Rodney McGruder

Heat Notes: Whiteside, McGruder, Adebayo, Winslow

Heat center Hassan Whiteside returned to action tonight after missing five games with a bone bruise on his left knee. Although Whiteside’s absence has been part of the reason for a disappointing 2-4 start, there are other factors, explains Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Those include a defense that has slipped from fifth in points allowed last season to 23rd so far this year and 3-point shooting that ranks 27th in the league. Miami is also reeling from the loss of Rodney McGruder, who will miss three to six months after undergoing surgery for a left tibia stress fracture. “He’s always in the right spot, he’s always getting those 50/50 balls, even if it’s 70 against 30,” Goran Dragic said of the second-year shooting guard. “We don’t know how but he’s going to get that ball. Those are game changers.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat held a team meeting Sunday to let players discuss the reasons for the slow start, Jackson writes in the same story. Tyler Johnson said coach Erik Spoelstra opened the meeting, followed by the team captains, then other players. “Sometimes I forget what got me here is undeniable energy and hunger,” Johnson said. “Nobody can keep me from being able to do my job. Whoever is matched up in front of me, I didn’t care who they were, if they were an all-star. That Rodney McGruder type attitude. We definitely do need to get back to that.”
  • After posting his first double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds against the Timberwolves, rookie Bam Adebayo credited his time at Kentucky for helping him get ready for the NBA, Jackson adds. Adebayo said Wildcats coach John Calipari teaches players to put the organization above their own goals. “If you sacrifice for the better of the team, that means you care about the team more than yourself,” Adebayo said. “Kentucky is a blueprint for the NBA.”
  • Justise Winslow has relied on speed more than bulk while making the move to power forward, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The third-year player, who was limited to 18 games last season by wrist and shoulder problems, has dropped 10 pounds and embraced his new duties. “I think he’s quick, he’s faster, he’s able to get to the ball quicker,” Spoelstra said. “So much of having 12 rebounds in a game is quickness to the ball. And he’s got a knack to the ball, but now he can really get to it quickly.”

Heat’s McGruder, White Get Salary Guarantees

The Heat are guaranteeing the 2017/18 salaries for a pair of second-year players, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, who reports that Rodney McGruder and Okaro White will receive full guarantees for the season.

Both McGruder and White are in their second NBA seasons and have minimum salary contracts worth $1,312,611. Those contracts had only been partially guaranteed for about $453K before today, per Basketball Insiders.

As Basketball Insiders’ data indicates, both players were in line to have their salaries guaranteed if they remained on the roster through the first game of the regular season. We interpreted that as the Heat’s first game, listing an October 18 deadline on our salary guarantees calendar, but Winderman’s report suggests that both players are safe and already in line for their full guarantees.

Although McGruder and White received some good news in relation to their contracts, both players will be unable to play for the Heat in tonight’s season opener. White, who is battling a sprained left shoulder, expects to be back soon, as he tells Winderman. However, McGruder recently underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg and will likely be sidelined for a few months.

The Heat now have 15 players on fully guaranteed salaries for 2017/18.

Rodney McGruder Expected To Miss 3-6 Months

OCTOBER 17: McGruder underwent successful surgery to repair his left tibia stress fracture today, the Heat confirmed in a press release. The team has yet to announce a timetable for McGruder’s recovery.

OCTOBER 12: The Heat’s depth on the wing is about to take a hit, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that swingman Rodney McGruder is expected to undergo surgery on a stress fracture in his leg. The procedure would likely sideline him for three to six months, league sources tell Charania.

McGruder, 26, enjoyed a productive rookie season with the Heat in 2016/17, finding his way into the starting lineup for 65 of his 78 games. For the season, he averaged 6.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.6 APG in 25.2 minutes per contest.

Heading into the 2017/18 season, McGruder had been competing for a spot in the Heat’s starting lineup, with Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow among the other options the club had been considering at small forward. With McGruder reportedly set to miss a significant portion of the season, Richardson looks like the favorite to step into that starting role.

