Heat Rumors

Chinese Teams Interested In Jahlil Okafor?

Jahlil Okafor appears to have offers waiting in China if he can’t find an NBA team to sign him, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

The third player taken in the 2015 draft, Okafor washed out in Philadelphia and didn’t play much after being traded to the Nets in December. He got into just 26 games with Brooklyn and averaged 6.4 PPG in 12.6 minutes per night.

Okafor is working out in Miami, but the Heat aren’t interested in signing him, Carchia writes. We detailed several other franchises that have apparently withdrawn their interest earlier this week, including the Nets, Pacers and Bulls. However, four teams sent representatives to Okafor’s recent workout in Las Vegas and he remains hopeful of catching on with someone before training camps open.

Chinese Team Willing To Offer “Monster Deal” To Dwyane Wade?

As Dwyane Wade ponders whether or not he wants to return for a 16th NBA season, another option overseas reportedly may now exist. The Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association are reportedly prepared to offer Wade a “monster deal” to join the team (via Sportando).

Wade, 36, returned to the Heat at midseason in 2017/18 following a trade from the Cavaliers. The 12-time All-Star averaged 12.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 21 games with Miami, showing flashes of his prior success. However, earlier this week, Wade — currently in the midst of a promotional tour in China — was mum on his future plans.

“When I get back from China, I’ll focus on that,” Wade told the Associated Press. “Right now, I’m focused on the game after basketball. Whatever happens in basketball, it happens. I’ve done everything that I can to this point to put myself that I’m in this position I am today, where I can do something that hasn’t been done globally yet.”

The Heat’s options to re-sign Wade are limited to their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception and the $2.4MM minimum salary given Wade’s NBA tenure.

Wade’s longtime teammate and close friend, Udonis Haslem, has said he may continue his career overseas next season in search of more playing time. While Wade would still be a factor for the Heat if he returned, if his close friend considers playing in China, it may increase the odds of him following suit.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

Heat Notes: Wade, Q. Richardson, Winslow, Leonard

Dwyane Wade will wait until he returns from a trip to China before deciding whether to play next season, relays Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Wade traveled overseas to announce a lifetime contract with Chinese apparel company Li-Ning, continuing a relationship that began in 2012. Although financial terms were not disclosed, the deal is believed to pay Wade tens of millions of dollars.

“Right now, I’m focused on the game after basketball,” Wade said when asked about his NBA career. “Whatever happens in basketball, it happens. I’ve done everything that I can to this point to put myself that I’m in this position I am today, where I can do something that hasn’t been done globally yet. The basketball will take care of itself. I’ll sit down and figure that out once I get back from this tour at some point.”

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • Former Heat player Quentin Richardson, who will return to Miami this weekend as part of the Big3 tour, tells Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel he hopes to see Wade play at least one more season. “I think it’ll come down to what his passion is and what he feels like he has left,” Richardson said. “Look at Manu Ginobili, I feel like he can play a few more years like Manu did and be as good if not better as he has been. In my eyes, I still think he has something left. That’s ultimately a decision that comes down to him and his family.”
  • The Heat must decide soon if Justise Winslow is worth a long-term investment, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. With three years of NBA service, Winslow is eligible for an extension this summer. If the Heat don’t work out an agreement prior to the start of the regular season, Winslow will be a restricted free agent next offseason. A team source tells Jackson that no decision has been made on whether to make an extension offer, but it doesn’t appear the Heat have been entertaining trade offers for Winslow.
  • Miami lost out on Kawhi Leonard because it didn’t have a star to offer the Spurs, Winderman writes in a separate piece. The Heat might have been able to offer a combination of young talent in Winslow, Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo, but San Antonio wanted a scorer who contribute right away, and Miami doesn’t have anyone like DeMar DeRozan.

And-Ones: Billups, LeBron, Free Agency, Budinger

ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups wants to run an NBA team in the near future, according to an Associated Press report. Billups turned down the Cavaliers’ GM job last summer, saying then it would tough to rebuild the team if LeBron James bolted. Rumors flew this summer that he’d be a candidate for a Pistons’ front-office post but he wasn’t seriously considered. “My desire is to one day run a team, be in a front office and try to build a champion,” Billups said. “I know that I will and I know I’m going to do a good job. When that opportunity presents itself, and it’s a good opportunity, I’ll be ready to go.”

