- Goran Dragic may be out for an extended period due to a right knee issue, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. The Heat are still without Dion Waiters and could use Dragic’s scoring and playmaking abilities as they look to climb out of a slow start.
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hits on several Heat-related topics, including the conditioning of James Johnson and Waiters and the lack of interest from the team as it relates to adding Carmelo Anthony to the rotation.
Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southeast Division:
Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks, 29, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $14.1MM deal in 2017
Dedmon’s journeyman career had been on an upward path the past couple of seasons but appears to have plateaued under new coach Lloyd Pierce. Dedmon was coming off the bench before missing a few games for personal reasons after starting 46 games last season under Mike Budenholzer. His playing time has taken a hit from 24.9 MPG to 19.7. Dedmon is making $7.2MM but will likely have to settle for a veteran’s minimum deal or something close to it in unrestricted free agency next summer.
Wayne Ellington, Heat, 30, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $6.27MM deal in 2018
The Heat have an overload of options at the wing positions but Ellington’s shooting has made him a steady rotation presence since recovering from an ankle injury. Over the past five games, Ellington is shooting 44.7% on his 3-point attempts. That’s the main reason coach Erik Spoestra has played him an average of 28.6 MPG over that span. Ellington settled for a one-year contract in free agency this summer and his outside shooting should lead to multi-year offers in July.
Jeremy Lamb, Hornets, 26, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $21MM deal in 2016
Lamb averaged double digits in scoring for the first time in his career last season and he’s established himself as a starter this season. Lamb is averaging 12.9 PPG as Kemba Walker‘s backcourt partner while shooting a career-best 39.2% from long range. He’s also been a factor on defense (career high 1.4 SPG). Lamb is making $7.49MM and his shooting and defensive length will grant him a healthy raise when he hits the open market in July.
Terrence Ross, Magic, 27, SG/SF (Up) — Signed to a three-year, $31.5MM deal in 2016
Ross appeared in only 24 games last season due to a knee injury. He started most of the games he was able to play for Orlando after being dealt by the Raptors in February 2017 but new coach Steve Clifford has made him a second-unit contributor. Thus far, Ross has thrived in that role, averaging 13.9 PPG while making a career-high 39.3% of his threes. That kind of production will give him consideration for the Sixth Man award if he keeps it up. It would also lead to multi-year offers next summer for Ross, who is making $10.5MM.
Kelly Oubre, Wizards, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $9.2MM deal in 2015
The Wizards have finally shown some signs of life, winning their last three games, but Oubre has been heading in the opposite direction. He’s scored in single digits in five of the last six games. He’s also been in a prolonged shooting slump, making 14% of his 3-point tries over the last nine games. The capped-out Wizards must extend a $4,485,665 qualifying offer to Oubre next June to make him a restricted free agent. If he has a down year, the Wizards’ decision will become even tougher.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
While there has been some speculation that the Heat could be a landing spot for Carmelo Anthony once the Rockets officially waive or trade him, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes that the Heat’s offseason meeting with Anthony’s reps was initiated by Carmelo’s camp rather than Miami’s.
According to Jackson, there are some Heat basketball people who don’t think Anthony would be a particularly good fit, particularly with the club’s rotation already pretty crowded. Miami has also been trying to get its defense on track, and adding Carmelo to the mix likely wouldn’t help on that front.
The Rockets announced on Thursday that they’ve parted ways with Anthony, but have yet to make an official roster move with him. As I detailed this morning, there are plenty of reasons for Houston to wait to finalize anything, so the Heat should have some time to decide if they want to get involved.
Here’s more out of Miami:
- Dion Waiters‘ return to the court for the Heat still isn’t considered imminent, according to Jackson, who hears that conditioning remains an issue for the veteran guard even once he’s fully recovered from ankle surgery.
- Jackson also circles back to the Heat’s involvement in the Jimmy Butler talks, confirming that the best offer the team made last month was Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, and a protected first-round pick. According to Jackson, after the Timberwolves passed on that offer, the Heat didn’t exactly pull Richardson off the table — they simply never returned to the table.
- In case you missed it, we relayed a few more Heat-related notes on Wednesday.
