Nikola Jovic

Eastern Notes: Harrell, Heat, Jovic, Nets, R. Williams

The Heat could have benefited from signing free agent big man Montrezl Harrell this summer, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel opines in an “Ask Ira” mailbag. While the Heat could still theoretically sign him, they re-signed Udonis Haslem last week, which means they can’t add another player to their regular season roster without going into the luxury tax.

Winderman believes the Heat could use Harrell’s size and energy. However, his inability to shoot from distance could make him an awkward fit, especially when playing alongside a non-shooter in Bam Adebayo.

Harrell split the 2021/22 season with the Wizards and Hornets, averaging 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game. The Heat lost starting power forward P.J. Tucker to the Sixers last month and have a number of undersized options they can play at the four, including Jimmy Butler and Caleb Martin. Other East contenders such as the Celtics and Bucks start bigger lineups featuring Al Horford and Giannis Antetokounmpo, respectively, at power forward.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

International Notes: Jokic, Antetokounmpo, Yurtseven, Pokusevski, Jovic

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is looking forward to representing Serbia on the basketball court for the first time in three years, writes Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops. The two-time MVP will join the national team for a pair of 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifying games, hosting Greece August 25 and traveling to Turkey August 28.

“I feel great, similar to every time I reunite with these guys. I just met some of them,” Jokic said in advance of the Serbian team’s training camp. “We are preparing, we just started and we will see how far we can go. Up first are the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and the goal of helping Serbia qualify to the World Cup.”

Jokic also plans to participate in EuroBasket next month, and he could return for both the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Olympics if Serbia qualifies. Jokic cited a special pride in being able to play for his home nation.

“It means a lot, I talked with my family, it’s a totally different feeling when you play for the national team,” Jokic said. “I felt different when I came here than when I go to Denver.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Another MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his brother and Bucks teammate, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, are in Athens waiting to join the Greek team for training camp, per Aris Barkas of EuroHoops. An agreement limits NBA players to 28 days of preparation before major FIBA tournaments and 14 days before the Olympics. The other Antetokounmpo brothers, Alex and Kostas, are already training with Greece. New Mavericks signee Tyler Dorsey is under the same restrictions as Giannis and Thanasis and can’t start training until Thursday.
  • Heat center Omer Yurtseven elected not to join the Turkish national team’s training camp in Italy, but he didn’t inform team officials of his decision or seek permission in advance, according to a EuroHoops report. The decision was made by Yurtseven rather than the Heat, the story adds, as the rookie center chose to stay in Miami and focus on preparing for training camp. The report notes that Yurtseven was suspended for eight games in 2018 for skipping national team activities without providing notice.
  • Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski and Heat rookie Nikola Jovic were denied permission by their respective teams to join Serbia for EuroBasket and the World Cup qualifiers, Askounis states in a separate story. Hawks forward Bogdan Bogdanovic is also unavailable because he’s recovering from knee surgery.

Heat Notes: Lowry, Crowder, Yurtseven, Jovic

Heat point guard Kyle Lowry still won’t reveal the specifics of the family situation that caused him to miss nine games in January and February, and he tells Doug Smith of The Toronto Star that it hasn’t been fully resolved. Lowry said the issue continued to be a distraction even after he resumed playing.

“It’s definitely something that kind of derailed my whole season and kept me derailed for a long time,” Lowry said. “Still to this day, it’s still something I deal with every single day, I actually got a phone call just now about it. It’s life, life happens and you just have to continue to get better and focus on the things you can control and try to help as best you can because at the end of the day, I can’t do this or that, all I can do is go to people who can help me and hopefully I can help them and we can kind of work together and collaborate.”

Lowry was in Toronto today to take part in the Nick Nurse Foundation golf tournament. Even though he chose to leave the Raptors in free agency last summer, Lowry has remained friendly with his former coach.

