Precious Achiuwa

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Achiuwa, Robinson

Heat star Jimmy Butler is eligible for a contract extension this summer, and according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, it’s likely he will seek a four-year, maximum-salary deal worth $181MM. The 32-year old wing is currently under contract through the 2022/23 season, but a four-year extension would align his contract with star center Bam Adebayo‘s recently-signed max extension, as both would expire following the 2025/26 season. Such an extension would pay Butler $50MM in 2025/26, when he’d be 36 years old.

Following a disappointing first round sweep at the hands of the Bucks, the Heat will be looking to add to their roster this summer. When asked if he would be taking a role in roster decisions, Butler said: “I don’t know. I’ve got to be active… Me myself, Bam, hell probably Tyler (Herro), some other guys, as well — they’re going to ask and we have to be honest. But at the end of the day, that’s not our job either.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • With the Tokyo Olypmics postponed until this summer, several Heat players will have important decisions to make, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Precious Achiuwa and Gabe Vincent are both potential members of the Nigerian national team, while Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo are in the player pool for the U.S. team and Omer Yurtseven is likely to represent Turkey. But with a short training camp this season, the possibility of missing out on yet another summer of training with the Heat represents a major decision, especially for young players such as Achiuwa and Vincent. The choice between Summer League and representing his nation in the Olympics is one Achiuwa isn’t rushing. “Right now,” he says, “I have time on my hands to kind of just weigh my options and see where I go from there.”
  • Not only do the Heat not have a pick in this year’s draft, but they have the fewest tradable future picks of any team in the NBA, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. As a result of trades for players such as Butler, Goran Dragic, and Victor Oladipo, a 2024 second-round pick is the only draft asset they have that’s available to be traded over the next seven drafts.
  • In a Q&A for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Ira Winderman explains why Adebayo and Butler should be considered untouchable in trades, details the fallacy of the “Leastern Conference” idea, and discusses whether adding a three point shot should be the primary focus of Adebayo’s summer.
  • With the 2020/21 season in the rearview mirror, Winderman graded each team member’s performance, as well as sharing his thoughts for their futures in Dade County. In regards to Duncan Robinson‘s impending restricted free agency, Winderman views $15MM per season as a reasonable cutoff point.

Heat Notes: Olympics, Dedmon, Robinson, Haslem

Nine Heat players spoke to reporters today as part of the team’s end-of-season media availability, and many of those players intend to represent their countries in international play this summer, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald details.

Nigeria, one of the eight countries to have already clinched its spot in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, has talked to Precious Achiuwa about playing this summer, but he has yet to make a final decision. Teammate Gabe Vincent will train with Nigeria and hopes to make the Olympic roster.

Nemanja Bjelica, meanwhile, plans to play for Serbia at the Tokyo Olympics, while Omer Yurtseven – who signed with the Heat at the end of the season – intends to be part of the Turkish team as the club looks to secure an Olympic berth in next month’s qualifying tournament.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Veteran center Dewayne Dedmon said that he’d like to return to the Heat next season, but added, “That’s up to the people upstairs.” While Miami’s front office would probably reciprocate Dedmon’s interest, given how he played down the stretch, he’ll only have Non-Bird rights, limiting the team’s ability to give him much of a raise beyond the veteran’s minimum, as Jackson notes.
  • Asked about his priorities in free agency, Duncan Robinson offered the following response: “First and foremost, a fit, a place I can really feel comfortable. Winning is a priority for me. And also a business and there’s an opportunity to take care of people that I love.” Robinson will be a restricted free agent, so the Heat will have the ability to match if he signs an offer sheet.
  • Udonis Haslem remains undecided on whether he’ll retire or return to the Heat for 2021/22, but he made it clear he doesn’t take his spot on the roster for granted, as Jackson writes. “I don’t have an offseason. I’m 40 years old. If I have an offseason, I might as well retire,” Haslem said. “Straight from the season to back in the gym. I’m calling Bam (Adebayo); his (butt) is coming with me. I’m calling Precious. He’s coming with me.” Haslem added that he doesn’t have interest in coaching, but suggested he wants to eventually own part of a franchise, according to Jackson.

Eastern Notes: Celtics, Vucevic, Heat, Pacers, Wizards

One of the NBA’s most reliable trade-deadline traditions is hearing after the fact which big-name players the Celtics came close to acquiring. Although Boston was active at this year’s deadline, adding Evan Fournier in one deal and moving Daniel Theis in another, the team didn’t let that annual tradition fall by the wayside.

League sources tell Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe that the Celtics were a finalist in the Nikola Vucevic sweepstakes, having included multiple first-round picks in their offer to Orlando before the big man was sent to Chicago.