In other news from around the league and overseas:

  • LeBron James will skip next week’s USA Basketball minicamp, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. It will be the first official session for USA Basketball with the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich as the head coach.
  • Dwyane Wade could be a bargain for the Heat or another team still shopping for a free agent guard, according to another AP story. Wade could probably be signed in the $5MM range. Vince Carter, Michael Beasley and restricted free agent Marcus Smart are three other veteran free agents who could offer value at a bargain rate, the story adds.
  • Former NBA forward Chase Budinger is pursuing a career in volleyball, Drew Ruiz of HoopsHype reports. Budinger is chasing an Olympic dream and has become a partner with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal on the AVP Beach Volleyball circuit. “That’s been a goal of mine since I was in high school, to be on an Olympic team and playing for the USA,” Budinger told Ruiz. Budinger’s NBA career ended after he played 17 games for the Suns in the second half of the 20015/16 season.
  • Former NBA guard Mike James has signed a lucrative offer sheet with Italy’s Olimpia Milano through the 2021 season, international expert David Pick tweets. James started 10 games for the Suns last season and appeared in 32 games overall, averaging 10.4 PPG and. 3.8 APG. After getting waived, he played four games with the Pelicans before getting waived again. He then had a second stint with Greece’s Panathinaikos Athens and won a championship.

Heat Notes: Vaughn, Stoudemire, Whiteside, Robinson

At age 21, former first-round pick Rashad Vaughn is trying to salvage his NBA career, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Vaughn was part of the Heat’s entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, hoping to earn another shot after being traded twice and waived twice last season.

Vaughn was taken by the Bucks with the 17th pick in the 2015 draft, but his career tailed off quickly after a promising rookie season. In February, Milwaukee dealt him to the Nets, who sent him to the Pelicans two days later. After being waived by New Orleans, Vaughn signed two 10-day contracts with the Magic, but wasn’t kept when the second one expired.

“This is kind of my journey,” Vaughn said. “I’ve got to take a look at it and see what I did wrong and go from there and continue to try to just persevere from there.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire, who will be back in Miami this week with the Big3 League, is also hoping for another NBA opportunity, Winderman writes in a separate story. Stoudemire, 35, sat out last season after winning a championship in Israel the year before. He said he would be interested in a return to the Heat, but hasn’t spoken to anyone from the team. “As of right now, I’m showing my athletic ability and the way I move,” Stoudemire said. “I think a lot of teams haven’t really seen me play since the last time I played in Israel, so I just want them to see I have great heath and am able to be on that level. Once they see how healthy I am and how good I feel, I think teams will be able to sign me at that point.”
  • The Heat have been open about their desire to trade Hassan Whiteside, but Stoudemire believes his former teammate can succeed in Miami, Winderman adds in the same story. Stoudemire said Whiteside needs to work on his post skills this summer and become a more effective inside scorer. “You can’t be satisfied with the money and the fame; you have to be able to work to become great,” Stoudemire said. “And that’s one thing that a lot players don’t understand. You can have amazing potential, but you’re never going to reach that potential unless you put in that work.”
  • Duncan Robinson was among the biggest winners in summer league, earning a two-way contract with the Heat. Robinson quickly impressed the team with his outside shot, summer league coach Eric Glass tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “He came in and really played well and shot it like we thought and showed us that he can do a couple other things on the court that we liked,” Glass said. “And obviously a two-way came out of that, which he really earned.”

Heat Offer Contracts To Daryl Macon, Yante Maten

With their summer league season over, the Heat have made Exhibit 10 offers to a pair of undrafted players, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Arkansas point guard Daryl Macon and Georgia forward Yante Maten both played well enough to make Miami want to bring them to training camp. Agents for both players say they will consider the offers but they also have opportunities with other teams.

Players with exhibit 10 contracts can make between $5K and $50K if they are waived in camp and spent at least 60 days with their team’s G League affiliate.

Macon has Exhibit 10 offers from four NBA teams, along with interest from clubs in Italy, Spain, Belgium and Korea, agent Reggie Brown tells Jackson. He adds that Macon would be guaranteed $225K if he takes the Korean offer.

“Macon has kind of an unknown quality,” said Chet Kammerer, the Heat’s VP of player personnel. “He’s gifted as far as his athleticism, his length and quickness, his ability to shoot. He’s an 87 percent career free throw shooter. Not many college guys shoot the ball that well from the line.”

Maten has received Exhibit 10 offers from “half the league,” according to his agent, Austin Walton of NEXT Sports, who adds, “We will sift through what we have and make a decision.” Walton is hoping to secure a two-way contract for Maten and said Miami wants to hold a training camp competition for its open two-way deal.

“We saw him play in the SEC and he was player of the year [as a senior],” Kammerer said. “He’s been a solid player over his career at Georgia and had some individual highs over the course of his career. He started kind of slow but he’s really a solid basketball player. Versatile. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

The Heat currently have 11 players under contract, with roster spots set aside for Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem if they decide to continue their careers. Duncan Robinson holds one of the team’s two-way contracts.

Wayne Ellington Re-Signs With Heat

JULY 13, 6:53pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 12, 8:35pm: Free agent guard Wayne Ellington will re-sign with the Heat, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald."<strong

Ellington will receive $6.27MM for one year, the same amount he made in 2017/18. Negotiations lasted almost two weeks because the organization didn’t want to go too far into luxury tax territory, Jackson adds.