“Nick’s a friend of mine and we got closer and closer and as the years went on we trusted each other more and more,” Lowry said. “To keep a relationship with a guy like him, obviously I’m here for a reason, he’s such a great man, he’s helped me in my career tremendously and all I can do is try to give back as much to him as he’s given to me.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • Miami would be interested in bringing back versatile forward Jae Crowder, but there’s no easy way to match salaries in a trade with the Suns, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Crowder, who is entering the final year of his contract, raised some eyebrows this week when he tweeted“Change is inevitable.. Growth is optional.!! I believe its time for a change… I wanna continue growing!” Although Crowder doesn’t specify that he’s talking about basketball, the message has led to speculation that he wants to play somewhere else.
  • Omer Yurtseven will have to improve defensively to earn regular playing time, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Winderman adds that the Heat view Yurtseven as a backup to starting center Bam Adebayo, but he’ll have to compete with Dewayne Dedmon for those minutes.
  • First-round pick Nikola Jovic won’t play for the Serbian national team in the World Cup qualifier or EuroBasket, according to Winderman (Twitter link). Jovic will focus on preparing for Miami’s training camp, which starts in late September. Yurtseven is also expected to bypass international competitions with Turkey (Twitter link).

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Martin, Jovic, Herro

The Heat‘s reluctance to part with Bam Adebayo has effectively taken them out of the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, at least for now, sources tell Barry Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami could decide to revisit a potential Durant swap later on if something changes, but for now the team plans to move forward with its current roster.

According to the authors’ sources, the Nets haven’t shown much interest in the Heat’s trade offers, which haven’t included Adebayo or Jimmy Butler. That means any deal would likely have to be built around Tyler Herro and draft assets. Miami can currently offer two unprotected first-round picks and as many as three pick swaps. The team could free up another first-rounder by negotiating with the Thunder to lift lottery protections on the 2025 pick owed to OKC.

Another hurdle is that Adebayo is ineligible to be dealt to Brooklyn as long as Ben Simmons remains on the roster because of the designated rookie extension rule. Even if the Heat change their minds about moving Adebayo, a third team would have to be found to take Simmons in order for the deal to work.

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat plan to have Caleb Martin take over the role of P.J. Tucker, who signed with the Sixers in free agency, Jackson and Chiang add. Martin only played 22% of his minutes at power forward last season, but the organization is willing to see how he can handle the position before exploring a trade.
  • First-round pick Nikola Jovic has received an invitation to try out for the Serbian national team ahead of EuroBasket 2022, Chiang writes in a separate story. Summer League was challenging for the 19-year-old, who had up-and-down performances and dealt with a quad contusion. “I’m still learning,” he said. “I just need a little time.”
  • The Heat say they’re content with the current roster, but the offseason moves shouldn’t be considered complete until they reach a contract extension with Herro, says Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Herro would become almost untradeable for the rest of the season once an extension is in place due to the “poison pill provision.” That would virtually eliminate any chance for a significant trade to acquire Durant or Donovan Mitchell.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Yurtseven, Jovic, Durant

Though the Heat are still making an effort to trade for a star like Nets forward Kevin Durant or Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, the team could eventually consider pivoting to pursuing a solid veteran like John Collins, Myles Turner, or Harrison Barnes in their frontcourt, says Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Winderman writes that Miami’s front office has had conversations about potentially including young All-Defensive center Bam Adebayo in a deal for Durant, but not everyone in the Heat brain trust is on board with offloading the 25-year-old big man for the injury-prone 33-year-old veteran.

Winderman adds that the team could trade up to three future first-round selections at present, but could theoretically acquire more to include in a deal if it opted to move other young players like Tyler Herro, Max Strus, Omer Yurtseven, Gabe Vincent, or Nikola Jovic in separate trades with other clubs for additional draft picks.

There’s more out of South Beach:

  • The Heat will probably wait to move on to Plan B trade targets until they have exhausted their possibilities for adding Durant or Mitchell, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. According to Chiang, Miami most likely will want to keep its coffers open should another superstar become available via trade.
  • Following summer training obligations with their respective national teams, Heat big men Omer Yurtseven and Nikola Jovic will have to hop directly to a training camp with Miami, with possibly as little as a two weeks off in between, notes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman wonders if the Heat are hurting themselves as they await a potential Durant deal. With league activities essentially on hold until Durant is moved, Miami finds itself at something of a crossroads. The team currently lacks a true NBA rotational power forward after having let P.J. Tucker walk in free agency and thus far not opting to re-sign Markieff Morris.

Heat Notes: Days, Jovic, Highsmith, Allman

After spending most of Summer League with the Spurs, Darius Days was surprised to get a two-way contract from the Heat, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Days, who averaged 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in three games in Las Vegas, said he didn’t work out with Miami prior to the draft.

“It definitely caught me by surprise,” he said. “It was an exciting feeling. They gave me the call and I was excited. I was just trying to play my way into something this past week.”

