Heat Rumors

Heat Notes: Paul, Beal, Expiring Contracts, Waiters

The Heat and Thunder never came close to making a deal involving Chris Paul, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Miami was pursuing Russell Westbrook before Oklahoma City agreed to trade him to Houston last week. The focus shifted to a possible deal that would bring Paul to the Heat, but they don’t have the same level of enthusiasm about acquiring him that they did for Westbrook. (Twitter link). A report today indicates that Oklahoma City is pessimistic about its chances of moving Paul and may keep him on the roster for the entire season.

The Heat were only willing to take on the three years and $124MM left on Paul’s contract if OKC met certain demands, including the return of Miami’s draft picks for 2021 and 2023, Jackson adds. The Heat are reluctant to absorb that much salary because it would restrict their flexibility for the summer of 2021.

There’s more from South Florida:

  • Miami’s next chance to add a star could come if Bradley Beal turns down an extension offer from the Wizards, according to Jackson (Twitter link). He suggests the Heat will be among the teams contacting Washington about Beal if they don’t reach an agreement. Beal will become eligible for the extension, which would pay him $111MM over three seasons, on July 26. Jackson notes that the Wizards have turned aside all trade offers involving Beal so far, but he will become a free agent in 2021 without the extension.
  • Some of the Heat’s expiring contracts don’t look so bad after this summer’s spending and may prove to be valuable trade assets, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson both have 2020/21 player options, but Winderman states that Olynyk might opt out of his $13.2MM salary in view of this year’s market. Johnson is more likely to opt in for $16MM because of his age. Goran Dragic and Meyers Leonard have expiring deals with no options and are expected to be trade chips.
  • Frustrated by jokes over his body last season, Dion Waiters showed off his leaner, stronger physique in an Instragram post Monday, as relayed in an ESPN story. Waiters admits to being in a “dark place mentally & physically” during the past season as he tried to shake off the effects of an ankle injury.

Latest On Chris Paul, Heat

The blockbuster trade between the Thunder and Rockets that will send Russell Westbrook to Houston and Chris Paul to Oklahoma City has yet to be technically finalized, but OKC’s head of basketball operations Sam Presti continues to explore potential destinations for Paul.

Although the Heat appear to be the most likely suitor for Paul, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald continues to be skeptical of Miami’s level of interest in the veteran point guard. According to Jackson, the Heat are listening to the Thunder and won’t rule anything out, but they’re not actively pursuing CP3.

Appearing on SportsCenter on Monday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst outlined some of the obstacles in the way of a deal between the Heat and Thunder, as Chris Grenham of NESN.com relays.

“When you talk about [Paul] potentially going to the Miami Heat, which is his preference, one thing I’ve been told in the talks; the fact that the Thunder hold the two of the Heat’s first-round picks in the future — unprotected 2021, protected 2023 — makes this a difficult conversation because the Heat want those picks back,” Windhorst said (video link). “The Thunder have expressed an interest in giving one of those picks back, but they would want another pick farther off into the future.

“So I do think that these two teams have a lot to talk about, but because of those picks, it’s something that could get complicated, and the Thunder have let it to be known they are in no hurry.”

In his analysis of the potential trade discussions between the two clubs, Jackson conveyed a similar sentiment, suggesting that the Heat would want their draft picks back from the Thunder and cautioning that he wouldn’t expect Presti to be on board with that. Jackson also speculated that the Heat might want Paul to agree to decline his 2021/22 player option to help the club maintain future cap flexibility — that would be a lot to ask of the nine-time All-Star, whose option will be worth $44.2MM.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad notes (via Twitter), the Thunder acquired two first-round picks by swapping Westbrook for Paul. If Oklahoma City were to surrender two first-rounders to move Paul, the club wouldn’t really be coming out ahead in terms of assets, and would have little to show for giving up its former MVP. Presumably, the Thunder will be prepared to hang onto Paul into the season if Miami (or another team) isn’t willing to meet their asking price.

While the Heat still look like the best potential fit for Paul, there are so many complicating factors involved – including both teams’ cap and tax concerns – that it’s hard to imagine Miami and Oklahoma City quickly bridging the gap and agreeing to terms. It will be interesting to see if the Thunder and Rockets finalize their part of the trade this week, or if they continue to hold off on making it official in case it can be turned into a three-team deal.