Additionally, Himmelsbach reports that the Celtics offered a first-round pick and a young player (believed to be Aaron Nesmith) to Orlando for Aaron Gordon, and were prepared to increase that offer, but the Magic accepted Denver’s offer before Boston had a chance to do so.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Another post-deadline tradition? Teams insisting they didn’t offer players whose names were repeatedly mentioned in trade rumors. The Heat did that today, issuing a statement stating that they never offered Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and Precious Achiuwa in any deals. “They were asked for, but an offer was never made,” the team said, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. While the Heat’s reluctance to part with Herro was widely reported, at least one of Robinson or Achiuwa – and perhaps both – would’ve had to be included in any viable package for Kyle Lowry, so saying they were “never offered” is likely just a matter of semantics.
  • Although they were the subject of several trade rumors prior to the deadline, the Pacers were one of the few teams to stand pat. According to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required), that inactivity can be attributed in large part to the team’s belief in Caris LeVert. Indiana, encouraged by the early returns, is satisfied letting LeVert get back up to speed and seeing how he meshes with the club’s current core.
  • Addressing the Wizards‘ acquisition of Daniel Gafford, general manager Tommy Sheppard cited the youngster’s shot-blocking ability and athleticism, as Ava Wallace of The Washington Post relays.

Heat Notes: Butler, Silva, Trade Deadline, Vučević

Heat wing Jimmy Butler, a five-time All-Star, has been having an MVP-level impact on Miami’s success when available this season, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Butler has led the way during the team’s recent 13-4 tear, which has propelled Miami from a 7-14 record to its current 20-18 mark, good for the No. 4 seed in the East.

Butler is averaging team bests in points (22.5 PPG), assists (9.1 APG), steals (2.1 SPG) and plus-minus (plus-117) during this 17-game turnaround. Though missing 14 games early may keep Butler from actually netting MVP honors, his impact on one of the best teams in its conference should certainly help cement his status as an All-NBA player for the 2020/21 season. The club is 16-8 when Butler plays and 4-10 when he sits.

There’s more out of South Beach:

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.

Latest On James Harden

James Harden made some late-night headlines on Tuesday, declaring in the wake of a second consecutive blowout loss to the Lakers that he feels the Rockets are “just not good enough” and that he doesn’t believe the situation in Houston can be fixed.

Harden’s comments represent an escalation in his efforts to force his way out of Houston, but the Rockets’ front office has remained determined to have its asking price met, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who reiterates that the team is seeking a young franchise cornerstone, along with a collection of draft picks and/or young talent.

A source close to the situation tells MacMahon that the Rockets have had active trade talks with “more than a half dozen teams” and have kept in touch with Harden about those options. The former MVP has continually received assurances from team owner Tilman Fertitta that he’ll be traded, per ESPN, but it seems those assurances haven’t included a specific timeline — and Harden seems to be losing patience.

Here’s more on the situation:

  • Harden’s desire for a trade was reinforced following Sunday’s blowout loss to the Lakers, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who says the 31-year-old is eager to maximize his window to contend for a championship and no longer believes that can happen with the Rockets.
  • While Harden has expanded his list of preferred landing spots, sources tell Iko that the Nets remain atop that list. The general belief has been that Brooklyn would offer a package headed by Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, but one league executive who spoke to Joe Vardon of The Athletic on Tuesday believes that if a trade between the Nets and Rockets happens, it would have to be centered around Kyrie Irving.
  • Tuesday’s performances from Tyler Herro (34 points), Duncan Robinson (26 points), and Precious Achiuwa (17 points and 13 rebounds) helped reaffirm why the Heat are unwilling to send all their talented young players to Houston in a package for Harden, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson recently reported that Miami is open to offering “a couple” of their young players and a future first-round pick for Harden, but the Rockets want significantly more than that.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Harden, Bradley, Richards, Anthony

When they were exploring a possible James Harden trade before the start of the season, the Heat were open to including “a couple” of their young players and their 2025 first-round pick in a package for the star guard, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. However, the Rockets‘ asking price was significantly higher.

According to Jackson, even if the Heat had offered Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala, and first-round picks in 2025 and 2027 (along with Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk for salary-matching purposes), it’s not clear that would have been enough to satisfy the Rockets.

The Heat reportedly pulled out of Harden discussions on December 21. Jackson writes that team president Pat Riley thinks highly of Harden, but would only be willing to make a deal for the Rockets star at “a price that’s palatable to him and the organization.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Avery Bradley‘s defense has been as strong as advertised, and he’s also making an impact on offense in his first season with the Heat, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Bradley’s play in the early going has impressed his teammates, as well as head coach Erik Spoelstra. “Avery is a guy that can play in any system,” Spoelstra said. “As long as it’s a contending team, he fits. He’s a really good basketball player. He’s a winner. And he’s a two-way player, a legit two-way player.”
  • Rookie Hornets center Nick Richards has been ruled inactive for today’s game against the Hawks due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, the team announced (via Twitter). It’s not clear how long those protocols will keep Richards out of action, but it shouldn’t have an impact on Charlotte’s rotation, as he has logged just 11 total minutes so far this season.
  • The Magic have a spotty player development over the last decade, having set the franchise back years by failing to get the most out of the likes of Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, and others, according Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who examines how the team is looking to avoid repeating those failures with 2020 first-rounder Cole Anthony.

Heat Notes: Bradley, Achiuwa, Butler, Bench

Heat guard Avery Bradley made the most of his opportunity on Christmas Day, recording 12 points, four assists and two steals in the team’s first win of the season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

This was Bradley’s first action with Miami, who signed him to a free-agent contract last month. His pesky defense was notably effective against Pelicans guard J.J. Redick, holding the veteran shooter to just 1-of-7 from the floor.

