Heat Rumors

Southeast Notes: Mann, Ball, Fultz, Heat, Wizards

There wasn’t much playing time available for Tre Mann on a talented Oklahoma City team, but he moved into a starting role after being traded to the Hornets, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. With LaMelo Ball still injured, Mann has been tasked with running Charlotte’s offense and he’s averaging 13.7 points and 7.3 assists in his first three games.

“I think I’m fitting in pretty well,” Mann said. “I’m just coming out, trying to play hard around a bunch of talented guys. We’ve all got really good IQ, so it’s easy playing with guys like that. I think I’m playing well. I’m just trying to show off my playmaking ability as much as I can and it’s been fun.”

Ball will miss his 12th straight game tonight in Utah, but he’s making progress toward returning from a sprained right ankle. A source tells Boone that Ball has resumed on-court activities and is steadily increasing his workload. Mann believes the two guards can form an effective combination whenever Ball comes back.

“I think he can play a little bit off ball and I can do the same,” Mann said. “So, It’s his team and I’m going to adjust to whatever is better for him. For right now, I’m just trying to go out there and play team ball.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic will be without Markelle Fultz for their first game after the All-Star break, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. The seventh-year guard continues to deal with a nagging left knee injury, which has limited him to just 21 games thus far in 2023/24. It’s unclear how much more time Fultz will miss beyond Thursday’s contest in Cleveland, but it’s a situation worth monitoring down the stretch, as the 25-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Star forward Jimmy Butler missed the Heat‘s final three games leading into the break due to the death of a family member, but he was back at practice on Thursday and will be available for Friday’s game in New Orleans, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Josh Richardson (right shoulder dislocation) and Terry Rozier (right knee sprain) will both be out Friday, but they’re traveling on the team’s four-game road trip, Jackson adds. Veteran big man Kevin Love said Rozier was moving well at Thursday’s practice, though he did not do any live drills (Twitter link via Jackson). Richardson, meanwhile, was in street clothes and wearing a sling. Head coach Erik Spoelstra indicated Rozier had a chance to suit up during the road trip, but the prognosis for Richardson was less optimistic, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Guard Tyler Herro is questionable for Friday’s contest due to right foot soreness.
  • Key labor unions in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., publicly announced on Tuesday that they are opposed to Monumental Sports’ plan to move the Wizards from D.C. to Alexandria, Virginia, according to The Associated Press (link via ESPN.com). The Northern Virginia AFL-CIO and member unions cited in part an inability to reach a deal for union members to work on construction projects. It’s the latest obstacle in the proposed move, which has drawn opposition from several key figures in the region.

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Jovic, Highsmith, Jaquez

Bam Adebayo admits he’s had a tough time adjusting to his new role as team captain, the Heat center told Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Adebayo says the leadership responsibilities have made his season much more challenging.

“You’ve got to understand how to translate messages to everybody because everybody is different and everybody has their own stuff going on,” Adebayo said. “I got my own stuff going on in my mind, how I want to play and how I want to affect the game. And 14 other guys do, too. So trying to get 14 other guys to buy into your message, how you’re saying it, get them to buy into what the coach is saying. It’s tough because guys got dilemmas, guys got feelings.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • Adebayo only attempted two shots in the All-Star Game but he feels validated by the fact he’s been selected three times, Chiang writes in a separate story. “Respect, at the end of the day,” he said. “Being able to, obviously, get to this thing three times, you want it to become a routine. You want it to be an every year thing. For me, it’s just respect from all the coaches who voted me in and respect for who I am and what I do.”
  • Forward Nikola Jovic is trying to adjust to coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation tinkering. Jovic had a 24-point outing against Milwaukee in a game shortly before the All-Star break. In other games, he barely sees the court. “The wild thing is I either start or I don’t play,” Jovic told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Jovic said he’s happy for any opportunities he gets on a contending team.
  • A man who was seriously injured in a car accident when he was struck by Haywood Highsmith‘s vehicle has filed a civil lawsuit against the Heat forward, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The man was helping another driver whose car was stuck in the middle of a dark road when he was struck by Highsmith’s vehicle. The victim remains hospitalized after a partial amputation of his leg.
  • Jaime Jaquez Jr. has been one of the league’s most productive rookies and The Ringer’s Wes Goldberg’s details how the former UCLA star has quickly endeared himself to the team’s coaches and players.

Heat Sign Guard Delon Wright

The Heat have officially signed guard Delon Wright, according to a team press release.