Southwest Notes: Westbrook, Hartenstein, Rabb, Ball, Grizzlies

Loyalty and friendship were a big part of the equation in the Rockets’ acquisition of Russell Westbrook, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports. The Thunder wanted to grant Westbrook his preferred destination once OKC decided to go into full rebuild mode. His friendship with James Harden proved vital, according to Iko, and put Houston over the top compared to the Heat, the other main bidder for Westbrook. The Rockets’ front office believes the Westbrook and Harden pairing will work out, especially since they’ll be surrounded by shooters, a luxury that Westbrook didn’t have with the Thunder.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets reserve big man Isaiah Hartenstein will pass on the FIBA World Cup this summer in order to focus on next season, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. Hartenstein, a 21-year-old 7-footer, informed the German national team that he has prioritized his NBA career. “I will need to prove I can belong here,” he told Urbonas.
  • Power forward Ivan Rabb and the Grizzlies have mutually agreed to push back his contract guarantee deadline to mid-October, Michael Wallace of the team’s website tweets. Rabb appeared in 49 games with Memphis last season, including 13 starts, averaging 5.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG. The 2017 second-round pick’s $1,618,520 salary for next season was due to be guaranteed today. He has a partial guarantee of $371,758.
  • New Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball is expected to be cleared for full contact in two weeks, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Ball was shut down in March due to an ankle injury.
  • The aftermath of the Grizzlies’ busy offseason shows the vision of the front office, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Memphis has a younger core to build around and has acquired future assets to accelerate the process.

Heat Sign Forward Kyle Alexander

The Heat have signed forward Kyle Alexander, according to a team press release. It’s an Exhibit 10 contract, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

Alexander will participate in training camp and likely be ticketed to the team’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls.

Alexander played eight summer league games for the Heat in Sacramento and Las Vegas, averaging 4.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG in  15.9 MPG.

The 6’11” Alexander went undrafted out of Tennessee. He started as a senior, averaging 7.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 1.7 in 23.8 MPG.

The Heat have also signed forward Chris Silva and point guard Jeremiah Martin to similar contracts.

Duncan Robinson's Partial Guarantee To Increase To $1MM

The Heat don’t intend to waive Duncan Robinson today, tweets Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops. Keeping Robinson on the roster will ensure that the partial guarantee on his minimum-salary contract increases from $250K to $1MM. Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald confirms the news, noting (via Twitter) that Robinson now appears very likely to make Miami’s regular season roster for 2019/20, barring a trade.

The Heat have more contract decisions to make starting on August 1, when the partial guarantees for Kendrick Nunn and Yante Maten are both set to increase. Those decisions will be important, given Miami’s hard-cap constraints for the ’19/20 league year.

Latest On Bradley Beal

The Wizards have publicly maintained that they have no interest in trading All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal. But if Beal opts not to ink a three-year, $111MM extension expected to be offered later this month, things may change, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

Despite Beal’s reported interest in the aforementioned extension, there is growing sentiment around the NBA that the extension is not a done deal and that Beal will likely not remain in Washington for the entirety of his career. As Buckner reports, one well-placed person within the NBA has predicted that Beal is “out of there.”

Two of the factors that lead those in the know, including several NBA executives, to surmise that Beal may now be interested in moving on are the Wizards’ ostensible rebuilding efforts and the lack of permanent leadership at the top of the organization.

The Wizards let promising point guard and restricted free agent Tomas Satoransky leave in free agency, and the team has perhaps signaled it wants to go younger by acquiring seven players with one or fewer years of NBA service this summer, including first-round pick Rui Hachimura.

Additionally, more than 100 days have now passed since the Wizards parted ways with Ernie Grunfeld, and the open president of basketball operations position remains a hot topic around the league, with one Western Conference senior executive saying it would be hard to predict Beal’s future until the team’s leadership is settled.

If Beal decides not to sign an extension, it will force Washington into the same conundrum that other teams have recently faced, and as Buckner notes, when a star player does not sign an extension, it usually ends with a break-up between player and team (see the Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis and the Celtics and Kyrie Irving as two recent examples). “If he doesn’t accept [the extension],” said a rival general manager, “it will be a big blow to Washington.”

Given Beal’s talent, there will be multiple franchises interested in his services should the Wizards change course and put the 26-year-old All-Star on the trading block. But it would likely take an organization with draft picks and young prospects intriguing to the Wizards to pull off a potential trade for Beal. Buckner notes the Nuggets, Heat, and Timberwolves as franchises that fit that criteria.

Cavaliers Notes: Love, Smith, Iguodala, Bolden

The Cavaliers aren’t making an effort to deal Kevin Love, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. On the surface, Love appears to be a prime trade candidate. He’s nearly 31 on a rebuilding team, is coming off toe surgery that limited him to 22 games last season and has a four-year, $120MM extension that’s about to kick in.

