Precious Achiuwa

Southeast Notes: Heat Rotation, Suggs, Todd, Garrett, Haslem

The Heat‘s rotation could look pretty thin this season, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

After the main eight-man rotation of Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Dewayne Dedmon, there are a lot of question marks. Victor Oladipo is still recovering from his quad surgery, KZ Okpala has yet to prove himself as ready to play real minutes, and Udonis Haslem‘s status is up in the air.

The ability of at least one of Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, or Omer Yurtseven to break through will be crucial. Strus and Yurtseven have been two of the top performers in Summer League, and the Heat will be hoping their renowned player development program can turn them into immediate contributors.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Magic prize rookie Jalen Suggs will miss the remainder of Summer League with a sprained left thumb, according to a tweet from the team’s PR account. Suggs had an impressive Summer League, averaging 15.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.3 APG and 1.7 SPG while showcasing impressive scoring and defensive instincts. The move is a precautionary one, so it shouldn’t impact his status for training camp next month.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Instagram video) breaks down the contract signed by Isaiah Todd, the 31st pick in the draft for the Wizards. The four-year, $6.9MM contract will pay Todd $1.5MM in year one, about $600K more than the minimum. The first three years are guaranteed with a $2MM team option in year four. Marks adds it’s likely the team option is declined in year four in order to make Todd a restricted free agent. Keith Smith of Spotrac has the year-by-year breakdown here.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes that the Heat, in their offseason dealing, essentially chose the path that would allow them to sign Tucker, rather than keeping Precious Achiuwa and signing someone else (ie. Jeff Green) using the $4.9MM room exception. Jackson adds that Summer League standout Marcus Garrett is a top candidate for one of the Heat’s two two-way contracts.
  • Heat big man Udonis Haslem is still deciding what his future holds when he eventually retires from basketball, but is happy to continue his playing career for now, as Winderman writes. Appearing on teammate Duncan Robinson‘s podcast, Haslem said: “Miami is my home, it’s my city. Why not still be a part of what’s going on there and still be able to move the needle and impact and hopefully win more championships?” Haslem added that team ownership has been on his mind for a long time, and that he’s had many conversations with ex-teammate Dwyane Wade on the subject.

Atlantic Notes: McBride, Brown, Siakam, Achiuwa

The contract that rookie point guard Miles McBride signed with the Knicks covers three years, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Instagram video link). Marks reports that the first two seasons in the deal are guaranteed, while the third is a team option. The team used cap room to complete the signing.

McBride, 20, was selected with the No. 36 pick out of West Virginia. The 6’2″ guard was named to the All-Big 12 Second Team for the 2020/21 season, his sophomore year. During his final collegiate season, McBridge averaged 15.9 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.9 RPG, on a .431/.414/.813 shooting line.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Do-everything Nets guard Bruce Brown drew outside interest as a free agent but said that he always knew he wanted to remain in Brooklyn, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link). Brown, 24, opted to accept a one-year, $4.7MM qualifying offer from the Nets, and will be an unrestricted free agent next season. “I really didn’t pay it any mind, honestly,” Brown said of the decision to remain in Brooklyn, per Tom Dowd of BrooklynNets.com. “I thought everything would take care of itself. I really was just working out the whole time, and then when free agency started, I actually was on the plane back to New York. So I didn’t really talk to anybody until I landed. I’m just happy to be back. It’s a great fit. I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”
  • Appearing on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster downplayed ongoing rumblings about a potential impending Pascal Siakam trade. “Teams call on our players and we call on other teams’ players,” Webster said, per Steven Loung of Sportsnet (Twitter link).
  • New Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa, acquired as part of the sign-and-trade that sent point guard Kyle Lowry to the Heat, is excited to contribute however he can to a winning culture with Toronto, writes Neil Davidson of The Toronto Star“Rebounding,” Achiuwa said, explaining what he brings to the team. “Guarding multiple positions. Creating offense for my teammates with screens, pick-and-rolls. Passing the ball. Just whatever it takes to win basketball games. Getting loose balls… For me, it’s all about winning.” During his rookie season in Miami, Achiuwa averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 12.1 MPG after being selected 20th overall in the 2020 draft.

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Achiuwa, Dragic, Birch, TPE, Ujiri

There was some speculation leading up to free agency that Toronto would make an effort to re-sign veteran point guard Kyle Lowry, but comments made on Friday by the six-time All-Star and by Raptors general manager Bobby Webster suggested both sides felt the time was right to move on, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

“I think the direction Toronto is going in is they want to give the opportunities to (Fred VanVleet), Pascal (Siakam), OG (Anunoby), a couple young guys, the young draft picks they have,” Lowry told reporters. “They have some great core pieces. They’re in great hands and great shape. It was a situation for me where it was an opportunity to do something different… It’s time to turn the page in the book.”

