Luke Babbitt

Heat Notes: Richardson, Newman, Okafor, Babbitt

The Heat had calls from teams wanting to trade for Josh Richardson this summer, but Miami isn’t looking to move him, according to Manny Navarro and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The organization wants Richardson to take a larger role on offense, with team president Pat Riley telling him that he should be able to average 18 points per game.

Richardson put up a career-best 12.9 PPG last season while shooting .375% from 3-point range. The authors say Richardson has been concentrating on shooting off the dribble and creating his own shot during offseason workouts.

Teams may have been trying to take advantage of the Heat’s desire to shed salary, but Richardson has an affordable deal that will pay him nearly $42MM over the next four seasons, including an $11.6MM player option in 2021/22. If he is able to increase his scoring numbers, Richardson’s contract might look like a bargain.

Navarro and Jackson pass along some more Heat info in the same piece:

  • Miami wasn’t swayed by Malik Newman‘s experience with the Lakers when the team opted to sign him this week. The 21-year-old guard inked a two-way contract with L.A. at the beginning of July, but spent less than three weeks with the team before being waived. A source said the Heat were “intrigued” with Newman because of his outside shooting prowess and his performance with Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. At 6’3″, Newman will have to learn to play point guard to succeed in the NBA, the source added. His contract is believed to be a training camp deal.
  • Even though the Heat have roster openings, they never considered trying to sign free agent center Jahlil Okafor. The No. 3 pick in the 2015 draft agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with the Pelicans today after disappointing performances with the Sixers and Nets. Miami only has 12 players with guaranteed contracts, along with a two-way deal for Duncan Robinson, but the team believes it has enough centers with Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo backing up Hassan Whiteside.
  • Veteran forward Luke Babbitt, who finished last season in Miami after a February trade from the Hawks, continues to examine offers in Europe. Babbitt, 29, is hoping to find a place where he can get more playing time after barely being used by the Heat. He appeared in 13 games after the deal, averaging 11.2 minutes per night, and played just three total minutes in the postseason.

Cavaliers Talking To Luke Babbitt, Trevor Booker

The Cavaliers have reached out to free agents Luke Babbitt and Trevor Booker as they try to fill three open roster spots, according to Joe Vardon of

Cleveland saw its salary commitments for 2018/19 take a huge dive when LeBron James signed with the Lakers, but the Cavs still have a payroll of about $109.5MM. That’s over the $101.9MM salary cap, but about $20MM below the tax apron with the full mid-level exception ($8.6MM) and bi-annual exception ($3.3MM) still available.

Babbitt, 29, split last season between the Hawks and Heat. A career 40% shooter from 3-point range, Babbitt’s production fell after a February trade to Miami and he was barely used in the playoffs. Several European teams have expressed interest in signing him if he doesn’t land another NBA contract.

Booker, 30, spent parts of last season with the Nets, Sixers and Pacers. A rugged power forward, Booker had his best season in 2016/17, when he averaged 10.8 PPG and 8.0 RPG for Brooklyn.

No deal is considered imminent with either player, Vardon adds.

One of the Cavaliers’ open roster spots may be reserved for Rodney Hood, who had trouble adjusting to his new role after coming to Cleveland at the trade deadline but is still a valued prospect. He remains part of the plan for the future, a team source told Vardon. Hood is a restricted free agent, and the Cavs can match any offer he receives.

The source adds that Cleveland is “exploring all options” with its resources, including a $5.8MM trade exception from last summer’s Kyrie Irving deal that will expire August 22.

In addition, Vardon relays that there’s nothing new on a rumored trade that would send Kyle Korver to Philadelphia in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. The Cavs may see if they can get more for the 37-year-old marksman before dealing with the Sixers.

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.

Heat Notes: Wade, Babbitt, DPE, Jones

The Heat are missing three shooting guards because of injuries, but coach Erik Spoelstra won’t consider using Dwyane Wade as a starter, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Just as he did in Cleveland before being traded, Wade has become the leader of the reserves and his coach doesn’t want to take him out of that role.

“I want [Wade] to get as comfortable with that second unit as possible,” Spoelstra said. “That to me is a dynamic, game-changing lineup that I want them to continue to gain confidence in, get more comfortable with.”

Wade agrees with Spoelstra’s decision, saying he needs to get used to working with his new teammates. He is averaging 13.6 points in seven games since returning to Miami.

There’s more Heat-related news to pass on:

  • The team still hasn’t determined the best fit at power forward to complement center Hassan Whiteside, Jackson adds in a separate story. Justise Winslow, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have all been tried in the starting lineup, but none has excelled in that role. Luke Babbitt is getting the start tonight, and the Heat were 21-14 last season with him in the starting lineup. However, Spoelstra doesn’t seem to consider him a long-term solution. “Luke is a guy we all like having on the floor, not for big minutes,” Spoelstra said. “But he helps your best players out there. He’s smart. He knows how to play off of guys. He knows how to be in the right spot defensively. But I am not looking for anything from last year. This team is totally different.”
  • The Heat are missing two important ingredients to attract players who agree to buyouts, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Most free agents on the buyout market are looking for guaranteed playing time on a team with the potential to make a long postseason run. The Heat already have a crowded roster and currently hold down the final playoff spot in the East with a 32-30 record. Miami has nine days before its $5.5MM Disabled Player Exception expires, but Winderman doesn’t expect the team to use it. He adds that the Heat are considering Rodney McGruder, who recently returned from surgery on a stress fracture in his left tibia, to be their buyout addition.
  • Two-way player Derrick Jones is active tonight, cutting him down to just five NBA days left on his 45-day limit, Winderman tweets. Once he hits that mark, Jones can’t be with the Heat until the G League season ends, unless he is signed to a rest-of-the-season contract or a 10-day deal.