An undersized big man at 6’7″, Days compares himself to P.J. Tucker, who just left the Heat to sign with the Sixers. Days, who said he’s versatile enough to play anywhere in the front court, has studied Tucker’s game to understand what makes him effective.

“He can rebound the ball, he can guard bigger guys,” Days said. “He definitely switches and plays great defense. He talks on defense. He just does the little things. I mean, he’s a champion for a reason. So I like to model my game after the little things that he does.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • First-round pick Nikola Jovic saw limited playing time in Las Vegas because of a quad contusion, but he appears to be a long-term project rather than someone who will help right away, Chiang states in the same story. Jovic, who recently turned 19, had one great shooting game in the California Classic, but struggled with his shot in the other three Summer League games that he played.
  • Haywood Highsmith showed promise throughout Summer League and could be a part of the Heat’s rotation next season, Chiang adds. Highsmith only has a $50K guarantee on his contract for now, but his versatility on defense may make him valuable enough to keep on the roster.
  • Kyle Allman Jr. finished off the Heat’s Summer League schedule with a 26-point outing Saturday night as Miami rallied past the Clippers, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The 24-year-old guard was the team’s best offensive player this summer, Winderman adds, but he already has a contract in France and may earn more money by returning to Paris Basketball.

Heat Notes: Garrett, Mulder, Yurtseven, Jovic

Saturday’s Summer League contest marked the first game in more than six months for Heat guard Marcus Garrett, who underwent season-ending wrist surgery in January, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Garrett recently received medical clearance to start playing again and didn’t take part in any of Miami’s games in the California Classic.

Garrett earned a two-way contract last summer and appeared in 12 games before the injury. He’s an effective defender with a 6’10” wingspan, but Chiang says he’ll have to prove he can contribute enough on offense to earn another chance with the Heat.

“It was great to see him back there,” Summer League coach Malik Allen said. “When he gets between those lines, he’s a tough competitor and obviously he lifted us up. It was just great to have him back.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • After struggling with his three-point shot in California, Mychal Mulder bounced back with a 5-of-8 performance in his first game in Las Vegas. Mulder currently holds one of Miami’s two-way slots, but Chang notes that he’ll have to show he can be a reliable outside shooter to remain on the roster. “He was due,” Allen said. “But the big thing with Mike was, he really did make a lot of great plays. That’s what I just kind of kept stressing to him. I know he wanted some shots to fall, but he’s made some really great plays for us.”
  • The Heat aren’t sure if Omer Yurtseven will see any Summer League action because of a quad injury he suffered with the Turkish national team, Chiang adds in a separate story. Yurtseven, who’s entering the final season of his two-year contract, flew to Las Vegas after helping Turkey win a World Cup qualifier last Sunday. “I do want to play. That’s the reason I’m here,” he said. “I’m just here to pretty much get better and I think playing is the best way to do it.”
  • Miami is still experimenting with the best Summer League role for first-round pick Nikola Jovic, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel.

Heat Notes: Durant, Highsmith, Jovic, Summer League

The Heat could try to improve their bargaining power in a potential Kevin Durant trade by negotiating with the Thunder to remove protections on the 2025 first-round pick owed to OKC, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

If Oklahoma City agrees to accept the pick with no lottery protection, Miami will be free to offer Brooklyn first-rounders in 2023, 2027 and 2029 without violating the Stepien rule. Teams aren’t permitted to trade draft picks that are more than seven years away, but the Heat could also include pick swaps in 2024, 2026 and 2028.

Chiang says the Heat are in a “holding pattern” as they wait for the next step in the Durant drama. They haven’t made any moves since reaching agreements to re-sign Dewayne Dedmon and Victor Oladipo shortly after free agency began Thursday afternoon.

The Nets can’t acquire Bam Adebayo as long as Ben Simmons is on the roster and the Heat would prefer to keep Jimmy Butler, so any trade offer would have to be built around Tyler Herro. Chiang notes that Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry are sufficient to match salary, while inexpensive players such as Gabe Vincent, Max Strus and Omer Yurtseven could be added to sweeten the offer. It’s unlikely that would be enough to interest the Nets, who reportedly have received interest in Durant from more than half the league.

