Miami Heat

Heat Apply For Disabled Player Exception

The Heat have applied for a disabled player exception to gain extra cap flexibility in the wake of Dion Waiters‘ ankle injury, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Today was the last day for teams to apply for disabled player exceptions for the 2017/18 season.

As we explain in our glossary entry on the subject, a disabled player exception gives a team some additional spending flexibility in the event that an NBA-designated physician determines an injured player is “substantially more likely than not” to be sidelined through at least June 15 of that league year. Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his ankle, so if the league agrees with the Heat’s medical assessment, the team will receive a DPE.

The amount of that disabled player exception is either half of the injured player’s salary or the amount of the mid-level exception, whichever is smaller. In the Heat’s case, the DPE would be worth $5.5MM, half of Waiters’ $11MM salary. If the Heat are granted that exception, it wouldn’t give them an extra roster spot, and the league wouldn’t reimburse the team at all if it uses the exception. Nonetheless, a DPE can be a useful tool for clubs that have already used their cap room and/or mid-level exceptions.

Assuming they receive a disabled player exception, the Heat could use it to sign a free agent to a one-year deal, or to trade for (or claim) a player with one year left on his contract. It can only be used once, so if the club uses it to sign a player to a $2.5MM deal, the remaining $3MM wouldn’t be available.

The Heat would have to use the exception by March 12, the first business day after the typical March 10 deadline. So if Miami doesn’t use the DPE to acquire a player at the trade deadline, it could still come in handy on the buyout market.

The Celtics also hold a disabled player exception worth about $8.4MM, while the Nets are expected to be granted one that would be worth $6MM.

Last Day For Teams To Sign Two-Way Deals, Apply For DPEs

January 15 is an important date on the NBA calendar. As we outlined earlier this morning, it’s the day that several of the players who signed free agent deals in 2017 become trade-eligible for the first time on those new deals. In addition to being the first day that those players can be traded, January 15 is also the last day for teams to complete certain roster moves. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Last day for teams to sign players to two-way contracts:

If you were following Hoops Rumors over the weekend, you likely noticed a flurry of roster moves involving two-way contracts. That’s because January 15 represents the deadline for teams to sign players to two-way deals. If a club doesn’t finalize a two-way signing today, it can’t do so for the remainder of the 2017/18 league year.

A handful of two-way signings reported over the weekend – including the Lakersdeal with Gary Payton II and a pair of Pistons agreements – will need to be made official today. Additionally, the Bucks, Timberwolves, and Wizards each still have an open two-way slot, as our tracker shows, so if they don’t want to leave that second slot empty all season, they’ll need to fill it today.

Salaries for all two-way players will become fully guaranteed for 2017/18 on January 20.

Last day for teams to apply for a disabled player exception:

As our glossary entry on the disabled player exception explains, the DPE is a tool that can be granted to teams by the NBA. It gives a club a one-time cap exception that can be used to replace a player who suffered a season-ending injury.

The Celtics applied for and received a disabled player exception back in the fall after Gordon Hayward went down, but the Nets didn’t file for a DPE after Jeremy Lin‘s season-ending injury that same week. They’re expected to do so by today’s deadline, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The Heat are also worth watching, since they’ll be eligible for a DPE if Dion Waiters is ruled out for the season, as is expected.

Community Shootaround: Hassan Whiteside

There is an element of uncertainty to Hassan Whiteside‘s role with the Heat. One can glean at least some semblance of understanding into how Erik Spoelstra views the big man through a series of post-game quotes from earlier this afternoon, Dave Hyde of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Spoelstra was quick to praise Whiteside after a spirited third quarter on Sunday afternoon but didn’t ultimately play him down the stretch, citing the play of the team’s second unit.

He made a big-time effort on both ends of the court. Even those offensive tips where we didn’t score, he was burning calories and expending a lot of energy. Those extra, multiple efforts are inspiring. I really believe those inspire the players coming in the game,” Spoelstra said. “[…] The next challenge is to be consistent. I love what he did in the third quarter.

It’s unclear what will come of Whiteside’s time with the Heat. While he’s averaged a solid 13.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game, he seems to have resigned to the fact that he may not enter games in fourth quarters.

When those guys are playing great, I don’t come in,” he said. “Those guys were playing great.”

The Heat currently sit 25-17, fourth in the Eastern Conference. That’s a dangerous spot for a team with a coach known for bringing out the most in his players.