Webster conveyed a similar sentiment: “You probably could see (during the 2020/21 second half) the direction the team was going in, and jumping up in the draft to get the fourth pick, philosophically, I think going young became kind of a more desirable path.”

Once they recognized Lowry would be moving on, the Raptors could’ve decided to let him walk in order to open up cap room to pursue a free agent. However, that path offered less certainty, especially if the team made an offer sheet to a restricted free agent (such as Jarrett Allen) not knowing whether it would be matched. The Raptors preferred to acquire Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa via a sign-and-trade with the Heat, Lewenberg writes.

“Precious is a huge part of this deal for us,” Webster said. “We really liked him last year in the draft so I think that was a huge get in the sense of a young player that we like and fits.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Throughout the week, there were rumors that Toronto may try to flip Dragic to a third team after acquiring him via sign-and-trade. Webster said on Friday that’s not Plan A. “Obviously, if we got an offer that was too good to refuse we’d listen but ultimately we want Goran here,” the Raptors’ GM said, per Lewenberg. “He’s happy to be here, obviously he’s been able to carve out a very nice career for himself. Talking to (team president) Masai (Ujiri), talking to everyone here, we’ve watched him a ton and I know a lot of people have seen him kill us. As a basketball player, as a vet, he provides a lot of value to us.”
  • After his new three-year deal with the Raptors was formally announced on Friday, Canadian center Khem Birch told reporters he was focused throughout free agency on returning to the team, as Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. “It feels like a dream come true,” Birch said. “It’s so surreal right now … just one of those free agencies where I knew where I wanted to go. I don’t even know what other teams were interested in me. I just wanted to come here regardless of the price or the years or anything. I just knew this was a great fit. I’m just happy I’m here.”
  • The Raptors will generate a traded player exception as a result of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade to Miami. It’ll be worth somewhere between $4.8MM and $7.7MM, depending on the specific structure of Lowry’s new contract, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
  • Speaking to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, Raptors chairman Larry Tanenbaum confirmed that Masai Ujiri‘s new vice chairman title won’t give him an ownership stake in the franchise, but said it reflects his standing in the organization. “I chair the Raptors, but it’s just a recognition that we’re really working together,” Tanenbaum said. “We’re partners.”
  • Tanenbaum added in the same interview that the team’s plan is to have Lowry retire as a Raptor down the road and to retire his number. “He will retire as a Raptor and his number will absolutely go up there,” Tanenbaum said. “The honor will be the first one (for the Raptors) and I love Kyle.”

Heat, Raptors Finalize Kyle Lowry Sign-And-Trade

The Heat have officially acquired point guard Kyle Lowry from the Raptors via sign-and-trade, Miami announced today in a press release. Toronto received point guard Goran Dragic and big man Precious Achiuwa in the deal.

Lowry was one of the first free agents to make a commitment when the negotiation period opened on Monday evening, but it took all week for the details of the sign-and-trade to be confirmed. Dragic and Achiuwa were always believed to be part of the deal, but there were rumors that Dragic would be flipped to a third team or that the Raptors would receive additional pieces. Ultimately, it’s just a two-for-one swap.

Lowry’s new, fully guaranteed contract with the Heat was initially reported to be worth $90MM over three years, but it’ll actually come in at $85MM, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Miami would’ve needed to include more salary in addition to Dragic and Achiuwa for matching purposes in order to accommodate that $90MM figure, notes Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Heat, who have been after Lowry since at least the trade deadline in March, will unite the six-time All-Star with his close friend Jimmy Butler, who has agreed to sign a lucrative new contract extension of his own with Miami.

While a guaranteed three-year, $85MM investment is a risk for a player who is entering his age-35 season, Lowry has championship experience and is an ideal fit on virtually any roster due to his ability to handle the ball, knock down outside shots, and provide strong defense. He averaged 17.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 5.3 RPG on .436/.396/.875 in 46 games (34.8 MPG) in his final season as a Raptor.

“Kyle Lowry is a great leader and an exceptional defender,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “As a point guard, he will bring important skills to run the offense, score the ball and defend with the very best.”