Wright, a nine-year NBA veteran, has appeared in 494 career NBA games (84 starts) and averaged 7.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.22 steals and 20.8 minutes.

The Wizards bought out Wright on Friday and waived him. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on the same day that the guard intended to sign with Miami.

Wright received the prorated veteran’s minimum, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.

Wright had been with the Wizards since signing a two-year, $16MM contract with the club as a free agent in 2022. The 31-year-old appeared in 83 total games for Washington across those two seasons, averaging 6.1 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 20.2 minutes per game, with a shooting line of .450/.350/.854.

Wright had an expiring $8.2MM deal prior to the buyout. After averaging 15.1 minutes per contest in his first 29 games this season, Wright logged just 18 total minutes in the Wizards’ first four games after the trade deadline, signaling that he was no longer part of their plans, so his buyout agreement didn’t come as a huge surprise.

The Heat were looking for point guard depth following Dru Smith‘s season-ending injury and the January trade sending Kyle Lowry to Charlotte, as well as injuries to Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson.

The Heat had an open spot on their 15-man roster, which is now full. Miami was permitted to sign Wright despite being over the first tax apron because his pre-waiver salary was less than this season’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4MM).

Heat Notes: Love, Williams, Wright, Jaquez

There were reasons to believe Kevin Love‘s career might be nearing the end when he agreed to a buyout with the Cavaliers during last year’s All-Star break, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Instead, the past 12 months have included a trip to the NBA Finals and a new contract with the Heat, as well as the birth of his first child, all of which have combined to make Love very content in Miami.

“I think the thing that’s most gratifying to me is that going to a new location or a new team or a new organization, new city, especially at this stage in your career, you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “And after that run last year, I got so much fun out of it, as well as guys I’ll have relationships for life, bigger than basketball. My daughter was born on June 10th, right after Game 4 (of the NBA Finals). We bought a new house in Miami. It’s almost like we got to start our life in a place where we have a lot of friends and a lot of great teammates and people in the organization who have become family in a pretty quick time, so it has been a very happy year.”

Love was stuck on the bench in Cleveland, but a big forward who could shoot and rebound and had previous Finals experience was just what the Heat needed. He started 17 of the 21 regular season games he played after signing with Miami and maintained a rotation role throughout the team’s playoff run.

In addition to his on-court contributions, Love has become a veteran leader in the locker room, especially after the retirement of Udonis Haslem, Winderman notes. Love believes he can play for at least another year or two and then may transition into a mentorship role.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Alondes Williams was impressive in Friday’s Rising Stars competition, and he might get a shot at more playing time after the break, Winderman states in a mailbag column. Winderman speculates that the two-way player may be in line for a standard contract if the Heat decide to waive Dru Smith, who’s out for the rest of the season after undergoing ACL reconstruction surgery.
  • Delon Wright was likely promised regular minutes to get him to commit to the Heat, Winderman adds in the same piece. However, the extent of Wright’s rotation role won’t be clear until Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson return from their current injuries.
  • Jaime Jaquez, who jumped over Shaquille O’Neal for his first entry in Saturday’s Dunk Contest, said clearing the Hall of Fame center was a difficult thing to prepare for, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. “Listen, I ain’t gonna lie. I didn’t practice jumping over Shaq,” Jaquez said. “I used Bam [Adebayo] as practice. But there’s a big height difference. So I was really nervous when I saw Shaq out there. I’ve seen him a bunch of times. But when he’s standing there, I was definitely feeling nervous.”

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Wright, C. Martin, Magic Rookies

Bam Adebayo will become the first Heat player to start in an All-Star Game since Dwyane Wade did it in 2016, having been named to the Eastern Conference starting lineup by head coach Doc Rivers as an injury replacement for Joel Embiid, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

As Rivers observed on Saturday, with the East’s All-Star roster relatively heavy on guards and wings, Adebayo was the most obvious choice to replace Embiid in the middle.

“My lineup decision was easy,” Rivers said. “I looked at Big Joel out, what other (center) do we have on the team, and Bam got the honor. It’s good for him, too. It’s funny, I told him in locker room. He didn’t know. I thought he knew because I told the league yesterday that he did know. You could tell he was very happy about it.”

As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, Adebayo had already joined an exclusive group by becoming the sixth player in franchise history to earn three All-Star nods as a member of the Heat, joining Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O’Neal, Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. However, Sunday will be his first All-Star start.