While 28-year-old Whiteside would qualify by most accounts as the team’s top talent, they’ve played .500 basketball without him and could presumably net a piece or two to help them down the stretch if they were willing to move him.

Given that Whiteside’s current role with the squad is so unconventional, would the franchise be better off to gauge the trade market for the big man?

Weigh in on what you think the Heat will end up doing with their center below.

 

Waiters' Incentive Wouldn't Have Affected Luxury Tax

  • The Heat weren’t concerned about the $1.1MM bonus that Dion Waiters might have collected if he had remained healthy, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Waiters needed to play 70 games to receive the incentive, which won’t happen now that he is expected to have season-ending surgery on his left ankle. Miami put the bonus in his contract as a way to allow him to obtain his desired salary while leaving enough cap space to re-sign Wayne Ellington, Winderman explains, adding that the extra $1.1MM wouldn’t have pushed the team into the luxury tax.

Josh Richardson A 'Revelation'; Ways To Replace Dion Waiters

The Heat have watched Josh Richardson develop into a go-to perimeter player, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel says in a video published at the newspaper’s website. Richardson’s numbers are up across the board and his presence has helped the team weather the Dion Waiters injury.

Richardson has averaged 12.6 points and 3.2 rebounds per game for the Heat this season, up to 17.4 points and 3.7 rebounds per in 15 December contests.

Not only has the swingman been a revelation for the positionless Heat, he’s shown an ability to hang with large NBA small forwards despite weighing just 200 pounds and playing through college as a 6’6″ point guard.

Season-Ending Surgery Expected For Dion Waiters

January 11, 5:01pm: After having received a second opinion in Los Angeles, Waiters is expected to undergo season-ending surgery on his left ankle, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets.

January 10, 4:10pm: Heat guard Dion Waiters has been nagged for much of the season by a left ankle injury, an issue that has kept him out of action since December 22. While the club has moved forward with a non-surgical rehab program so far, Waiters recently sought out a second opinion, and a season-ending surgical procedure is one of the options he’s considering, an associate tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). No decisions have been made yet, however.

Waiters’ camp and the Heat figure to work in tandem to figure out the best approach for the 26-year-old, who has received multiple medical opinions, per Jackson. Waiters had suggested last month that offseason surgery may also be an option if he can make it through the 2017/18 campaign without having to go under the knife.

The injury has likely contributed to Waiters’ dip in production so far this season. After posting a .424 FG% and .395 3PT% in 2016/17, the former fourth overall pick has seen those shooting rates decline to .398 and .306 this year.

Waiters, who inked a new contract with the Heat back in July, is under contract through the 2020/21 season at a rate of nearly $12MM annually, so the club will be motivated to find the best long-term solution, rather than trying to rush him back onto the court. Still, ESPN’s Zach Lowe indicated in his latest piece that Waiters’ injury situation has created some tension in Miami. The two sides hope to have some clarity on the issue this week or next week, per Lowe.

No matter how the Heat and Waiters choose to address his ankle injury, the veteran guard appears extremely unlikely to cash in on his $1.1MM games-played bonus for this season. Waiters would have to appear in 70 games to receive that money, and he has already missed 10 of 40 contests.

Potential Return In Whiteside Trade May Be Limited

If the Heat decide to deal Hassan Whiteside, they may find his trade value is lower than expected, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami hasn’t expressed a desire to move Whiteside, but Jackson believes it could happen if rookie Bam Adebayo and free agent addition Kelly Olynyk continue to provide quality minutes at the center spot.

  • The Heat will face a decision soon on Derrick Jones, who has about 14 NBA days left on his two-way contract, Jackson adds in the same story. The Heat signed Jones at the end of December, and his allowable NBA service time was pro-rated. He has appeared in three games since then, averaging 5.0 points in nearly 17 minutes per night. Miami could open a roster spot by cutting A.J. Hammons, who has remained in the G League since being acquired from Dallas in an offseason trade.

Serge Ibaka, James Johnson Receive One-Game Suspensions

Raptors big man Serge Ibaka and Heat forward James Johnson have each been hit with one-game suspensions for their roles in an altercation that took place in Tuesday night’s game in Toronto, the NBA announced today. The two veterans exchanged punches midway through the third quarter.

DeMar DeRozan and Goran Dragic were also penalized for getting into it during Tuesday’s game, but they avoided suspensions. DeRozan was fined $25K, while Dragic received a $10K fine.