The Raptors, meanwhile, still could theoretically flip Dragic to another team in the coming days, weeks, or months. However, Marc Stein reported earlier today that Toronto has “resisted external interest” in the Slovenian guard from the Mavericks and other teams.

Barring further trades, Dragic will join the Raptors’ backcourt alongside Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, and Gary Trent Jr., while Achiuwa will battle for minutes in a frontcourt rotation that includes Khem Birch and Chris Boucher.

Trade Rumors: Kings, Siakam, Raptors, Dragic, Spurs, Markkanen

The Kings “definitely” have trade interest in Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, Sam Amick of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Deuce & Mo Podcast (video link).

There have whispers this offseason – particularly since the Raptors used the No. 4 overall pick to draft Scottie Barnes – that Siakam is available via trade, but Amick says the Kings have been waiting for clarity on just how willing Toronto might be to move him. Sacramento would likely pursue Siakam if given the chance, though it’s unclear how much interest the Raptors would have in possible trade chips like Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • It’s looking more and more like Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa – the two primary outgoing pieces in the Heat‘s Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade – will end up with the Raptors, at least for the time being, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. The Raptors are believed to be exploring flipping Dragic to a third team, such as the Mavericks, but apparently haven’t found a deal they like yet.
  • Dragic, for his part, offered the following update on Slovenian television on Tuesday, per Iztok Franko of Mavs Moneyball (Twitter link): I haven’t heard from Toronto yet, I’m still waiting for the news. Everything depends on the third team, we’ll have the news in the next few days.”
  • Before agreeing to acquire Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu in their DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade with the Bulls, the Spurs were interested in landing Lauri Markkanen via sign-and-trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on the latest episode of his Hoop Collective podcast. However, according to Windhorst, Markkanen sought a larger contract than the Spurs were comfortable offering, prompting the team to pivot to the veterans on expiring contracts. Windhorst believes there’s a “decent chance” Markkanen – a restricted free agent – will end up returning to Chicago.

Free Agency Rumors: Paul, Caruso, Birch, Green, Heat

The Pelicans offered Chris Paul a $100MM contract early in free agency, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on today’s episode of The Hoop Collective podcast. Windhorst believes the Pelicans’ offer helped convince the Suns to add a fourth year to their offer — that fourth year is not guaranteed, but it’s not clear if New Orleans’ offer would have been fully guaranteed either.

According to Windhorst, after new Pelicans head coach Willie Green tried to help recruit him, Paul entertained the idea for some time before ultimately committing to the Suns.

On the same episode of The Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne stated that Alex Caruso was willing to go back to the Lakers for three years and $30MM, but that the Lakers weren’t willing to higher than about $7MM per year for the veteran guard. Concerns about an exorbitant luxury-tax penalty factored into that decision, per Shelburne.

We have more free agency rumors:

  • Khem Birch could be nearing a return to the Raptors, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). Grange reports that there’s “growing momentum” toward the two sides reaching a deal. The 28-year-old center was extremely productive in his 19 games for the Raptors after coming over in a trade, and has turned himself into a solid starting center over the last couple seasons.
  • Add the Cavaliers to the list of teams interested in Danny Green, reports ESPN’s Jordan Schultz. Schultz also confirms, in a follow-up tweet, that the Lakers remain interested in a reunion with Green, which Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports previously reported. It doesn’t appear the Lakers will be able to offer Green more than the veteran’s minimum though.
  • Following their deal with Victor Oladipo, the Heat remain interested in a low-cost veteran guard who will be healthy at the start of the season, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), who names Lou Williams as a player who would “welcome” interest from the team.

Heat To Acquire Kyle Lowry, Re-Sign Duncan Robinson

The Heat will add Kyle Lowry in free agency via a sign-and-trade with the Raptors and will also re-sign Duncan Robinson, as Marc Stein reports (via Twitter). Both deals had been widely expected, and Lowry has confirmed on Twitter that he’s Miami-bound.

Lowry’s new three-year contract with the Heat will be worth approximately $90MM, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). All three years will be fully guaranteed, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

Robinson, meanwhile, has agreed to a five-year, $90MM contract with Miami, his agent Jason Glushon tells Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The deal includes an early termination option after year four.

The Heat have been after Lowry since at least the trade deadline in March. While they were unable to land the six-time All-Star at the time, they’ll add him to the mix now, beating out other rumored suitors such as the Mavericks, Pelicans, and Sixers. The move will unite Lowry with his close friend Jimmy Butler, who is expected to sign a lucrative new contract extension of his own.

