Heat forward Okaro White is out indefinitely after breaking a bone in his left foot during Tuesday’s practice, the team announced in a tweet. Surgery is set for Thursday for White, who fractured his fifth metatarsal.
The second-year player has appeared in just six games this season, but started four times in late October and early November. He is averaging 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per night.
“It just kills you when you see something like this happen,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “He’ll be back, he has a lot of resiliency.” (Twitter link)
The Heat still have their $4.3MM room exception available, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks, but they would have to clear a roster spot to use it (Twitter link). Miami is already missing swingman Rodney McGruder, who had surgery last month on a left tibia stress fracture.
NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most and least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.
We’re taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division this week. Today, we’re tackling the Southeast division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Southeast teams:
Since the start of the 2016 offseason, the Heat have handed out lucrative long-term contracts to Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk, and Josh Richardson. It will be Tyler Johnson‘s deal that will be the toughest to swallow in 2018/19 though. Because of the way his 2016 offer sheet from the Nets was structured under the old CBA, Johnson’s cap charge will jump from about $5.88MM this season to $19MM+ next year.
Barring major cost-cutting moves, the Heat will be well over the cap in 2018/19, and may end up surpassing the luxury tax line too.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $116,377,251
Projection: Over the cap
The Hornets have six players on their roster set to make at least $12MM apiece in 2018/19, including two – Nicolas Batum and Dwight Howard – earning about twice that. Most of those contracts won’t be easy to move, and Charlotte won’t want to dump the more team-friendly salaries from that group, like Kemba Walker‘s $12MM expiring deal. As such, we can expect the Hornets to head into the 2018 offseason as an over-the-cap club.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $115,896,497
Projection: Over the cap
Despite the fact that John Wall‘s super-max extension won’t go into effect until 2019/20, the Wizards have nearly $116MM committed to just eight players next season. Even if the team were to trade a non-core player on an eight-figure salary, such as Ian Mahinmi or Marcin Gortat, it wouldn’t be enough to create meaningful cap space.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $78,180,655
Projection: Up to approximately $19.5MM in cap room
The summer of 2018 will be a good test for just how attached the Magic’s new front office is to the old regime’s top draft picks. Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton will be restricted free agents, and if Orlando intends to retain both players – or even just Gordon – the team’s cap room will disappear. Letting Gordon and Payton walk and waiving Shelvin Mack and his non-guaranteed salary would get the Magic up to nearly $20MM in cap space.
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $56,232,915
Projection: Up to approximately $41MM in cap room
The Hawks’ maximum available cap space for 2018 will hinge in part on whether Dewayne Dedmon and Mike Muscala decide to pick up their respective player options. Those options being exercised would reduce the Hawks’ max cap room to about $31MM, which would still be more than enough to make a major addition or two — or to take on a couple undesirable contracts along with picks or young players, if Atlanta isn’t ready yet to accelerate its rebuilding timeline.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The recent Eric Bledsoe trade has Heat beat writer Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel reexamining how the Goran Dragic deal holds up two years later. Like Bledsoe, Dragic was a quality Suns point guard that didn’t fit the team’s timeline at the time of the trade. Phoenix has yet to cash in on their spoils from that deal, Winderman writes. The Suns will collect Miami’s first-round pick in June (with some protections) and an unprotected first in 2021.
- If Dion Waiters plays in 70 games for the Heat this season, he’ll earn an additional $1.1MM, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes. That doesn’t mean the veteran will risk his health, however. “At the end of the day,” Waiters said, “If it’s something serious, I’m not going to put myself in harm’s way. I’m going to sit out. My body is more important.“
- Okaro White, whose 2017/18 salary recently became fully guaranteed, is emerging as a reliable rotation player for the Heat, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. After playing just 18 minutes in Miami’s first five games, White has averaged 17.7 MPG in the last four, starting three of those contests.
The Magic have jumped out to a 6-2 start this season despite the fact that much of the core they’ve featured this season is a carryover from last year’s team that finished just 29-53. The X-Factor that’s helping the team perform so much better in 2017/18 could very well be Jonathon Simmons, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes.
Simmons signed a three-year deal worth $20MM this summer and has earned the trust of head coach Frank Vogel early in his Magic career.
