Nik Slavica

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Hornets, Hawks, Workouts

The Heat have the flexibility to sign Gordon Hayward and create room for another top-level free agent, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. A report Friday said the Jazz consider Miami a legitimate threat to sign the free agent forward, who is coming off the best season of his career. In response to a reader’s question, Winderman notes that the Heat can give $30MM to Hayward and open up another $23MM or so by trading Tyler Johnson, Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow. However, he cautions that the team tried to find a taker for McRoberts’ contract last summer, and that was before he missed more than half a season with injuries. If Miami were able to pull off such a scenario, it would be in the range for players such as Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap or the combination of Zach Randolph and a re-signed Dion Waiters.

There’s more this morning out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have limited resources to work with as they try to improve on this year’s 36-46 record, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. With six players who have salaries topping $12MM, Charlotte is already over the salary cap for next season, leaving GM Rich Cho with little to offer prospective free agents. The team will have its mid-level exception [worth about $8.4MM] and its bi-annual exception [about $3.3MM], but neither will be enough to add a difference maker. The Hornets own both of their picks at 11 and 41, but the team’s draft record has been mixed in recent years. Trade assets are limited, with only Kemba Walker able to bring a significant return. Bonnell cites depth, defense and closing out games as areas in which Charlotte needs to improve.
  • Duke’s Amile Jefferson is among six players who will work out for the Hornets today, Bonnell relays in a separate story. He will be joined by Antonio Blakeney of LSU; Torian Graham of Arizona State; Kyle Kuzma of Utah; Derrick Walton of Michigan; and Nigel Williams-Goss of Gonzaga. Several more workouts are planned for next week.
  • Kuzma held a second pre-draft workout for the Hawks on Thursday, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Joining him at that session were Dwayne Bacon of Florida State, Nigel Hayes of Wisconsin and Nik Slavica of Croatia.

Bam Adebayo, Jaylen Johnson Staying In Draft

A pair of college underclassmen who were previously said to be testing the draft waters have decided to forgo their remaining NCAA eligibility by hiring representation, per various reports.

One of those players is Kentucky freshman big man Bam Adebayo, who will sign with an agent and won’t return to the Wildcats, sources tell Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports. Adebayo is considered likely to be drafted in the first round, so it makes sense that he’ll keep his name in the draft, joining former UK teammates De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, and Isaac Humphries among this year’s early entrants going pro.

Also going pro is Louisville junior forward Jaylen Johnson, who announced that he won’t return for his senior season. “I will miss my teammates and coaches, but it is really important that I help out my mom and family,” Johnson said in a statement. “I’m going to work incredibly hard to give it my best shot. I’ll be rooting for the Ville next year.”

Here are several more early entrants who are declaring for the draft in advance of this year’s deadline:

Eastern Notes: Smart, Teague, Draft

Hawks point guard Jeff Teague relayed today that he played the entire 2015/16 campaign with a torn patellar tendon in his knee and that he “could barely jump or stop,” Mike Mazzeo of writes. Teague won’t require surgery this offseason and is expected to be ready to go when training camp commences, Mazzeo adds. “He is kind of, for lack of a better word, managing his knee,” coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said. “I don’t know if it is knees and ankles. I would say it is hard to know what he shares and what he doesn’t. I think he was relatively healthy and he was good so many nights and he is such a good player. I do think he was managing it a little bit like a lot of NBA guys do.”

Teague, 27, appeared in 79 games in 2015/16, averaging 15.7 points and 5.9 assists and shooting 43.9% from the field and 40% from 3-point range. He has one year remaining on his current deal and is a potential trade candidate this offseason. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Celtics held two group workouts today, Chris Forsberg of tweets. The first group was comprised of Alex Caruso (Texas A&M), Juan Hernangomez (Spain), Damian Jones (Vanderbilt), Thon Maker (Australia), Georgios Papagiannis (Greece) and Rasheed Sulaimon (Maryland), Forsberg notes. The second group included Robert Carter (Maryland), Stefan Jankovic (Hawaii), Shawn Long (Louisiana-Lafayette), Mamadou Ndiaye (UC Irvine), Nik Slavica (Croatia) and Troy Williams (Indiana).
  • The Heat have granted the Grizzlies permission to interview assistant coach Keith Smart for a position on the staff of former Miami assistant David Fizdale, who was recently named Memphis’ head coach, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel relays. Memphis was denied permission to interview Heat assistant coach Dan Craig, who is expected to take an elevated position on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff next season, Winderman adds.
  • The Hornets have workouts scheduled for Friday with Cat Barber (NC State), Nathan Boothe (Toledo), Jake Layman (Maryland), Isaiah Miles (St. Joe’s), Tyler Ulis (Kentucky) and Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV), Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).