot to me,” Robinson said. “He told me about their culture and what they’re all about and how much they prioritize shooting, and guys that come here that are shooters tend to have their best years. He mentioned Wayne Ellington and some other guys. It just excited me. I was pretty adamant I wanted to be part of this place, at least do summer league with them and see where the chips fell.” Robinson said he had a “handful” of offers, and he chose Miami over the Lakers and Bucks.
- Kelly Olynyk has been loyal to Team Canada for years, but an upcoming contract decision could affect his availability for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in late June, notes Steven Loung of Sportsnet. Olynyk can opt out of his $12.2MM deal for next year and might be without a contract when the tournament begins. He would be risking an injury that could have a significant impact on his future earnings.
Kyrie Irving will miss at least two more games for the Nets as he recovers from a shoulder injury, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com reports. Head coach Kenny Atkinson isn’t concerned about Irving’s slow recovery and his lack of travel with the team.
“I think I used to get frustrated more,” Atkinson said of Irving’s slow recovery. “I’ve had my moments of frustration because I want him back so bad. But you hear our performance staff and then you talk to Kyrie and then you get your mind to a place where that’s the smartest thing to do.”
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Head coach Erik Spoelstra said Dion Waiters will “probably” be active tonight for the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Waiters hasn’t played for Miami since he was suspended for eating an edible — or at all this season.
- The Pistons‘ medical team evaluated Reggie Jackson‘s back today and the results showed positive signs of progress, as the team announces on Twitter. The point guard’s rehab from a stress reaction will continue and he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks.
- Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel wonders if Justise Winslow is more valuable to the Heat as a trade chip than a contributor. Winderman makes a case for the team to trade the former top-10 pick and gain additional help.
Goran Dragic appeared to be on his way to the Mavericks this summer as part of the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. However, within hours of the news being reported, the deal was off and the Heat were forced to find other deals that would allow them to bring back Butler’s salary. In the end, Dragic remained in town while Hassan Whiteside was shipped to Portland and the franchise is thrilled that the Mavericks had a change of heart.
“We’re all glad that deal didn’t happen,” a Heat official tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
The sense of relief came not only because the team was able to keep Dragic but also because the new terms of the Butler sign-and-trade allowed the franchise to move Whiteside, a player the coaching staff didn’t want, per Jackson.
Miami was able to go from middling team in the Eastern Conference to a legit contender for homecourt advantage in round one due to the club’s ability to make shrewd moves this past offseason. Still, good fortune, like the Mavericks declining the Dragic deal, also helped.
Criticism can be hard to give and harder to accept but it’s something that teams in the NBA need to be comfortable with in order to improve. Wizards players are still figuring out one another and being constructive with criticism is something that the team has discussed within the locker room, as David Aldridge of The Athletic relay.
“You do it strategically,” said Ish Smith, who was part of the rebuild in Philadelphia. “Everybody ain’t rah-rah. You’ve got to be able to talk to them. And you’ve got to read people’s body language. How people walk, how do people talk, how they’re feeling, if they’re down if they’re up. Those are the things you’ve got to be able to do. You’ve got to communicate, not just by yelling and screaming. You’ve got to be able to pull guys to the side. And that all grows with relationships and just building throughout the season.”
Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Magic have listed Michael Carter-Williams as doubtful for Tuesday’s contest vs. the Wizards, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. The designation is technically an upgrade on out, which is what MCW has been for the last six contests, so the point guard may be nearing a return.
- Jimmy Butler is proving to be the ultimate teammate, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes. Butler is simply trying to win games and he’s not making it about personal glory or any statistics during his first year with the Heat.
- In the same piece, Winderman explains why Justise Winslow has been playing in crunch time for the Heat over Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. Winslow remaining on the floor has to do with his defense and coach Erik Spoelstra valued that late in games recently.
December 1 is a relatively minor day on the NBA calendar, but it will change the way waiver claims are processed for the rest of the season. Starting today, the waiver claim order will be determined by the current NBA standings, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Up until now, the order had been set by where teams finished last season.
The change is especially significant for the Warriors, who are now first in line after previously being 28th. Devastated by injuries and free agent losses, Golden State is off to a 4-16 start, which is the worst record in the league. However, their ability to make any move is restricted by a hard cap that was imposed with the sign-and-trade that brought D’Angelo Russell to the Bay Area.
Next in line are the Hawks (4-16), Knicks (4-15), Cavaliers (5-14) and Grizzlies (5-13). You can follow changes to the order all season long on our Reverse Standings.
Nine waiver claims have been made since the league’s new year began in July. These moves typically involve fringe players, and a couple of them are no longer on the roster of the teams that claimed them. Tyrone Wallace has been claimed twice — by the Timberwolves in July after the Clippers waived him and by the Hawks in October after he was cut by Minnesota.
Today also marks an important guarantee date for two players, Marks adds. Heat rookie Kendrick Nunn will see his guarantee increase from $300K to $450K once the deadline passes at 5pm Eastern Time (Twitter link). Nunn signed a three-year, $5MM contract at the end of last season, including a $1.4MM salary for this year that will become fully guaranteed along with all league salaries on January 7. Nunn is a surprise Rookie of the Year candidate, starting all 18 games and averaging 16.4 PPG.
Bucks forward Dragan Bender will see his guarantee rise from $600K to $800K if he stays on the roster past the 5pm deadline (Twitter link). He has a two-year, $3.5MM deal with partial guarantees, but has only gotten into two games so far. He will receive $1.68MM if he remains with the team through January 7.
Dion Waiters appears to have returned to the Heat in good standing after serving a 10-game suspension, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Waiters becomes eligible again in this afternoon’s game with the Nets, but coach Erik Spoelstra wouldn’t say when he expects to start using him again. Waiters hasn’t played yet this season, and Miami is off to a 13-5 start with plenty of depth at the wing spots.
Waiters has been suspended twice already this season, once for a preseason argument with Spoelstra over playing time and once for an incident on a team flight that reportedly involved a THC-infused gummy. Still, he seems to have the support of his teammates, many of whom spoke out to welcome him back.
“We talk about the next step, what’s coming now, how we can build from that point on,” said Udonis Haslem, who contacted Waiters several times while he was away from the team. “Those are the conversations that I have with him, and I express my support for him. It’s not a time to turn your back and have a beat-down session. It’s time to be there for your brother.”
There’s more from Miami:
- The Heat may get another reinforcement with the return of Derrick Jones Jr., Jackson adds in the same story. Jones, who hasn’t played since Nov. 7 because of a strained hip, is listed as probable for today’s game.
- The offseason trade that sent Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers is working out for both teams, observes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Whiteside has given Portland a much-needed rim protector amid injuries to other centers and blocked 10 shots Friday night. He didn’t have a future in Miami because Heat management preferred Bam Adebayo and probably wouldn’t have re-signed Whiteside after his contract expires this summer. They also needed to clear cap room to complete the deal for Jimmy Butler.
- Justise Winslow may eventually reclaim his starting role, but he has been effective in two games off the bench since returning from a concussion, Winderman notes in a separate story. It has helped that Winslow is joined on the second unit by two former starters in Goran Dragic and Kelly Olynyk. “He and Goran and KO, they already have a great chemistry, among the three of them,” Spoelstra said. “So that, those minutes with those guys, it’s almost like a bike, again. And I think that helps him find his rhythm, and he’ll continue to get better as we get more games.”