However, Cleveland doesn’t view Love’s contract as burdensome. A five-time All-Star, he’s easily the team’s best player if he can stay healthy and provides a positive role model for a young roster. New coach John Beilein wants to keep Love around because he’ll take pressure off his teammates to develop quickly.

Cavs management will listen to offers for Love, but it would take a formidable deal to move him anytime soon. Fedor sees the Heat as a possibility because they are searching for a second star to team with Jimmy Butler and have both young players such as Tyler Herro, Meyers Leonard, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow who would interest Cleveland, plus big contracts in James Johnson, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters to help match Love’s $28.9MM salary. Fedor expects the front office to hold onto Love for a while and reassess its options closer to the trade deadline.

There’s more out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Fedor:

  • Tomorrow is the new guarantee date for J.R. Smith, but it can be pushed back to August 1 if the Cavs can’t work out a trade. The original date had been June 30, but Smith agreed to an extension last month in exchange for an increase in guaranteed money from $3.9MM to $4.37MM. Smith’s trade value can be counted at the full $15.68MM because he signed his contract before that rule was changed, but Cleveland hasn’t been able to find any takers for the 33-year-old guard. Management has been surprised by the lack of interest in Smith, Fedor adds, believing its offers in salary-dump situations were better than the ones that were accepted. The Cavs have also been “shocked” by some of the bad contracts teams are trying to get them to take.
  • The Cavaliers tried to obtain Andre Iguodala from the Warriors, and sources tell Fedor they asked for less than the future first-rounder and cash that Memphis received for taking on Iguodala’s $17.1MM contract. However, Golden State wanted to create a large trade exception and saw that as more valuable than the cap relief Smith would have provided. Cleveland was also involved in talks to facilitate the Butler trade by taking Maurice Harkless from the Trail Blazers, but he wound up with the Clippers, who received a 2023 first-rounder from Miami.
  • Former Duke big man Marques Bolden is receiving strong consideration for a two-way contract. The Cavaliers believe he never got a full chance to display his talents in college and can develop into an effective NBA center. “In college you don’t have space,” said Summer League head coach Antonio Lang. “Here you have space and he can create space if he continues to roll hard. Everything you look for in a big he has, he just has to be more efficient with his footwork and learn the game more. That comes with practice and time. He’s more suited for the NBA game.”

Heat Notes: Herro, Paul, Robinson, Maten

Tyler Herro has been making a strong impression in Summer League, enough that Miami was reluctant to include him in trade talks for Russell Westbrook, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Herro, who signed his rookie contract earlier this week, was the 13th player taken in the draft. Known mostly as a scorer at Kentucky, Herro has displayed the potential to become a multi-dimensional talent.

A league source tells Jackson that Herro’s Summer League performance has surpassed the expectations of Heat officials, especially in 3-point shooting, passing and ball-handling. He posted a 19.5/4.3/3.8 line during the team’s stay in Las Vegas and shows signs of becoming a rotation player as a rookie.

“If we need a guy that can handle, get us into offense, if we need him to be pick-and-roll, if we need him to come off catch-and-shoots, he’s shown he can do it all, and we feel comfortable in any of those spots,” said Eric Glass, who coaches the Heat’s Summer League squad.

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Thunder’s offers in a potential Chris Paul trade haven’t been “enticing enough” to spark the Heat’s interest, Jackson tweets. Miami has been mentioned as the possible next destination for Paul, who is headed to Oklahoma City in a deal with Houston. Heat officials will continue to listen if the offers improve, Jackson adds, but they’re not actively pursuing the 34-year-old point guard.
  • Even though Miami’s Summer League season ended today with an overtime playoff loss, Duncan Robinson helped his quest to stay on the roster with a 26-point performance, Jackson notes in a separate story. The guarantee on Robinson’s salary for the upcoming season will jump from $250K to $1MM if he remains on the roster through Monday. Jackson states that it seems likely Robinson will be kept, but he hasn’t received any assurances. His full $1,416,852 salary won’t become guaranteed until the league-wide guarantee date of January 10.
  • Yante Maten and Kendrick Nunn also have non-guaranteed deals, and the Heat’s hard-capped status may work against them, Jackson adds. Miami is less than $1MM below its $138.9MM cap and can’t add any players, such as veteran free agent Udonis Haslem, without waiving someone first. Maten has a $100K guarantee that will rise to $150K if he is kept through August 1, then another $150K if he makes the opening-night roster. Nunn will also receive a $150K guarantee on August 1, rising to $450K if he’s still around for the first game.