- Heat guard Tyler Johnson labeled the importance of the team staying hungry for success, despite several players cashing in on new contracts in recent seasons. “I think what’s crazy is before any of us got any money, we were just some dogs,” Johnson said, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “I think that’s what the beautiful thing is. We had to just come together.”
Monday’s loss to Philadelphia was the Heat‘s third straight defeat on their home court, dropping the team’s overall record to 5-8. In the wake of that game, Ethan J. Skolnick of HeatBeatMiami.com spoke to one Heat official who admitted, “We need a trade. Badly.”
However, as Skolnick points out, there’s not really a great trade out there for Miami, especially that Jimmy Butler is now a member of the Sixers. And without a deal that shake things up, it looks like the Heat may be stuck in Eastern Conference purgatory, likely to finish between sixth and ninth in the standings.
As the Heat weigh how to turn things around after a slow start and how to add a difference-making player, let’s round up a few more notes out of Miami…
- Dwyane Wade remains away from the team as he spends time with his wife and their newborn daughter, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The veteran guard will miss the team’s upcoming games vs. Brooklyn, Indiana, and the Lakers and then will make a decision from there, says Reynolds. “We’re totally fine with it,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said.
- Now that Dion Waiters has missed Miami’s first 13 games, he has officially lost out on the $1.2MM bonus he would’ve earned if he had played in 70 contests this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That bonus was considered an unlikely incentive since Waiters didn’t play 70 games last year either, so his cap hit will remain unchanged.
- With Carmelo Anthony‘s future in Houston up in the air, rumors have been swirling about the possibility of Carmelo landing in South Beach. Anthony’s reps discussed a possible deal with the Heat in the summer, and league executives who spoke to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News believes there could still be a fit there. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears also cited the Heat as a potential suitor for Anthony during an appearance on The Jump (hat tip to Anthony Irwin of Silver Screen & Roll). Dave Hyde of The Sun Sentinel isn’t on board with the idea.
- Jeremy Woo of SI.com lays out the case for why trading John Wall might be in the Wizards’ best long-term interests, pointing to teams like the Heat and Suns as potential trade partners. Woo is the second national reporter to make this argument this month, and his points are similar to ones ESPN’s Zach Lowe made last week — Bradley Beal is too valuable to move him, and Otto Porter wouldn’t bring back much in return.
A report over the weekend indicated that the Timberwolves had three trade offers on the table for Jimmy Butler before ultimately deciding to pull the trigger on a Sixers package headlined by Robert Covington and Dario Saric. In their latest report for The Athletic, Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic provide some details on the other two offers Minnesota was considering, which came from the Rockets and Pelicans.
According to Charania and Krawczynski, the Rockets – who had previously offered four first-round picks attached to Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss – adjusted their proposal to make it more appealing to Tom Thibodeau, who remains in win-now mode. Houston’s offer featured Eric Gordon, Nene, and two first-round picks, sources told The Athletic. It’s not clear what sort of protections would have been on those first-rounders, or whether any other pieces were involved.
As for the Pelicans, they weren’t mentioned often over the last couple months as a serious suitor for Butler, but they were engaged in talks with Minnesota at the end of the process. Charania and Krawczynski report that New Orleans’ package was headlined by Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected first-round pick. Again, it’s unclear what other pieces would have been included in such a deal — Mirotic’s salary wouldn’t have been enough to match Butler’s on its own.
The full report from Charania and Krawczynski is excellent, providing a timeline of the Butler saga from mid-September right up until today. It’s worth checking out in full if you have a subscription to The Athletic.
Here are a few more highlights from the piece:
- Friday’s game was viewed as a fork in the road for both the Timberwolves and Butler. We previously heard that Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden decided after that game that Butler had played his last game for the team — it sounds like Butler had made up his mind too. According to Charania and Krawczynski, the 29-year-old had decided to begin sitting out indefinitely after that game if Minnesota didn’t trade him.
- Thibodeau subsequently told his staff after Friday’s game that they had to move Butler, sources tell The Athletic. In fact, the Timberwolves nearly held the All-NBA swingman out of Friday’s game because they already had traction on a potential deal.