Hawks Trade Luke Babbitt To Heat For Okaro White

1:31pm: The trade is now official, according to a press release from the Heat. Atlanta intends to waive White, according to Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

11:15am: The Hawks will trade veteran forward Luke Babbitt to the Heat for Okaro White, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

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.

Hawks Notes: Babbitt, Dedmon, Tanking

The Hawks were in the bottom half of the league in three-point shooting last season, but the team’s front office believes the addition of Luke Babbitt will help them improve in that area, as KL Chouinard of relays.

“Luke is a proven veteran and adds another experienced player to our locker room,” GM Travis Schlenk said of Babbitt. “He is one of the premier long-range shooting big men in the league, has played a variety of roles over his career and will contribute to our team.”

Babbitt, who inked a one-year deal with Atlanta last week, said he’s excited to play under coach Mike Budenholzer.

“When I got the call, the first thing I thought of was Coach Bud. I’ve always respected what he did from afar,” Babbitt said. “I’m really excited to play for him and be with this young group of guys.”

Here’s more from Atlanta:

  • Babbitt continued to praise the Hawks‘ system, citing the ball movement and the unselfishness in how the players operate on the floor, as KL Chouinard passes along in the same piece. The small forward believes he can assist the team’s playmakers with his ability to space the floor. “Dennis [Schroder] and (Kent Bazemore], they’re the attackers on this team,” Babbitt said. “It’s something I’m really looking forward to this season: creating space and opportunities for them.”
  • Atlanta pried Dewayne Dedmon away the from the Spurs in free agency and Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders believes the signing could have major upside. Dedmon, who’s on a two-year, $14MM deal, didn’t play basketball until he was a junior in college, meaning he only has been on the court for slightly over seven years.
  • While the Hawks will likely take a step back this season, tanking is something that interests coach Budenholzer, Grizzard writes in the same piece. The scribe adds that the goal of the front office is to retool while remaining competitive.

Southeast Notes: Richardson, Wizards, Babbit

The contract extension that 2015 second-round pick Josh Richardson is eligible for with the Heat would value him similarly to NBA role players Matthew Dellavedova and Cristiano Felicio, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes.

Considering that Richardson is an established high character rotation piece already familiar with the Heat’s system, such an investment wouldn’t exactly be excessive.

Through two seasons with the Heat, Richardson has averaged 8.4 points on .374 shooting from beyond the arc. His length and ability to contribute on the defensive end make him one of the team’s most well-rounded assets.

As we wrote earlier this week, Richardson may be wise to wait until the June 2018 deadline before making his decision. If he doesn’t accept the four-year, $42MM extension with the Heat he’ll be a restricted free agent come July 1, 2018.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:


Hawks Sign Luke Babbitt To One-Year Deal

AUGUST 9: The Hawks have officially signed Babbitt, the team confirmed today in a press release.Luke Babbitt vertical

AUGUST 4: The Hawks have reached an agreement to sign free agent forward Luke Babbitt, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Babbitt will receive a one-year contract from Atlanta.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders reports (via Twitter) that Babbitt’s one-year deal will be worth $1.9MM. The minimum salary in 2017/18 for a player with Babbitt’s experience is $1,974,159, so it sounds like it’ll be a minimum pact.

Babbitt, 28, spent last season with another Southeast team, averaging 4.8 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 68 games for Miami. Although Babbitt’s numbers were modest, he started 55 games for Miami and knocked down 41.4% of his three-point attempts, playing a role for the club during its 30-11 second-half run.

Few players have been as reliable from outside in recent years as Babbitt, who has made an impressive 43.8% of his long-distance attempts since the start of the 2014/15 season. He’ll bring that shooting touch to an Atlanta team that waived Mike Dunleavy Jr. earlier this summer.

Babbitt was one of five notable free agent forwards we identified as potentially intriguing investments earlier this week. The other four, including Dunleavy, remain on the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Five Notable Forwards Still Available In Free Agency

While most of the biggest names still available on the free agent market are restricted free agents, there are several noteworthy unrestricted players who are free to sign outright with any NBA team. Over the last several days, we’ve identified a number of those players, examining five notable guards, wings, and big men who remain unsigned.

Today, we’ll close out our look at those notable remaining free agents by focusing on a handful of forwards who could appeal to NBA clubs. Some of these players could be considered wings or bigs, but we’ve split them off into their own category — these are frontcourt players who probably shouldn’t be relied on as the man in the middle of any lineup that’s not unusually small.