Latest On Chris Paul

After the Rockets and Thunder agreed on a trade that sends Russell Westbrook to Houston and Chris Paul to Oklahoma City, the latter’s future remains a big question. Paul wants to play for a contender and after the Thunder parted ways with Westbrook and Paul George, it’s clear the franchise has entered a rebuilding stage.

Once the trade becomes official, the Thunder will likely explore trade scenarios for Paul. To this point, the Heat appear to be the leading suitor – if not the only suitor – for Paul’s services.

“The conversation with Miami was ongoing prior to the deal that got Chris Paul to Oklahoma City,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Friday’s edition of Get Up! “He’s 34 years old, he wants to be on a team that has playoff aspirations.

“The market for Chris Paul is going to be small. But Miami is at the top of that list. They’d like to get a deal done as soon as they can.”

Wojnarowski noted that Miami does not have much cap space or draft assets to give up in a potential Paul trade. However, pairing Paul with their prized offseason acquisition, Jimmy Butler, could make the Heat a more serious threat in a wide-open Eastern Conference.

However, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) relayed that Miami is doing its “due diligence” on Paul, but not aggressively pursuing the veteran.

It remains to be seen where Paul winds up for the 2019/20 season, but as Wojnarowski noted, OKC swung the deal with the intention of flipping the nine-time All-Star.

“Their hope in getting this deal done with Chris Paul was that he doesn’t play a game in a Thunder uniform,” Wojnarowski said.

Westbrook Notes: Thunder, Knicks, Rockets, Heat, CP3

After reaching deals to send Paul George to the Clippers and Russell Westbrook to the Rockets – with a Jerami Grant trade thrown in the middle for good measure – the Thunder have completed one of the speediest tear-downs in NBA history, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Given the club’s lack of playoff success in recent years, that fresh start was needed, according to Mannix, who adds that it’s hard to imagine that Oklahoma City could have gotten more in return for its two stars.

While the Thunder – who haven’t gone through a rebuilding process since moving to Oklahoma City – didn’t necessarily want to start that process now, some members of the organization think it was “necessary, if not overdue,” per ESPN’s Royce Young, who notes that the team privately viewed the 2019/20 season as its “last, best chance at winning a title.”

As Young details, George’s trade request came as a shock, but it could also be viewed as a gift, since the circumstances surrounding it gave the Thunder tremendous leverage in their negotiations with the Clippers. Westbrook didn’t try to change George’s mind, sources tell Young, and less than a week later, Oklahoma City was able to accommodate an exit path for the former MVP as well.

The Rockets were Westbrook’s clear-cut favorite choice, a league source tells Brett Dawson and Michael Lee of The Athletic, and the longtime Thunder point guard had a significant voice in where he landed. While he also appeared open to being traded to the Heat, trade talks between Oklahoma City and Miami had quieted by Thursday, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

We already rounded up several Rockets-related notes on Thursday’s blockbuster trade agreement that will land Westbrook in Houston and Chris Paul in Oklahoma City, but here are a few more details worth passing along:

  • Although the Thunder likely wouldn’t have sent Westbrook to a lottery team anyway, rebuilding clubs with a hole at point guard (or a general need for star talent) expressed little interest in giving up any real assets of value for him, sources tell Zach Lowe.
  • In the immediate aftermath of the George trade, Westbrook viewed the Knicks as a potential landing spot, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. It’s not known whether New York was on the list of preferred destinations that Westbrook ultimately provided the Thunder, but if OKC was focused on making a move sooner rather than later, it’s a moot point — the Knicks couldn’t have made a deal until December 15. It’s also not clear if New York had more than “lukewarm” interest in the triple-double machine, Begley adds.
  • An individual with knowledge of the talks tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that Westbrook first broached the topic of a possible trade not long after the Thunder were eliminated from the playoffs in the spring. Presumably, if George hadn’t made his own trade request, Westbrook wouldn’t have pushed to be dealt either.
  • Westbrook is intrigued by the possibilities that Mike D’Antoni‘s floor-spreading offense could create for him with the Rockets, a source tells Brett Dawson and Michael Lee.
  • Having previously reported that the Heat‘s unwillingness to include multiple young players in their offer for Westbrook was a roadblock, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald says the Thunder’s desire to include Andre Roberson‘s unwanted expiring contract in a deal with Miami was another obstacle. While Chris Paul has been mentioned as a possible alternative for the Heat, Jackson sounds skeptical that Miami would do such a deal without getting back at least one draft pick and dumping unwanted contracts, since acquiring Paul’s huge contract would compromise the team’s ability to pursue star players in future offseasons.