“It’s something that just sort of happened,” Bradley said. “But this league is a league where you have to always be prepared. We’re professional athletes, and part of being professional is always staying ready.

“I knew if I got my opportunity, I was going to make the most of it and go out there and play as hard as I can and leave everything on the floor. And that was my goal, to play that way and live with any mistakes that I make.”

Bradley’s career has been predicated on hard-nosed defense, especially against smaller guards, though many wonder how productive he can be offensively. Should he continue playing as he did on Christmas, the 30-year-old would have a legitimate shot at becoming a regular rotation piece for the defending Eastern champs.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Heat rookie Precious Achiuwa is already impressing coaches and teammates alike during his first month in the NBA, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Achiuwa finished with 11 points off the bench on Friday, but the 21-year-old fouled out in just 19 minutes off the bench. Still, the Heat are enamored by his skillset, maturity and intangibles, envisioning him as a potential long-term fit next to Bam Adebayo.
  • Jimmy Butler exited Friday’s game early after experiencing stiffness with his injured ankle, Chiang writes in a separate article for the Miami Herald. Butler first sustained the injury against Orlando on Wednesday, attempting to play through it on Christmas. He managed to play 16 total minutes before exiting.
  • Miami’s bench could be exceptionally special this season, Chiang opines, noting how deep the team is for a second consecutive season. While the starting lineup still isn’t finalized, the Heat currently have Goran Dragic, Avery Bradley, Kendrick Nunn, Andre Iguodala, Kelly Olynyk and others all coming off the bench. The team’s depth played a key role in its success last season and could prove to be effective once again this year.

Heat Notes: Frontcourt, FAs, Achiuwa, Dragic, Olynyk

Based on their offseason moves, the Heat certainly don’t appear to be focusing on playing any smaller during the 2020/21 season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

As Winderman observes, the club drafted Precious Achiuwa with its first-round pick, re-signed Meyers Leonard and Udonis Haslem, extended Bam Adebayo, and didn’t trade Kelly Olynyk after he picked up his player option. Chris Silva is also back on a guaranteed salary, with undrafted free agent Paul Eboua vying for a two-way contract.

“I feel like it’ll work because we brought back a lot of skilled big men,” Adebayo said on Sunday. “All of us are versatile. When you got bigs that are versatile, that can help the team and help the guards do different things, it just makes our team better. … Then you have two of us out there on the court at the same time, it’s a big difference. I feel like us being so versatile at the big spot is going to help us out a lot this year.”

Despite the Heat’s size up front, the team is confident it’ll be able to comfortably adjust against any team playing small ball.

“Just because some of us are big men doesn’t necessarily mean we’re put in a box and, ‘Oh, man, if a team goes small, there’s nothing we can do about it,'” Leonard said. “No, no, we still have plenty of athleticism, plenty of versatility at the big position and all the way throughout our roster.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Discussing the Heat’s new free agent additions, head coach Erik Spoelstra referred to Avery Bradley and Maurice Harkless as “plug-and-play guys” and said the team has been fans of both players “for a while,” as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. “The way they play, they can fit in really in anybody’s system,” Spoelstra said of the two veteran wings.
  • Within that same Herald story, Spoelstra explained that Precious Achiuwa‘s improvement over the course of his freshman year at Memphis and a belief that his game will translate to the next level were factors in the Heat’s decision to draft him at No. 20. “His athleticism, his quickness, his fluidity, his ability to play multiple positions jumped off the screen,” Spoelstra added, per Chiang.
  • After beginning individual workouts last week, Heat point guard Goran Dragic was encouraged by how his left foot felt. A torn plantar fascia in that foot sidelined Dragic during the NBA Finals. “I just finished three straight hard practices, running, shooting,” he said, according to Chiang. “My foot reacted well, no pain, nothing. Just a little bit of stiffness in the morning and that’s it.”
  • While a $12.6MM guarantee was likely a major factor, Kelly Olynyk said this weekend that a desire for continuity following a short offseason also contributed to his decision to exercise his 2020/21 player option. “The way the league is going and the new season just jumped upon us, it just made sense to come back here to a familiar place and continue what we had,” Olynyk said, per Khobi Price of The Sun Sentinel.

Heat Sign Precious Achiuwa To Rookie Deal

The Heat have officially signed first-round pick Precious Achiuwa to his rookie contract, tweeting out a photo today that shows the rookie forward putting pen to paper.

The No. 20 overall pick in last Wednesday’s draft, Achiuwa signed for 120% of his rookie scale figure, the maximum possible amount permitted by the league, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). That’ll result in a $2.58MM first-year salary with an overall value of $12.51MM on his four-year contract.

[RELATED: Rookie Scale Salaries For 2020 NBA First-Round Picks]

In his first and only college season at Memphis, Achiuwa was one of the nation’s most impressive freshmen, averaging 15.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG, and 1.9 BPG while shooting 49.3% from the floor in 31 games (30.4 MPG). He was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

We’re tracking all of this year’s draft pick signings right here.