The Raptors, Hawks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Spurs, and Hornets are among the teams that could potentially use a little more frontcourt depth, though those aren’t the only clubs who may be suitors for the players listed below.

Here are five notable free agent forwards to keep an eye on:

  • Dante Cunningham — An eight-year veteran, Cunningham has been a solid rotation player for most of his career, but recently added a new wrinkle to his game. After making just two three-pointers in his first six seasons, Cunningham has made 126 over the last two years, shooting an impressive 39.2% from long range in 2016/17. The apparent lack of interest in the 30-year-old so far suggests teams may be a little skeptical of his newfound range, but if he can keep it up, he’d make for an intriguing stretch four. The Knicks were linked to Cunningham in May and the Jazz were said to have interest last month, though it’s not clear if either team is still in on him.
  • Michael Beasley — While he never lived up to his pre-draft billing, Beasley – a former second overall pick – continued to provide value as a scorer off the bench in Milwaukee last season. In 56 games for the Bucks, the veteran forward averaged 9.4 PPG with a career-best .532 FG% and .419 3PT%. The lack of recent updates on our player page on Beasley suggests that he hasn’t been the subject of any substantial rumors this summer, which is a little surprising. I can think of several teams that could use a player like him in their second unit.
  • Luke Babbitt — Babbitt started 55 games for the Heat last season, but only averaged 15.7 minutes per contest, so his role was limited. Still, few players around the NBA have been more reliable three-point shooters in recent years. Babbitt has made an impressive 43.8% of his long-distance attempts since the start of the 2014/15 season. Miami was reportedly monitoring the former first-round pick earlier in the free agent period, but with Kelly Olynyk now in the mix for the Heat, a reunion may not be cards — Babbitt is said to be weighing other options.
  • Boris Diaw — A longtime contributor in San Antonio, Diaw joined the Jazz last season and saw his production dip — his PPG (4.6), FG% (.446), and 3PT% (.247) marks were all among the worst of his career. Diaw is 35, so we shouldn’t necessarily count on him to bounce back strong in 2017/18, but if he still has something left in the tank, he’s worth a minimum salary investment. Diaw’s ability to distribute the ball is somewhat rare for a forward, and he can fit into a wide range of lineups. The Raptors may be one possibility for him.
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr. — Like Babbitt, Dunleavy could provide immediate help for a team in need of some outside shooting, but like Diaw, his age is a concern; he’ll turn 37 in September. Nonetheless, Dunleavy continued to make threes at a consistent rate in 2016/17, converting 39.6% of his outside attempts despite averaging a career-low 15.9 minutes per game. The Timberwolves were identified as a possible suitor for Dunleavy earlier in the offseason, and even though that report is over a month old, Minnesota still makes sense as a landing spot. Tom Thibodeau‘s club could use another shooter or two, and Thibodeau coached Dunleavy in Chicago.

Note: Restricted free agents aren’t noted here, since they’re not free to sign with any team, but Nikola Mirotic and JaMychal Green are among the noteworthy RFA forwards still on the market.

Heat Notes: Richardson, Clark, Rose, Winslow

Starting Thursday, the Heat will be able to offer a contract extension to third-year guard Josh Richardson, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. The offer can be as much as $43MM over four years, and Richardson would have until the start of the regular season to accept it. If he doesn’t, he will become a restricted free agent next summer.

Richardson has been valuable when he’s been in the lineup, but he was limited to 53 games last year because of injuries. Knee surgery forced him to miss training camp and the first four regular season games, then ankle problems sidelined him in midseason.

Jackson expects the Heat to offer at least $30MM over three years, with a player option for the final season. Given the decline in money going to mid-level free agents this summer, Richardson might find that offer appealing.

Here are some more Heat-related notes, courtesy of Jackson:

  • Miami seems likely to hold onto its $4.3MM mid-level exception for the buyout season. The Heat like former Warrior Ian Clark, who once played for Miami’s summer league team, but he’s looking for $8MM, well out of their price range. There’s also not an obvious role for Clark in an already-crowded backcourt.
  • The Heat also didn’t have playing time to give Derrick Rose, which is why they didn’t try to top Cleveland’s $2.1MM offer. Miami’s front office had interest in Rose, but the team is already committed to Goran Dragic as its starter as point guard.
  • Justise Winslow held a press conference this week and said his injured right shoulder will be fully healed by training camp. The second-year forward played just 18 games last year and had season-ending surgery in early January.
  • Free agent big man Luke Babbitt, who was acquired from the Pelicans in a trade last summer, is examining his options for next season. He made $1.227MM last year.
  • Willie Reed probably wouldn’t have opted out of his contract with the Heat if he knew he wouldn’t be getting a raise. The 27-year-old center agreed to a minimum-salary deal with the Clippers worth $1.5MM for one year, roughly the same amount he would have gotten in Miami. Reed said L.A. wants him to provide a defensive presence as a backup to DeAndre Jordan. “I felt like it was a comfortable position and it was kind of similar to the role that I played in Miami,” Reed said, “so it wouldn’t be difficult for me to adjust.”