“It’s going to be a dope experience,” Adebayo said. “Just going to really cherish that moment and thankful to God and all the people who support me through all the ups and downs. We’ve added something new to our list.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In a separate story for The Miami Herald, Chiang examines how Delon Wright will help the Heat once the veteran guard clears waivers and officially signs with the team. Wright may not play a significant role when Miami’s roster is fully healthy, Chiang acknowledges, but he’s a talented defender who takes care of the ball on offense (82 assists to 11 turnovers this season) and will upgrade the club’s depth.
  • Cody Martin has been beset by injuries since finalizing a four-year, $31MM deal with the Hornets in 2022, but he’s finally healthy and is producing like Charlotte hoped he would when he signed that contract, notes ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Insider link). Lowe refers to Martin as a tough and selfless player who would have real trade value if he finishes this season strong, given his team-friendly contract ($8.12MM guaranteed in 2024/25; $8.68MM non-guaranteed in ’25/26).
  • Anthony Black has played a far more significant role this season than fellow Magic lottery pick Jett Howard, but the team’s front office remains “really excited” about both players, president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman tells Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. “Jett’s done really well in Osceola,” Weltman said, referring to the Magic’s G League affiliate. “Those guys are on different paths right now but we’re very high on Jett as well. He’s got a lot of gifts.”

Delon Wright Bought Out By Wizards, Plans To Sign With Heat

4:02pm: The Wizards have officially waived Wright, the team confirmed today in a press release.

2:08pm: Veteran guard Delon Wright has reached an agreement on a contract buyout with the Wizards, agent Greg Lawrence tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Wright intends to sign with the Heat after he clears waivers.

Wright, 31, has been with the Wizards since signing a two-year, $16MM contract with the club as a free agent in 2022. He appeared in 83 total games for Washington across those two seasons, averaging 6.1 points, 3.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.5 steals in 20.2 minutes per game, with a shooting line of .450/.350/.854.

Viewed as an obvious trade candidate this season due to his expiring $8.2MM deal and the Wizards’ place near the bottom of the NBA standings, Wright was mentioned in several rumors leading up to last Thursday’s deadline.

However, he stayed put, with Josh Robbins of The Athletic subsequently reporting that the offers Washington received for the 31-year-old were “underwhelming” and would’ve required the Wizards to take on salary beyond this season.

After averaging 15.1 minutes per contest in his first 29 games this season, Wright logged just 18 total minutes in the Wizards’ first four games after the trade deadline, signaling that he was no longer part of their plans, so his buyout agreement doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

Wright has a somewhat limited offensive game, but is a solid passer who takes care of the ball and can make an open three-point shot. Much of his value stems from his play on the other end of the court, where he’s an active, versatile perimeter defender.

He’ll join a Heat team that lacks depth at the point guard position following Dru Smith‘s season-ending injury and the January trade sending Kyle Lowry to Charlotte. Players like Terry Rozier, Tyler Herro, and Josh Richardson have played the position for Miami this season, but none are prototypical point guards, and Rozier and Richardson are both currently injured. Wright will give the club another ball-handling option in that role.

The Heat have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so no corresponding move will be necessary to make room for Wright. Miami is permitted to sign Wright despite being over the first tax apron because his pre-waiver salary was less than this season’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4MM).

Filling their 15th roster spot will allow the Heat to use their two-way players in up to 50 games apiece, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes (via Twitter). As long as Miami had an open roster spot, those three players will limited to a combined total of 90 games played.

The Wizards will have just 13 players on standard contracts once they officially waive Wright. They’ll have up to two weeks to re-add a 14th man.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Lowry, Roster Spot, Highsmith

Heat center Bam Adebayo faces a difficult path toward making an All-NBA team or earning Defensive Player of the Year honors, which would qualify him for a super-max contract that would be the richest in franchise history, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Either achievement would make Adebayo eligible for a four-year extension this summer that would pay up to $245MM. Otherwise, his extension would be capped at three years and $152MM.

The league has changed its all-NBA structure so that the team is now positionless, meaning the top 15 vote-getters will be honored regardless of where they play. Jackson notes that under the old rules, Adebayo would have a decent chance at landing one of the three center spots, considering that Joel Embiid will miss the 65-game requirement and Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis aren’t guaranteed to reach that mark either. Now Adebayo is competing with the entire league after ranking 27th overall in All-NBA balloting last season.

Adebayo is given the sixth-best odds for DPOY by Draft Kings and Fanduel, Jackson points out. Minnesota’s Rudy Gobert is seen as the clear favorite for that honor as the anchor for one of the league’s top defensive teams.

