Rodney McGruder

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southeast Division:

Dewayne Dedmon, Hawks, 29, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $14.1MM deal in 2017
Dedmon seems like a prime candidate to hit the buyout market, but incentive clauses in his contract may motivate him to stick out the season in Atlanta. As long as Dedmon stays in the rotation, spending the season with the lottery-bound Hawks shouldn’t hurt his value when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Dedmon has evolved into a ‘stretch five’ in the sixth year of his career. Lately, he’s taken a majority of his shots from beyond the arc and he’s getting pretty good at it. He’s shooting 46.4% from long range this month and 38.6% for the season, which will serve as a nice selling point.

Kemba Walker, Hornets, 28, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $48MM deal in 2015
Walker will be the second-best point guard on the market after Kyrie Irving but he’ll hardly be a consolation prize. Walker has been terrific throughout the season and he’s off to a blazing start this month. In his last four games, he’s averaging 34.0 points, 8.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds. Walker is averaging a career-high 25.1 PPG this season and has missed just six games since the 2015/16 campaign. Walker has been working on a team-friendly contract paying him $12MM annually. He’ll get a gargantuan raise whether he decides to stick with the Hornets or join one of the many teams with significant cap space seeking a top-flight free agent.

Rodney McGruder, Heat, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder lost his rotation spot, then got it back when Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson were traded last week. In the last two games, McGruder has scored a total of four points on 2-for-10 shooting. He’s lacking in confidence, as evidenced by the fact he’s missed his last 17 3-point attempts. Coming off an injury-marred 2017/18 campaign, McGruder got off to a strong start and contributed as a play-maker as well as a scorer. Miami can make him a restricted free agent by extending a modest $3MM qualifying offer this summer, but even that’s no longer a sure thing.

Jerian Grant, Magic, 26, PG (Down) — Signed to a four-year, $7.57MM deal in 2015
Grant had a golden opportunity to enhance his value after getting traded to Orlando in July via a three-team swap. He entered one of the sketchiest point guard situations in the league but after failing to beat out journeyman D.J. Augustin for the starting job, he has also fallen behind Isaiah Briscoe on the depth chart. Grant has played a total of six garbage-time minutes over the last six games. It’s hard to imagine Orlando extending a $3.76MM qualifying offer to make Grant a restricted free agent, so he’ll be scrounging for a fresh start elsewhere.

Tomas Satoransky, Wizards, 27, PG (Up)– Signed to a three-year, $9MM deal in 2016
John Wall‘s pain has led to Satorsansky’s gain and he could cash in before he becomes a restricted free agent. Reports surfaced early last month that the team has engaged with Satoransky’s representatives regarding an extension. With Wall likely out all of next year after tearing his Achilles, Satoransky becomes even more valuable to the franchise. He could sign for as much as $47.5MM over a four-year period on an extension and he hasn’t hurt his cause since taking over as the primary point man. He’s racked up eight or more assists in nine games since January 9th.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Johnson, McGruder, Waiters, Johnson

The Heat have had to use countless different lineup combinations throughout the season as players have come and gone due to injuries, but recently it has been Tyler Johnson that has become a key staple in the starting lineup.

As Ira Winderman writes for The Sun-Sentinal, Johnson has provided an energetic approach that has made him a perfect fit for the starting lineup, especially as Erik Spoelstra continues to look for ways to jumpstart his team.

The Heat have made several significant changes in the wake of Goran Dragic‘s injury, most notably converting Justise Winslow to being the team’s primary ball-handler and creator.

There’s more from the Heat:

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Spoelstra, Wade, McGruder

Hassan Whiteside has impacted the Heat in a much more positive way this season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, who shares perspectives from some of Whiteside’s teammates and other figures around the franchise.

Whiteside, who missed part of last season due to injury, was unhappy with his playing time after his minutes dropped from 32.6 per game to 25.3. The Heat handled the matter internally at the time, working with him to become a better teammate and approach games with a team-first mentality.

“I think I’m just in a better place than what I was last year,” Whiteside said, according to Jackson. “Going through all the injuries and stuff, I was real frustrated with myself too, not being able to be there with my teammates, not being able to contribute like I wanted to. There was a lot of frustration with myself also, with the injuries. I’m just happy we’re winning. All the other stuff will come.”

Whiteside has averaged 12.5 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 25.8 minutes per game this season with Miami. His overall mindset and willingness to trust coach Erik Spoelstra has helped improved their relationship as a result.

“Spo’s my guy,” Whiteside said. “We overcommunicate. We got an understanding. He wants to win. I want to win. We’re definitely in a better place.”

Spoelstra, who’s coached Whiteside for each of the past five seasons, is impressed with his growth and maturity. Whiteside has put forth a ton of work in recent months, including improving his quality of screens to help his team.

“Every year, he’s becoming a better basketball player and learning how to become an ultimate winner. And he’s enjoying it more,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the whole thing that’s tough for players to really grasp. The more you breathe life into somebody else and enjoy somebody else’s success, whatever it is that you are searching for yourself, you usually end up getting because of that giving mentality.”