Currently, only about $453K of McGruder’s minimum salary is guaranteed, but he shouldn’t be in danger of losing his roster spot. Even in the unlikely event that the Heat were to waive him, the team would be on the hook for his full salary until he receives medical clearance.

Heat Rumors: Hammons, Liggins, Olynyk, Waiters

Rodney McGruder‘s injury could force the Heat to address the imbalanced roster, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. McGruder is out 3-6 months with a stress fracture in his leg, swinging the door open for Miami to keep or add another wing player, Jackson continues. The bottom of the roster is filled with power forwards and centers — Bam Adebayo, Udonis Haslem, Jordan Mickey and A.J. Hammons — and the Heat may have to waive Hammons and his guaranteed two-year contract to fortify the wing positions. Miami could keep either DeAndre Liggins or Matt Williams Jr. from its training-camp roster to fill the void, Jackson adds.

In other developments concerning the Heat:

  • Kelly Olynyk has made a strong case to be the starting power forward, even though James Johnson came into camp as the favorite to win the job, Jackson reports in another story. Olynyk has meshed well with center Hassan Whiteside in preseason action, which is making the decision tougher for coach Erik Spoelstra, Jackson continues. “Their skill sets really complement each other,” Spoelstra told Jackson and other media members. “Kelly does a lot of things very similar to JJ in his own personality, in his own way. We think it fits. We think it works whether he comes off the bench or not, I like the dynamic.”
  • Dion Waiters had to wait out the Gordon Hayward free agent saga before the Heat committed to him with a four-year, $52MM contract, Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni notes during an in-depth feature on Waiters. A confident Waiters opted out of his deal this summer and the gamble ultimately paid off when Miami lost the Hayward sweepstakes and instead spent a chunk of their free-agent money on Waiters. “He likes to say he bet on himself, but he also bet on the organization,” Spoelstra told Nadkarni. “We bet on him as well. We’re not only about reclamation projects. We wanted to develop a relationship that would last longer than a year.”

Southeast Notes: Isaac, Porter Jr., Richardson

The Magic have been hard at work gaining insights about their roster this preseason and have already come up with a five-man group that they’re fond of. John Denton of the Magic’s official site writes that Frank Vogel particularly enjoyed playing Elfrid Payton alongside Jonathon Simmons at the two with Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon at the three and four, respectively, with Bismack Biyombo at center.

That’s scary for other teams because there is a lot of athleticism out there and a lot of guys who can guard point guard through power forward,” Payton, entering his fourth year with the Magic, said. “There’s so much speed and athleticism there. Even though we’d be seen as a small unit, Jonathon [Simmons] is athletic, Isaac is athletic, A.G. is athletic and I don’t think we’d lose anything on the rebounding end. I look forward to seeing that [lineup] more.

The scribe also notes that Isaac, while famously raw as a 20-year-old, 210-pound forward, could still be utilized as a defensive specialist for the Magic in his first year in the pros. “He’s NBA-ready to come in and impact our team on the defensive end right now,” Vogel said.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

Heat Notes: Haslem, Bosh, Hammons, Lineup

Longtime Heat big man Udonis Haslem is back in Miami for his 15th season with the team this year, but he admits that at one point this offseason he was unsure whether he’d re-sign with the Heat. As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald details, Haslem received interest from Cleveland in July and acknowledges that he considered signing with the Cavaliers.

“I got an interesting call from Cleveland,” Haslem said. “My son is out there [as a student and football player] at the University of Toledo in Ohio. It was something to consider.”

Although Haslem never paid a visit to the Cavs, his agent Leon Rose spoke to team management, writes Jackson. Ultimately though, Haslem decided that it wouldn’t make sense for him to leave the Heat at this point in his career, suggesting that he can’t imagine playing for another team — even one that now features his former Heat teammate Dwyane Wade.

“It would have been funny [with Wade there], but I don’t regret the decision I made,” Haslem said. “I’m where I’m supposed to be, I’m where I need to be. I’m where I’m most effective, even though it’s not on the basketball court, I would like to think I impact this organization, this team just by bringing my presence and everything else.”