Jackson states that Adebayo turned down a two-year, $97MM extension last summer in hopes of qualifying for the super-max. His current contract runs through 2025/26.

There’s more on the Heat:

  • There was no reunion with Kyle Lowry in the Heat’s Wednesday win at Philadelphia, Jackson writes in a separate story. The former Miami point guard signed with his hometown Sixers after reaching a buyout with Charlotte, but he won’t join the team until after the All-Star break.
  • Miami is expected to fill its 15-man roster opening soon to avoid reaching the 90-game combined limit for its players on two-way contracts, Jackson adds.
  • Haywood Highsmith is grateful to have basketball as an escape as he deals with the aftermath of last week’s auto accident that left a man hospitalized, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “Basketball is my peace,” Highsmith said. “I wanted to get back with my teammates and my coaches, to be around them, so they can get my energy up. Obviously, it hasn’t been the easiest week or so for me, but I’m just taking it day by day, and being around my team has been very helpful. Being around my family, the coaching staff, everybody, has been very helpful. So the Heat culture, Heat family had my back, so I appreciate that.”
  • Bucks coach Doc Rivers was impressed by Miami’s ability to cultivate young talent after Jaime Jaquez and Nikola Jovic led the Heat to a win at Milwaukee Tuesday night, Winderman notes in another Sun Sentinel story. “Jaquez, I mean, he’s the perfect fit for who they are and how they want to be,” Rivers said. “You know, it’s funny, I think certain guys actually target them, ‘Man, I’d fit in this system.’ Utah did that for years with Jerry Sloan. They kept doing it. And Miami’s doing it. But it’s more about their system and how they play, and how they target. But both of those guys are fun to watch.”

Hassan Whiteside Reportedly Intends To Retire

Veteran center Hassan Whiteside has informed Piratas de Quebradillas – his team last season in Puerto Rico – that he intends to retire from basketball, according to a report from the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia.

Although Whiteside hasn’t made an official, public announcement himself, he did re-post several social media stories about his reported retirement on his Instagram account.

Whiteside, 34, was the 33rd overall pick out of Marshall in the 2010 draft and spent his first two professional seasons playing in Sacramento. However, he saw limited minutes in just total 19 appearances for the Kings and subsequently played in the G League, China, and Lebanon from 2012-14 before catching on with the Heat.

The best stretch of Whiteside’s NBA career came in Miami from 2014-19, as he averaged 14.1 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks across 324 appearances (259 starts) in 27.2 minutes per night. He made the All-Defensive Second Team and led the NBA in blocked shots in 2015/16, then was the league’s top rebounder in ’16/17.

Whiteside was traded from the Heat to the Trail Blazers entering the final season of a four-year, $98MM+ contract in 2019 and once again led the NBA in blocked shots in his first and only season in Portland. He was a backup center with the Kings in 2020/21 and the Jazz in ’21/22 before playing in Puerto Rico in 2023.

For his career, Whiteside averaged 12.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in 511 NBA regular season games (24.7 MPG). Despite his gaudy stats, the big man sometimes faced criticism due to the perception that he pursued individual numbers over team success and that his effort fluctuated on the defensive end of the court.

According to El Nuevo Dia, Whiteside will be replaced on Piratas de Quebradillas’ roster this season by another former NBA player: 7’6″ center Tacko Fall.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Langdon, Brand, Heat, Capela, Okongwu

With Mitch Kupchak shifting to an advisory role, the Hornets are seeking a lead executive with previous experience, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports. Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon and Sixers GM Elton Brand are considered the early frontrunners to replace Kupchak, Boone adds.

Charlotte is likely to hire both a president of basketball operations and a GM, according to Boone, who also lists Bucks assistant GM Milt Newton, Nets assistant GM Jeff Peterson and Knicks assistant GM Frank Zanin as potential candidates for the lead executive job.