While a three-year, $90MM investment is a risk for a player who is entering his age-35 season, Lowry has championship experience and is an ideal fit for virtually any team due to his ability to handle the ball, knock down outside shots, and provide strong defense. He averaged 17.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 5.3 RPG on .436/.396/.875 in 46 games (34.8 MPG) in his final season as a Raptor.

While the exact terms of the sign-and-trade that will send Lowry to Miami haven’t been reported, the expectation is that the deal will include Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa, with the Raptors perhaps rerouting Dragic elsewhere.

As for Robinson, he’s a career 42.3% shooter from three-point range, which put him in line for a long-term deal in the range of $16-18MM per year — that’s what sharpshooters Joe Harris and Davis Bertans received in free agency a year ago and the 27-year-old Robinson is a little younger than both players.

The Heat still have the mid-level exception at their disposal as they look for additional rotation upgrades around Lowry, Robinson, Butler, and Bam Adebayo.

Free Agent Rumors: Lowry, Caruso, Cavs, Trent, Batum, Bradley

The Pelicans are viewed as the most likely of Kyle Lowry‘s prospective suitors to guarantee a third year in their offer to the veteran point guard, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. However, it’s the Heat that are considered the current frontrunners to land Lowry.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms as much in his latest report, suggesting that the Heat are ready and willing to attach assets to Goran Dragic to entice the Raptors to accept a sign-and-trade offer, with Precious Achiuwa and draft picks among the pieces that could be in play. According to Wojnarowski, the Pelicans and Mavericks – rumored to be two of Lowry’s most aggressive suitors – are beginning to consider other options as they look for a starting point guard.

Here are a few more updates on free agents, with the start of the 2021 free agent period less than 24 hours away:

Heat Considered Frontrunners For Kyle Lowry

Chatter about the possibility of free agent point guard Kyle Lowry joining the Heat has increased significantly since the team announced this afternoon that it has picked up Goran Dragic‘s $19MM+ team option for 2021/22.

In the wake of the Dragic decision, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated (via Twitter) that the move was considered a possible precursor to a sign-and-trade deal that would send Lowry from the Raptors to the Heat, while Marc Stein (Twitter link) referred to Miami as the “favorite” to land the 35-year-old point guard.

Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) also hears that the Heat are viewed as the frontrunners for Lowry, and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald tweets that there’s “growing optimism” a deal will come together.

Meanwhile, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link) outlines a pretty specific scenario in which Dragic and Precious Achiuwa would be outgoing pieces in a sign-and-trade for Lowry, who would receive a three-year contract starting at about $26MM. Dragic would subsequently be bought out by the Raptors, Winderman adds. Technically, sign-and-trade discussions about a free agent aren’t permitted by rule until Monday night, but Winderman’s tweet sounds like more than just speculation.

Still, while momentum appears to be in Miami’s favor for now, we’re still 24 hours away from free agency and the Lowry sweepstakes certainly aren’t over yet. As Wojnarowski notes (via Twitter), the Raptors would have to be satisfied by the picks and/or young players they get for Lowry in order to accept a sign-and-trade deal, since they could open up a chunk of cap room by simply letting him walk.

The Pelicans, Mavericks, and Sixers all remain in the hunt for the six-time All-Star too, says Chiang. However, the Heat may be Lowry’s top choice for a handful of reasons, including his friendship with Jimmy Butler and his respect for the organization, per Jackson.

Eight Current NBA Players On Nigeria’s 12-Man Olympic Roster

After making some noise in the exhibition schedule by upsetting Team USA, Nigeria will be looking to become the first African men’s basketball team to win an Olympic medal. And they’ll be doing so with a roster that features eight current NBA players, along with one former NBA player.

Here’s the 12-man squad that will represent Nigeria at the Tokyo games, per the Nigeria Basketball Federation (Twitter link):

Achiuwa, Nwora, Okafor, Okogie, and Okpala are all on guaranteed contracts for next season with their respective teams. Metu and Oni are on non-guaranteed deals, while Vincent will be eligible for restricted free agency after finishing the season on a two-way pact. Udoh, a former sixth overall pick who just finalized a two-year deal with Italian club Virtus Bologna, has appeared in a total of 400 NBA games (regular season and postseason)

While the Nigerian squad isn’t exactly loaded with star power, it’s worth highlighting since it’s rare for any country besides Team USA to send so many current NBA players to the Olympics.

Australia’s team will have seven players who finished the season on NBA rosters, while Spain’s roster features 10 players with at least some NBA experience. But the U.S. team is the only other one in Tokyo that will feature at least eight current NBAers.