The Raptors will now be without Ibaka for Thursday night’s showdown with the Cavaliers, a game that Kyle Lowry is also expected to miss due to a bruised tailbone. While Toronto will be short-handed for that game, the team will gain a little more breathing room below the tax threshold with Ibaka losing a game’s worth of salary, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks details in a tweet.

As for Johnson, he’ll miss the Heat’s Wednesday game in Indiana.

Heat Rumors: Winslow, Whiteside, Dragic, Ellington

Although the Heat lack a superstar player, there’s optimism within the organization that the team is capable of winning upwards of 50 games and a playoff round or two. Still, the Heat are aware that they face “major questions” about their ceiling, Zach Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN.com. As such, Miami is a team that figures to be active as the trade deadline approaches.

According to Lowe, the Heat – who may be in the tax next season – are projecting optimism that they could trade the lucrative new long-term contracts handed out to the likes of Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk if they need to. However, rival executives are skeptical that all those deals would be easily movable.

Here’s more from Lowe on the Heat’s outlook and trade possibilities:

  • Justise Winslow has been surpassed by Josh Richardson as the Heat’s small forward of the future, while Johnson has emerged as Miami’s top small-ball power forward, according to Lowe, who suggests that Winslow is a potential trade chip for the Heat. Lowe adds that multiple rival execs are calling Winslow the Heat’s version of Jahlil Okafor, though he thinks that’s “a little much.”
  • The Heat’s best and most realistic trade package if they look to make a big splash would likely be Winslow and Hassan Whiteside, says Lowe. Neither player has been a major part of Miami’s best crunch-time lineup as of late, so the club could dangle that duo in search of a star center.
  • The Heat have shown no interest in trading Goran Dragic, per Lowe’s league sources.
  • Waiters’ ankle injury has created some tension in Miami, with Waiters seeking a second opinion after the team put him on a non-surgical rehab program. The two sides hope to get clarity on Waiters’ recovery this week or next, according to Lowe, who notes that the veteran guard “almost feels redundant” on a Heat roster that features several ball-handlers.
  • Long-term luxury tax concerns for the Heat may cost them Wayne Ellington. The veteran sharpshooter is in line for a raise when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July and Miami likely won’t be able to afford him, prompting Lowe to wonder if the club would consider trading him rather than losing him for nothing.

Pistons Notes: Van Gundy, Jackson, Leuer, Moreland

Pistons coach/executive Stan Van Gundy addressed trade rumors surrounding his team during a session with reporters today. Detroit is among several teams linked to Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic as the Pistons try to remain in the playoff race with a roster weakened by injuries.

“We have a roster spot available and there’s people calling,” Van Gundy said in comments tweeted by Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “We’re just seeing if there’s anything that makes sense for us. When you’re down a starting point guard, there’s not a lot of people shopping their starting point guard to you.” (Twitter link).

Reggie Jackson is out until at least the All-Star break with a sprained right ankle. Forward Jon Leuer hasn’t played since October 31 because of a sprained left ankle and may be headed for surgery. After a fast start, the Pistons have fallen into a sixth-place tie in the East at 21-18 and are barely holding on to a playoff spot.

“We’ve got [Leuer] down and [Jackson] down,” Van Gundy added. “There’s a lot of need and we’re looking around. We don’t have anything going on right now, but we’re looking around for people to fill holes.”

There’s more today out of Detroit:

  • The Pistons have plenty of options to target before the February 8 deadline, writes Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. He lists Orlando’s Evan Fournier, Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, Miami’s Wayne Ellington, Dallas’ Wesley Matthews and Atlanta’s Kent Bazemore as players to watch.
  • Pistons center Eric Moreland has a bit of security for the first time in his career, notes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Moreland had his $1,739,333 contract guaranteed this week, providing him with some stability after four years of trying to earn a steady NBA job. Moreland went undrafted out of Oregon State in 2014 and signed with the Kings, but played just 11 games at the NBA level in two seasons. He signed a partially guaranteed three-year deal with the Pistons over the offseason, but says he hasn’t been focused on this week’s guarantee deadline. “I play the same way, money or no money,” he said. “I don’t even play basketball for money. I just want to go out there and keep learning. This is my first year playing. I can’t get involved in that. That’s just not my mentality. I’m not trying to survive like that.”
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