The Heat will officially become a taxpaying team, according to Bobby Marks on ESPN Now. As Marks details, a total team salary of $127MM puts Miami over the tax threshold by $3.2MM and gives the club a projected tax bill of $4.9MM so far.

With 12 guaranteed contracts on their books so far for the upcoming season, the Heat still have their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception available. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem are candidates to return and fill a couple of the club’s open roster slots.

The Heat will continue to try to trim salary, with Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson among the players being made available in trade, a rival executive tells Jackson. Ellington isn’t a trade candidate, but for what it’s worth, he’ll be able to veto any deal this season because of the one-year Bird rights restriction.

Ellington, 30, has been a deadly shooter off the bench in his two seasons with the Heat. He averaged a career-best 11.2 PPG during the 2017/18 season, sinking 227 3-pointers and shooting 39% from long distance.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Trade Talks, Johnson, Whiteside

The Heat have been looking to shed salary, having made Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, and Dion Waiters available in trade talks, two rival high-ranking executives tell Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

According to those execs, however, Miami has been unwilling to attach a future first-round pick or a young player like Justise Winslow or Josh Richardson to those highly-paid veterans. As Jackson details, the Heat’s preference would be to move a big contract like Johnson’s for a lesser-paid – and perhaps less effective player – or a draft pick.

Whiteside, Johnson, and Waiters aren’t bad players, but they’re not positive trade assets on their current contracts, which span multiple seasons and will pay them $25.4MM, 19.2MM, and $11.6MM respectively in 2018/19. As such, the Heat will likely have to adjust their expectations and their asking price if they hope to move any of those players.

Here are several more notes out of South Beach:

  • In an article for The Miami Herald, Barry Jackson explores the Heat’s options with Tyler Johnson‘s contract and notes that agent Mark Bartelstein isn’t ruling the possibility of Derrick Walton returning to the Heat. Miami withdrew Walton’s two-way qualifying offer earlier this week.
  • Heat head coach Erik Spoeltra appears committed to a fresh start with Hassan Whiteside, telling reporters this week that he has been in “constant contact” with the veteran center this summer (link via The Miami Herald). “I’m looking forward to the start of the season with a healthy Hassan. I know he’s looking forward to that,” Spoelstra said. “And we still have a good part of the summer to get better. I think Hassan having an opportunity to start off the season healthy will be a really big boost for us.”
  • The Heat remain on the lookout for under-the-radar free agents who are participating in the Las Vegas Summer League or holding individual workouts in Vegas this week, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Guys are getting two-ways during Summer League right now,” assistant GM Adam Simon said. “So those guys come off the table. So my job, our job, is to make sure we’re aware of all players that are available and then when it’s time to make decisions, then, as a group, we make those decisions.”
  • In a separate article for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman examines how the Heat will handle their logjam at shooting guard with Wayne Ellington re-signing and a Dwyane Wade return still in play.

Rockets Remain Frontrunners For Carmelo Anthony

A report last weekend indicated that executives around the NBA viewed the Rockets as favorites to land Carmelo Anthony if and when he reaches free agency. Multiple reports this week have corroborated that story, with Marc Stein of The New York Times and Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) both suggesting that Houston is the frontrunner for Anthony.

According to Stein, it would be a “full-fledged surprise” if Anthony doesn’t end up playing for the Rockets. Charania conveys a similar sentiment, writing that Houston is the “strong” favorite to land the veteran forward, having pulled away from the Heat in the Carmelo sweepstakes.

Anthony is still technically a member of the Thunder, but Oklahoma City is on track to part ways with the 10-time All-Star, either by buying him out, waiving and stretching him, or trading him to a team that will waive him.

[RELATED: Examining how a Carmelo Anthony trade could work]

As we learned earlier this week, the Thunder granted Anthony and his representatives permission to speak to potential suitors. Carmelo and his reps reportedly met with the Rockets and Heat, who were both said to have legitimate interest. The Lakers were mentioned as a possible landing spot for Anthony earlier in free agency, but Stein suggests L.A.’s interest was overstated.

The Rockets have lost Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute so far this offseason, but reached a deal to sign three-and-D wing James Ennis. Anthony would help fortify the team’s frontcourt depth. The club would be able to sign him using either the minimum salary exception or some or all of the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.337MM).

European Teams Interested In Luke Babbitt

Veteran forward Luke Babbitt is drawing interest from several EuroLeague teams, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Barcelona and Maccabi Tel Aviv are among the clubs that have checked on Babbitt, Cauchi adds.

Babbitt, 29, started this season with the Hawks before being traded to the Heat at the February deadline. He appeared in 50 total games and averaged 5.2 PPG, but his numbers declined after coming to Miami, where he averaged just 11.2 minutes per night. He was used for just three total minutes in the playoffs.

The 16th pick in the 2010 draft, Babbitt has spent his entire career in the NBA except for a brief overseas excursion during the 2013/14 season. He signed with Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, but left after a few months.