League rules prevent Miami from trading Dedmon or Oladipo until December 15, while first-round pick Nikola Jovic, who signed his rookie contract today, can’t be included in a trade for 30 days.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Haywood Highsmith received a $50K guarantee on his 2022/23 salary by remaining on the roster past Friday’s deadline, Chiang adds. The second-year small forward joined the Heat in late December on the first of three 10-day contracts, then was given a standard deal in March.
  • Highsmith has an opportunity for a larger role next season after P.J. Tucker‘s departure to Philadelphia, Chiang notes in a separate story. Highsmith, who scored 11 points in today’s Summer League opener, is working to model himself after Tucker as a three-and-D player.
  • Jovic is still adjusting to the speed of the NBA game and that was evident in today’s debut, per Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. He made just 1 of 6 shots and grabbed three rebounds in 21 minutes of action. “I know he wanted to play better,” said Summer League coach Malik Allen. “I just think it was moving really fast. I told him just to keep his head up. He was frustrated. That learning curve is going to continue to be there for him.”

Heat Sign Nikola Jovic

First-round pick Nikola Jovic has officially signed with the Heat, the team announced in a press release.

The Serbian forward was the 27th pick in this year’s draft. Assuming he receives the full 120% of the rookie scale, which is standard, Jovic will earn approximately $2.2MM in his first season and $11.5MM across the four-year deal.

The 19-year-old averaged 11.7 points per game this season while playing for Mega Basket in Europe’s ABA League. He was named the league’s top prospect for the just-completed season and was Junior ABA League MVP in 2021.

Jovic is making his debut with Miami in today’s Summer League California Classic in San Francisco.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Jovic, Heat, Tucker, Magic

The Wizards have two primary objectives entering free agency, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic: Re-signing Bradley Beal, and finding a starting-caliber point guard. Beal is expected to decline his $36.4MM player option to become an unrestricted free agent, and he indicated in both March and May that he was leaning toward re-signing with Washington.

The Wizards can offer Beal a five-year contract worth a projected $247MM+, while the most a rival team could offer him in free agency would be a projected $183.6MM over four years.

On the point guard front, Robbins notes that Washington won’t have any cap space entering free agency, so the team will be limited to the mid-level exception, projected to be worth $44.5MM over four years, and the bi-annual exception, projected to be worth $8.3MM over two years. Given the relatively modest tools at the Wizards’ disposal, Robbins believes finding a trade or a sign-and-trade (Tyus Jones?) might be the only viable pathways to finding a legitimate starter at point guard.

Some trade options that Robbins mentions include Monte Morris and Malcolm Brogdon, among others. He also says the Wizards could try to pry away a member of Orlando’s crowded backcourt, listing Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs as players worth calling about.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • The Heat selected Serbian forward Nikola Jovic with the No. 27 pick of the draft, and Pat Riley, the team’s president of basketball operations, said he views Jovic as a well-rounded offensive player with room for growth. “I think the overall skillset. When you talk about a player being a complete player, that’s what we’re talking about. How good is that completeness will come with development. What is a complete player, someone who can pass, who can dribble, someone who can run pick-and-rolls and shoot the ball. He’s a long-range shooter, a mid-range shooter. He scores well with the layup. He’ll take the ball and dunk it over somebody. He has those kinds of offensive skills that he can get better at. And then he’ll found out some new things that he’ll be taught where he’ll say, ‘Wow, I can do these things.’ That comes with development,” Riley said, per Heat.com.
  • Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald explores the options the Heat have to try and re-sign P.J. Tucker. Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra spoke glowingly of Tucker after the season ended, so clearly the Heat value Tucker, but he just turned 37 and the Sixers are considered the frontrunner to sign him in free agency, according to Marc Stein. Chiang writes that if Miami offers Tucker the full mid-level exception, as the Sixers are rumored to be offering, the Heat would be hard-capped at the tax apron of $155MM, and they’d be limited in what they could offer restricted free agent Caleb Martin. Chiang says trying to sell Tucker on his starting role and the success he had with the team might be one route to take, mentioning a slight discount using his Non-Bird Rights (about $26.5MM over three years). However, Tucker has shown an inclination to earn the most he possibly could previously in free agency, so that seems unlikely to work.
  • The Magic‘s draft secrecy could provide long-term benefits, according to Terry Gilliam Jr. of The Orlando Sentinel. The Magic kept their intention to draft Paolo Banchero hidden until right before he was selected No. 1 last Thursday, which was all according to plan. “It helps you do business better,” president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman told Gilliam. “Whatever partners you’re trying to engage with — whether it’s an agent, another team or whomever — they trust you more if they know you can be discreet with managing your information. It’s a smart way to do business. It’s a part of our strategy of success.”