“He has earned the trust. You know, when we put the ball in his hands, typically, he makes good things happen,” Vogel said. “He’s a good decision maker, and he’s a threat going to the basket. I mean, he really attacks the rim and will get to the free throw line and will finish. He does a good job making the extra pass, too. I do have a lot of trust; he’s earned it very early with me in his stay [with the Magic].”
Through eight games with the Magic so far this year, Simmons has averaged 15.8 points and 3.6 rebounds.
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- According to the man himself, Nicolas Batum could be cleared to practice in the next nine days. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, caught up with the Hornets swingman as he recovers from a torn ligament in his left elbow that has sidelined him since early October.
- The Heat have looked thin on the perimeter thanks to a rash of injuries at the position. In a question-and-answer with readers, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel discusses whether or not the team ought to have considered using the money spent on Kelly Olynyk to pursue a wing, like Rudy Gay.
- The Wizards parted ways with Carrick Felix earlier today but have no immediate plans to fill the vacant roster spot, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned to action tonight after missing five games with a bone bruise on his left knee. Although Whiteside’s absence has been part of the reason for a disappointing 2-4 start, there are other factors, explains Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
Those include a defense that has slipped from fifth in points allowed last season to 23rd so far this year and 3-point shooting that ranks 27th in the league. Miami is also reeling from the loss of Rodney McGruder, who will miss three to six months after undergoing surgery for a left tibia stress fracture. “He’s always in the right spot, he’s always getting those 50/50 balls, even if it’s 70 against 30,” Goran Dragic said of the second-year shooting guard. “We don’t know how but he’s going to get that ball. Those are game changers.”
There’s more from Miami:
- The Heat held a team meeting Sunday to let players discuss the reasons for the slow start, Jackson writes in the same story. Tyler Johnson said coach Erik Spoelstra opened the meeting, followed by the team captains, then other players. “Sometimes I forget what got me here is undeniable energy and hunger,” Johnson said. “Nobody can keep me from being able to do my job. Whoever is matched up in front of me, I didn’t care who they were, if they were an all-star. That Rodney McGruder type attitude. We definitely do need to get back to that.”
- After posting his first double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Timberwolves, rookie Bam Adebayo credited his time at Kentucky for helping him get ready for the NBA, Jackson adds. Adebayo said Wildcats coach John Calipari teaches players to put the organization above their own goals. “If you sacrifice for the better of the team, that means you care about the team more than yourself,” Adebayo said. “Kentucky is a blueprint for the NBA.”
- Justise Winslow has relied on speed more than bulk while making the move to power forward, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The third-year player, who was limited to 18 games last season by wrist and shoulder problems, has dropped 10 pounds and embraced his new duties. “I think he’s quick, he’s faster, he’s able to get to the ball quicker,” Spoelstra said. “So much of having 12 rebounds in a game is quickness to the ball. And he’s got a knack to the ball, but now he can really get to it quickly.”
A lack of communication may be behind Miami’s sub-par start this season. As Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes, the Heat hashed things out in real, raw terms Sunday morning and seem to be in better spirits as a result of it.
“We had our discussions this morning,” forward James Johnson said. “We aired it out this morning. A lot of people took heat. I think it was the best thing for us to do, even more important than film. That’s what this culture is about, that’s what we’re about — staring guys in the eyes, telling guys the truth and that’s how you show you really love somebody.”
The Heat started famously bad last season before rallying from an 11-30 start to compete for an Eastern Conference playoff berth. That comeback was built largely on the culture that Johnson refers to.
There’s more out of Miami this weekend:
- Dion Waiters will still get an opportunity to be a closer for the Heat, despite the fact that he struggled mightily against the Celtics this weekend. Head coach Erik Spoesltra told the Sun Sentinel that, despite a lingering ankle issue that occasionally appears to impede him, Waiters will continue to be fully in the mix heading forward.
- The Heat have been without Hassan Whiteside since their season opener. Point guard Goran Dragic considers the 28-year-old center to be the heart of the team, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reports. The big man has missed four games with a bone bruise on his knee.
- The Heat haven’t started their campaign how they would have liked to and emotions are starting to ramp up. “I love all the emotions that players go through,” head coach Erik Spoelstra told the media, including the Sun Sentinel. “I don’t even care if it boils over. It means you care.”
Here are the G League updates from around the league today: