- The Heat are expected to seek offers for combo guard Tyler Johnson as early as this summer but his contract provisions will make that difficult, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explains. Johnson will make $19.2MM in each of the final two years of the backloaded deal, plus Miami would have to pay a $3.2MM trade kicker, Jackson continues. Any team trading for Johnson this offseason would have to take on the additional $1.6MM cap hit in each of the next two seasons. Miami matched the Nets’ offer sheet for Johnson during the summer of 2016.
With a big offeason looming once the 2017/18 NBA regular season comes to an end, several ESPN writers spoke to NBA players to get their predictions on where they expect some of this summer’s top free agents to land. In total, 48 players weighed in. Here are some highlights from the results of ESPN’s survey:
- LeBron James is considered likely to return to the Cavaliers, with 59% of the respondents picking Cleveland as his free agency destination, while 22% chose the Lakers. “He won’t leave after all the moves they made last week,” one Eastern Conference forward said of LeBron, referring to the Cavs’ trade-deadline deals. Asked where James should sign, even more respondents (66%) voted for Cleveland.
- If James does decide he wants to join the Lakers, the LaVar Ball show won’t be a deterrent, according to 89% of the players surveyed. “If LeBron comes to L.A., then it’s the LeBron show. Not the Ball show,” said one Eastern Conference center.
- Most of the survey respondents (80%) believe DeMarcus Cousins will re-sign with the Pelicans.
- Only 33% of the players surveyed expect Paul George to be in the Thunder‘s opening-night lineup for 2018/19.
- The respondents are slightly in favor (59%) of maximum salary contracts existing in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. “LeBron, Steph and KD, all those guys bring a lot more than what they’re getting paid,” said one Western Conference guard. “But being a lower-tier salary guy myself, if you pay those guys even more, the lower guys on the totem pole don’t really get anything.”
- Asked which teams make the best pitches to free agents, players chose the Celtics (27%), Heat (15%), Lakers (12%), and Warriors (9%), with nine other clubs receiving votes. One Eastern Conference guard on Boston: “If you bring Tom Brady? That’s pretty damn cool.”
- In his latest installment of Ask Ira, Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel addressed the possibility of Justise Winslow losing playing time once Kelly Olynyk and Rodney McGruder return from injury. While Winslow is a talented player, his role on the Heat will likely diminish now that Dwyane Wade has returned and other players are healthy, Winderman writes.
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald spoke to a veteran NBA scout who said that the Heat must blow up their roster this offseason. “Let’s put it this way,” the scout said. “Goran Dragic is their best player, but if you had a really good team that would contend for a championship, you would want him to be your fourth-best player, maybe [third if you had two superstars]. Jackson goes up and down the roster, with the veteran scout assessing each player’s value for next season.
Despite a well-documented friendship, two championships won together as members of the Heat in 2012 and 2013, and having an integral role in bringing King James to Miami back in 2010, Dwyane Wade will not involve himself in the upcoming free agency of LeBron James, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
As part of his interview with ESPN’s Jorge Sedano, Wade also spoke on his time with the Cavaliers, saying that he is appreciative of General Manager Koby Altman for helping to facilitate his reunion with the Heat.
- In another piece for the Sun-Sentinel, Winderman reports that Wade will not be held out of back-to-back games as a matter of course as he was during his previous tenure with the Heat. In fact, Wade is active tonight against Philadelphia after playing 21 minutes in last night’s loss to Toronto.
Dwyane Wade is back with the Heat and he has already played in his first game back. The fans welcomed the three-time NBA champion with open arms, as did the organization. It’s clear that Wade is no longer the perennial All-Star he was for his first 13 seasons, but he appreciates whatever role he is given, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.
Wade, 36, already said that he does not intend to leave the Heat again and wants to retire with the franchise. In the few days Wade has been back, he made it clear that his goal is to help the team in any role.
Appearing on NBA TV Friday night after donning a Heat jersey for the first time in more than 20 months, Wade said he never wants to play for another organization. “This is it for me guys,” he stated. “I’m [going to] stay here until I decide to hang it up. This is home. I’m so happy to be back.”
Wade was beloved in Miami, bringing three NBA titles to the city before leaving in 2016 over a salary dispute. He wound up with two bad experiences, spending one season in Chicago before agreeing to a buyout, then signing with a Cavaliers team that became so dysfunctional that management opted for a midseason roster overhaul.
The Heat got Wade at a bargain price, giving up a heavily protected second-round pick in 2024 that will probably never be conveyed. He received a hero’s welcome when his plane landed at the Miami airport, then another when he walked onto the court for Friday’s game.
“It’s right. It sounds right. It’s second nature,” Wade said. “I was telling somebody recently that I was in my kitchen in Cleveland and watching ESPN and something came up and it said Heat versus somebody and I said ‘We play?’ And [then] I’m like ‘That’s right I don’t play in Miami no more.’ So it’s like a thing — every time I see Heat in my mind it was always like ‘We.’ So, it definitely feels good to be here, to be in the locker room.”
It appears the Heat have a long-term arrangement in mind as well. Wade will be a free agent again this summer and the team is capped out, but it can use one of its exceptions to re-sign him. After making the trade Thursday, team president Pat Riley said Wade still has a lot to offer.
Wade doesn’t mind being used as a reserve in Miami after taking on the same role in Cleveland. He also looks forward to serving as a mentor to his new teammates.
“We’ve got so much growth possibility here,” he added. “I’ve got so much to learn about these guys’ talents. I’m excited about it. Like I said, [Friday night] was definitely a good start. We did some good things and like I said we did some things we can learn from. It’s a young team that can get better.”
Before NBA teams started reaching trade agreements on Thursday, we published the latest entry in our Hoops Rumors Glossary, focusing on the traded player exception. As we explain in our breakdown, the traded player exception can allow over-the-cap teams to receive more salary than they send out in “simultaneous” trades.
The more common form of traded player exception is the one generated in a “non-simultaneous” trade, when a team send out a single player and takes back less salary – or none at all – in return. The team then has one calendar year to use that newly-created exception to acquire one or more players whose salaries fit into that exception.
For instance, the Raptors created a $11,800,000 trade exception in last July’s DeMarre Carroll trade with the Nets, meaning that on Thursday they could have acquired a player earning, say, $11MM without sending out any salary in return.
Not many teams took advantage of their outstanding trade exceptions on Thursday, but at least a couple teams appear to have completed trades with previously existing trade exceptions, or with disabled player exceptions. Nearly every trade completed on Thursday also generated at least one new trade exception, so we’ll round up those newly-created TPEs below.
With the help of tweets from cap experts Albert Nahmad and Bobby Marks, along with information from RealGM’s official transactions log, here’s a breakdown of the new TPEs, sorted by value. Not all of these exceptions have been confirmed with 100% certainty, but this is what we believe they’ll look like. These TPEs will expire if they’re not used by February 8, 2019:
- Utah Jazz: $3,708,883 (Joe Johnson to Kings)
- Portland Trail Blazers: $3,505,233 (Noah Vonleh to Bulls)
- Memphis Grizzlies: $3,028,410 (James Ennis to Pistons)
- Note: If the Grizzlies didn’t use their existing $3.4MM TPE to absorb Brice Johnson‘s salary, this TPE would instead be worth $1,697,250.
- Toronto Raptors: $2,451,225 (Bruno Caboclo to Kings)
- Utah Jazz: $2,386,864 (Rodney Hood to Cavs)
- New Orleans Pelicans: $2,300,000 (Dante Cunningham to Nets)
- Brooklyn Nets: $1,889,040 (Rashad Vaughn to Pelicans)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: $1,471,382 (Dwyane Wade to Heat)
- Detroit Pistons: $1,471,382 (Willie Reed to Bulls)
- Los Angeles Lakers: $1,471,382 (Larry Nance to Cavs)
- Chicago Bulls: $1,429,818 (Jameer Nelson to Pistons)
- Detroit Pistons: $1,331,160 (Brice Johnson to Grizzlies)
- Miami Heat: $1,312,611 (Okaro White to Hawks)
- Washington Wizards: $1,312,611 (Sheldon Mac to Hawks)
- Dallas Mavericks: $1,107,552 (Devin Harris to Nuggets)
- Note: This TPE is not listed by RealGM.
Our list of outstanding traded player exceptions has been updated, and will be adjusted if necessary once we’re able to confirm all the TPEs listed above.
If you have any corrections or questions, please let us know in the comment section.
4:14pm: The Heat have officially acquired Wade from the Cavs, the team announced today in a press release. Miami sent out a protected 2024 second-round pick in the deal, waiving A.J. Hammons to create a spot on the roster for Wade.
“We feel that Dwyane can help our team in so many ways,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “It is a beautiful moment for us, for the city and for the fans. All of us embrace it in the manner that we want to win and that’s why we brought Dwyane back home. We look forward to having a great end of season run as we fight for the playoffs.”
12:14pm: Dwyane Wade is coming home to Miami, confirms Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The Cavaliers will receive a heavily protected second-round pick in return (Twitter link). ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith reported the deal earlier today, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
The trade is part of a day-long shakeup in Cleveland as the Cavs ship out veterans in favor of younger, more athletic wing players. Wojnarowski reports that the front office offered Wade a chance to return to the franchise where he spent his first 13 seasons and worked out a deal when he accepted.
The Cavaliers’ coaching staff was planning a reduced role for Wade going forward and he had been campaigning for a return to Miami behind the scenes, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link).
Wade signed a one-year deal with Cleveland in late September after agreeing to a buyout with the Bulls. He began the season as a starter, but asked to come off the bench after three games and became an effective leader of the second team. However, the return of Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose from injuries created a logjam in the backcourt and Wade’s role become less defined.
It’s not clear how much of a future he will have at age 36 on a relatively young Heat team. Regardless, it’s an excellent public relations move for Miami to erase the memories of a bitter breakup in the summer of 2016.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
4:10pm: The Heat have officially waived Hammons, according to a team release.
[RELATED: Heat to acquire Dwyane Wade from Cavaliers]
Hammons’ roster spot has been in jeopardy for much of his time with the Heat, ever since he was included in last offseason’s Josh McRoberts trade with the Mavericks for salary purposes. While the 25-year-old lasted over half the season on Miami’s roster, he didn’t appear in a single regular season game for the team. In 2016/17, Hammons averaged 2.2 PPG and 1.6 RPG in 22 games (7.4 MPG) for Dallas.
Hammons’ $1,312,611 salary for 2017/18 will remain on the Heat’s cap, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers. Miami will also be on the hook for the big man’s $1,544,951 salary for 2018/19, though the Heat could spread that cap hit across three seasons if they want to.
This will be a return to Miami for Babbitt, who spent the 2016/17 season there. He signed a one-year, veterans’ minimum contract with the Hawks this summer and is averaging 6.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 37 games.
White is in his second season with the Heat, but has appeared in just six games, spending most of the year in the G League. He also has a minimum deal, so salary matching won’t be a problem.
A larger trade could be in the works as Miami continues to talk with Atlanta about Marco Belinelli, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Belinelli would give the Heat another wing shooter after losing Dion Waiters for the season.