Here’s more on the Heat from Jackson:

  • Associates of Chris Bosh, who appeared at Lakers practice this week as a guest of his former agent Rob Pelinka, say the veteran big man hasn’t ruled out the idea of an NBA comeback, despite his blood clot issues. If Bosh were to make an NBA return, his salary wouldn’t go back on the Heat’s cap, Jackson notes.
  • Although A.J. Hammons has a guaranteed salary, his spot on the 15-man regular season roster isn’t necessarily a lock, in Jackson’s view. Hammons, who will be out for a week with the flu, has the advantage over camp invitee Matt Williams due to his guaranteed contract, but he was essentially a throw-in in the Josh McRoberts trade with Dallas, so if Williams proves more deserving of that roster spot, the Heat will face a difficult decision.
  • Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is interested in seeing Hassan Whiteside play alongside free agent addition Kelly Olynyk during the preseason, believing that their skill sets complement one another, says Jackson.
  • In the battle for the Heat’s starting small forward job, Josh Richardson isn’t concerned about whether or not he starts, but Rodney McGruder said that being in the starting lineup would be important to him, according to Jackson. “Who wouldn’t want to start in the NBA?” McGruder said. “It’s fun starting.”

Heat Notes: Winslow, Olynyk, Adebayo, Wade

For a team that brought back nearly all its key players over the offseason, the Heat head into training camp with a lot of unanswered questions. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines position battles and several other topics in his latest column:

  • The starting small forward position will be wide open when camp begins Tuesday, with Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder all having a shot at it. The Heat exercised their fourth-year option on Winslow this week as the former first-rounder tries to battle back from a shoulder injury that limited him to 18 games last season. Miami was only 3-12 when he started last year and he wasn’t part of the team’s surge after the All-Star break. Richardson, who received a four-year extension this week, came into the league as a guard, but played 80% of his minutes last season at forward.
  • James Johnson is the favorite to start at power forward, but free agent addition Kelly Olynyk will be an intriguing addition because of his outside shooting. Olynyk shoots .368 from 3-point range for his career, compared to .296 for Johnson, although he raised that number to 34% last season. Olynyk, who was used mainly in a reserve role in Boston, will see plenty of minutes in Miami whether he starts or not.
  • Johnson, Olynyk and Hassan Whiteside will take up most of the center/power forward opportunities, leaving little for first-round pick Bam Adebayo, whom the Heat believe has a bright future. Winslow may also be utilized as a stretch four in small-ball lineups, so Adebayo will need a strong showing in camp to earn playing time.
  • Okaro White and Jordan Mickey are likely to make the roster, with A.J. Hammons holding a slight edge for the 15th spot. However, the Heat have concerns about Hammons’ work ethic and he will be challenged by shooting guard Matt Williams. Former Michigan point guard Derrick Walton has been impressive over the summer, but he has a two-way contract and can’t spend more than 45 days in the NBA.
  • The front office isn’t unanimous in wanting Dwyane Wade back if he agrees to a buyout with the Bulls. There are concerns about his defense at age 35, and the Heat already have five guards who can make a case for playing time.

Latest On NBA’s Summer Salary Guarantee Dates

The Heat didn’t make any roster moves with Rodney McGruder or Okaro White on Tuesday, ensuring that both players remain under contract and received partial guarantees on their contracts for 2017/18, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

As Basketball Insiders details, McGruder and White are on minimum salary deals worth $1,312,611 for the coming season. By remaining with the Heat through August 1, both players are now in line for about $453K in guaranteed money. Their full salaries will become guaranteed if they stay under contract through the first game of the regular season.

Meanwhile, as we noted last night, the Hornets also kept Johnny O’Bryant on their roster beyond his August 1 salary guarantee deadline, making his $1,524,305 minimum salary fully guaranteed.

Other players, including Jordan Crawford of the Pelicans and Bryn Forbes of the Spurs, had August 1 salary guarantee deadlines in their contracts as well, per Basketball Insiders’ data. However, we haven’t received confirmation that their guarantees are locked in.