Bulls GM Marc Eversley is another name under consideration, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have won four of their last six games, following a seven-game losing streak. A team meeting in late January helped to turn their fortunes, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Numerous players spoke up, as well as coach Erik Spoelstra. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Heat swingman Duncan Robinson said of the team’s improved play. “If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time in the NBA, it’s that a big part of playing well is not necessarily about Xs and Os, but putting your own whatever sort of things you’re going through aside and just giving into the team. I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”
  • The Hawks’ top two centers are banged up heading into the All-Star break, according to a team press release. Clint Capela is showing progress in his rehab from a left adductor strain but he’ll be listed as out for Wednesday’s game at Charlotte. He’s expected to return to practice following the All-Star break. Onyeka Okongwu left Monday’s game against Chicago late in the fourth quarter with a left big toe injury. Okongwu underwent an MRI on Tuesday and has been diagnosed with a left big toe sprain. He’ll be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.
  • In case you missed it, there’s an update on Miles Bridges‘ latest legal situation.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

A number of free agent signings have been finalized in the days since last Thursday’s trade deadline, but there are still many teams around the NBA with one or more open spots on their respective rosters.

For clubs with just a single standard or two-way opening, there’s not necessarily any urgency to fill those spots, especially ahead of the All-Star break. But the clock is ticking for teams who have two or more openings on their standard rosters to make a move, since clubs are only permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard contracts for up to two weeks at a time.

With the help of our roster count tracker, here’s where things stand for all 30 teams around the NBA as of Tuesday afternoon. As a reminder, teams are typically permitted to carry up to 15 players on standard contracts and three on two-way deals.

(Note: Teams marked with an asterisk have a player on a 10-day contract.)

Teams with multiple open roster spots

  • Brooklyn Nets
    • Note: One of the Nets’ roster openings is a two-way slot.
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Milwaukee Bucks
    • Note: Both of the Bucks’ roster openings are two-way slots.
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • New York Knicks *
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Phoenix Suns

The Warriors, Timberwolves, and Pelicans are all currently carrying 13 players on standard, full-season contracts, with all three of their two-way slots filled. That means they’ll have to add a 14th man at some point in the not-too-distant future to adhere to the NBA’s minimum roster requirements.

Golden State and Minnesota made trades on February 8 that dropped them below 14 players, so those two teams have until Feb. 22 to add a player. New Orleans’ deadline is coming a little earlier, since the club dipped to 13 when Malcolm Hill‘s 10-day contract expired on Feb. 6.

No roster moves are required for the Nets and Bucks, as both teams have at least 14 players on standard contracts, with one or more two-way openings. I’d expect Brooklyn and Milwaukee to fill those two-way slots before the two-way signing deadline in early March, though they don’t necessarily have to.

The Knicks and Sixers currently only have 12 players on standard, full-season contracts. New York also has Taj Gibson on a 10-day deal, while Philadelphia is poised to sign Kyle Lowry to a rest-of-season contract. Both teams will need to make at least one more roster move by Feb. 22 after dipping down to 12 players on trade deadline day last Thursday.

As for the Suns, they’re currently carrying just 13 players on standard contracts, but it sounds like they’ve already lined up a deal with a 14th man — a report earlier today indicated that they’re preparing to sign Thaddeus Young.

Teams with one open roster spot

  • Boston Celtics
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Cleveland Cavaliers *
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Miami Heat
  • Utah Jazz
  • Washington Wizards

One of the 14 players on the Cavaliers‘ standard roster is Zhaire Smith, who is on a 10-day deal. Once his contract expires next week, the Cavs will have to either re-sign him or add another 14th man — and they’ll have to do it right away.

In addition to being prohibited from carrying fewer than 14 players on standard deals for more than two weeks at a time, NBA teams are limited to 28 days of carrying fewer than 14 players over the course of a season. The Cavs have already reached that 28-day limit, having carried just 13 players from January 4-18 and again from January 28 until February 11.

The rest of these teams have 14-man standard rosters with no two-way openings, meaning there’s no urgency for them to make any moves, though they’ll likely fill those open roster slots at some point between now and the end of the season in April.

Teams with no open roster spots

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Detroit Pistons *
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Memphis Grizzlies *
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Orlando Magic
  • Portland Trail Blazers *
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Toronto Raptors *

Twelve of these 13 teams have full 18-man rosters, with 15 players signed to standard contracts and three to two-way deals. However, the Pistons, Trail Blazers, and especially the Raptors are worth monitoring here, since they all have players on 10-day contracts and can open up roster spots when those deals expire.

Detroit and Portland are each carrying a single player on a 10-day deal, while Toronto has two, meaning the Raptors will dip down to 13 players on standard contracts during the All-Star break. They’ll have up to two weeks to get back to 14.

The Grizzlies are actually carrying 19 players at the moment, with 16 players on standard contracts (15 full-season deals, plus Jordan Goodwin on a 10-day) because they’ve been granted a hardship exception due to all the injured players they’re missing.