- The Heat‘s original offer for Butler included Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, and a draft pick, per Charania and Krawczynski. Miami later extended Winslow and put Josh Richardson into an offer. However, when a deal involving Richardson fell apart, the Heat pulled him off the table and never included him in another offer.
- Tom Thibodeau sold Timberwolves‘ owner Glen Taylor on passing on the initial offer from the Heat centered around Josh Richardson because he believed that Pat Riley would come back with a better offer down the road (the Heat never returned with Richardson on the table in subsequent trade talks).
Heat center Hassan Whiteside had a good stretch of games this past week, recording double-doubles in each of his three contests and nearly recording a triple-double in Wednesday’s win over the Spurs.
The Heat benefit most when Whiteside is fully engaged, and after last season’s back-and-forth debacle with coach Erik Spoelstra, many were quick to write the 29-year-old off before the 2018/19 season even began.
“I’m very confident, man,” Whiteside said after Wednesday’s win, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “My body feels great. I think a lot of people had written me off. That’s fine. I don’t need anybody’s justification. But I feel like if I do those things for myself, it’ll put me in the conversation of being an All-Star, being defensive player of the year.”
Whiteside worked tirelessly to improve his body and conditioning last summer, and it’s paid off through 12 games. Entering Monday’s contest against Joel Embiid and the 76ers, he’s holding per-game averages of 14 points, 15.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks.
“It’s kind of like he’s changing his mindset to be great,” teammate Bam Adebayo said.
Should Whiteside continue to play solid basketball on both ends, he could be in consideration for his first ever All-Star appearance with the Heat.
There’s more out of Miami today:
- Wayne Ellington could register interest from contenders as a trade candidate, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag. Ellington has the right to veto any trade and can’t be traded until December 15, should the Heat make a surprising decision to move him.
- The Heat could have missed an opportunity by not trading for Jimmy Butler, Winderman writes in a separate mailbag. Players such as James Johnson and Dion Waiters lost some value due to injuries, making it harder for Miami to strike a deal. The Timberwolves agreed to trade Butler to the 76ers on Saturday in a multi-player transaction.
- Yante Maten has drawn comparisons from his G League coach to former All-Star Paul Millsap, Winderman relays in a separate story. Maten is on a two-way contract with the Heat. He recorded 21 points and 10 rebounds in a win with the team’s G League affiliate on Saturday.
After two months of trying to make a dysfunctional situation work with Jimmy Butler, the Timberwolves finally reached their breaking point after an 0-5 road trip, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.
A combination of losing, economic concerns and the stress of not knowing from game to game if Butler was going to be available became too much for team officials. The Wolves, who left home with a .500 record but returned at 4-9, were worn down by the pressure that Butler has been applying since making his trade request two months ago.
Sources tell Krawczynski that coach/executive Tom Thibodeau, who had been resisting a trade while trying to convince Butler to stay, informed his coaching staff after the latest loss that a deal had to be made. Owner Glen Taylor stepped in Saturday and finalized the trade with the Sixers.
Minnesota had three offers to consider before pulling the trigger on the package that brought Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick from Philadelphia in exchange for Butler and injured center Justin Patton. Philadelphia made its latest offer on Wednesday, resuming discussions after a disappointing start to the season. The Rockets, who offered four first-round picks, never stopped pursuing Butler, while the Heat remained steadfast in their refusal to include Josh Richardson in any deal.
The schedule also factored into the timing of the Butler deal, Krawczynski adds. Attendance has plummeted as Wolves fans have grown tired of watching their team feud with its star player. The organization has been offering discounted ticket packages, but with 10 of its next 12 games at home, management wanted to resolve the situation to get paying customers back on their side.
There was also concern about the effect that the precedent that was being set for Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and any other young players who will eventually be free agents. Butler has been allowed to set the terms of the dispute without consequence, whether through provocative public statements about teammates and the front office, well-publicized confrontations at his first practice and day-to-day decisions on whether “general soreness” would keep him out of the lineup.
Players had grown tired of answering questions about Butler after every game, Krawczynski reports, and the situation had become too much of a distraction to continue. The Wolves finally decided the cumulative effect of dealing with Butler was too much and sent him away less than 18 months after he arrived.