Neither Crawford nor Forbes was waived, but teams and players can sometimes agree to push back guarantee dates to create more flexibility for the club — the Trail Blazers recently did just that with Pat Connaughton, whose salary guarantee deadline is now August 31 instead of July 25.

For more details on which players have received salary guarantees this summer – as well as which players have been waived before those guarantees kicked in – be sure to check out our full breakdown.

Southeast Notes: Magic, McGruder, Wizards, Howard

Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman focused on versatile players who can play multiple positions in free agency, John Denton of the Magic’s website writes. Despite limited flexibility, the Magic struck quickly when the Spurs renounced their rights to Jonathon Simmons. Orlando also added center Marreese Speights, point guard Shelvin Mack and shooting guard Arron Afflalo to team-friendly deals, Denton continues. That improves the team’s depth and gives coach Frank Vogel a better chance to make in-game adjusments, Denton adds.

In other news around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are likely to retain shooting guard Rodney McGruder and forward Okaro White and give them guaranteed money, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Both players will receive $453K if they remain on the roster by the end of the business day on Tuesday.  They each have $1.3MM contracts for next season amount but the guarantees are equal to half of what each player would have received for the 2017/18 season under the previous NBA veteran-minimum scale, Winderman explains.
  • The Wizards are comfortable with their decision to retain small forward Otto Porter and exceed the luxury-tax apron, Chase Hughes of MidAtlantic.com reports. Porter’s four-year, $106MM contract currently puts the team on course to pay $11.4MM in luxury tax but majority owner Ted Leonsis is willing to do that for a playoff team, as he told Hughes. “You have to be in the tax, but you’re keeping the team together,” he said. “That was a worthwhile thing to do.”
  • Dwight Howard‘s familiarity with Hornets coach Steve Clifford will help Howard focus on defense next season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines. Clifford coached Howard with the Magic and Lakers and knows how to dole out constructive criticism to the enigmatic center, Bonnell explains.

Heat Notes: Weber, McGruder, Richardson, Wade

When the Heat host the Hornets on Wednesday, it will mark their first game against training camp cut Briante Weber, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Weber had been a fixture on Miami’s D-League affiliate in Sioux Falls for the past two seasons, helping the Skyforce win the league title in 2015/16. He signed two 10-day contracts with the Warriors last month, but was released when Golden State wanted to make room for Jose Calderon, and later Matt Barnes. Weber agreed to a 10-day deal with Charlotte February 27th. “I just told him I appreciated his attitude and his effort and what he brought to us,” Stephen Curry said about Weber’s time with the Warriors. “He has a lot to offer this league, his tenacity on the defensive end and his confidence. … He’s going to be around for a long time.”

There’s more news out of Miami:

  • Rodney McGruder has come a long way to earn a starting job and get consideration for the All-Rookie team, Winderman writes in a separate story. McGruder went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2013, then played in Hungary and the D-League before making the Heat roster at the start of this season. “It is nice being mentioned,” he said. “… But I’ve just got to thank my teammates. The coaching staff put me in a great situation, that’s what I always say.”
  • The injuries that have followed Josh Richardson through his first two NBA seasons are a new experience, writes Shandel Richarson of The Sun-Sentinel. The former Tennessee standout said he never missed a game in college and only one in high school. But injuries limited him to 52 games last season, and he has sat out 30 already this year because of knee surgery and ankle problems. “Figuring out how to get through injuries has been good for me,” Richardson said. “… Now I just got to get my basketball rhythm back. I think I was starting to show good growth before I was injured the last time.”
  • Dwyane Wade keeps dropping hints about opting out of next season’s contract with the Bulls, but Dave Hyde of The Sun-Sentinel argues that it’s not time for a reunion in Miami. Signing Wade, who would want more than the $23.8MM he’s scheduled to get from Chicago, would make it unlikely that the Heat could keep Dion Waiters, who has been a major part of their recent surge back into playoff contention.
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