There’s more out of Miami today:

  • Erik Spoelstra will tie Pat Riley‘s franchise record by coaching his 849th regular-season game with the Heat on Monday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. Spoelstra, who’s in his 11th season as head coach, can pass Riley’s record on Wednesday against the Clippers.
  • Dwyane Wade played his final game in Chicago on Saturday, tallying 14 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in nearly 27 minutes. “I have more of a connection here than anywhere else,” Wade said postgame, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “It’s my birth city. It’s the place where my vision to become an NBA player started, watching my favorite team and watching my favorite players growing up. It definitely felt different than any other city but it was a good different. It was a joyous time for me to be here.”
  • Rodney McGruder has earned a higher ground for restricted free agency this summer, Winderman details for the Sun Sentinel. McGruder, 27, met the criteria of starting half of the season (41 games) last week, raising his $1.9 million qualifying offer to $3MM. The CBA also states that the “starter criteria” could include playing 2,000 or more minutes, according to Winderman, with McGruder logging 1,185 minutes just over the halfway point of the season.

Southeast Notes: Schroder, Kemba, McGruder, Wizards

Returning to Atlanta this week for the first time since he was traded from the Hawks to the Thunder last summer, Dennis Schroder didn’t mince words when he spoke about heading from Atlanta to Oklahoma City. As Erik Horne of The Oklahoman relays, Schroder suggested that he welcomed the move to a contender after growing tired of the Hawks’ rebuilding efforts.

“I wanted to be in a winning-mentality organization,” Schroder said before Tuesday’s game between the Thunder and Hawks. “You just can’t go out there and try to lose. I’m a competitor and I try to give everything out there. I want the organization to feel the same way. Right now with our organization, all the players in the locker room, all of the coaches, they’ve got a winning mentality. That’s what makes it fun, when you go out there and go to war with your brothers. There’s nothing better than that.”

Despite Schroder’s veiled shots at the Hawks, it was Atlanta that had the last laugh on Tuesday. The Hawks overcame Schroder’s 21 points and six assists to beat the Thunder in a 142-126 barn-burner. Atlanta’s offensive outburst included a pair of 45-point quarters.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • In an interesting and in-depth feature for Bleacher Report, Jonathan Abrams explores Kemba Walker‘s situation in Charlotte, including his upcoming free agency. While Walker didn’t drop any bombshells regarding his future, he said he remains very interested in helping the Hornets reach new heights. “I do want to be the first to accomplish a lot of the goals that have never been accomplished around here,” Walker said. “Yeah, I do think about that. Just because I know a lot of things haven’t been accomplished here, and this is my eighth season here now. … I want to help accomplish those goals and help get this organization far—as far as possible.”
  • Rodney McGruder, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, started his 41st game for the Heat on Tuesday. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, that means McGruder has now met the “starter criteria” for RFAs, which will increase the value of his qualifying offer from $1.93MM to $3.02MM.
  • After falling to 13-23 and losing John Wall for the season, the Wizards‘ season looked over. But since then, the club has won five of eight games, including impressive victories against Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee. As Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington details, that puts the Wizards at a crossroads with the trade deadline fast approaching. In a separate story, Standig takes a closer look at whether Washington should buy, sell, or stand pat.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, McGruder, Bamba, Briscoe

Even if the Wizards are granted an $8.6MM disabled player exception, they’re more likely to sign players to 10-day contracts than use that exception, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Washington applied for the exception due to John Wall‘s season-ending heel surgery.

The Wizards’ cap issues make it unlikely they’d find a free agent enticing enough to sign for the remainder of the season by using a portion of the exception. The Wizards inked point guard Ramon Sessions to a pair of 10-day contracts last season before signing him for the rest of the season, Hughes notes.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Shooting guard Rodney McGruder could lose his rotation spot if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decides to expand Tyler Johnson‘s minutes, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest mailbag. In that instance, Dion Waiters would start ahead of McGruder and Johnson would receive second unit minutes. Waiters returned from ankle surgery three games ago. McGruder has played fewer than 20 minutes in three of the last four games.
  • An MRI on rookie center Mohamed Bamba‘s sore foot showed no structural damage, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Magic coach Steve Clifford said Bamba is unlikely to play this weekend, Robbins adds. The sixth overall pick sat out against Utah on Wednesday.
  • Clifford is inclined to keep rookie Isaiah Briscoe in the Magic’s rotation as the backup point guard, Robbins reports in another tweet. Briscoe has averaged 17.5 MPG in the last two games, contributing 5.5 PPG and 3.5 APG. The undrafted Kentucky product has displaced Jerian Grant, who had been backing up D.J. Augustin. Briscoe’s salary is non-guaranteed after this season, while Grant could be an unrestricted free agent if the club doesn’t extend a $3.76MM qualifying offer.

Community Shootaround: Heat Roster Logjam

As we relayed earlier today, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is “sick” to his stomach about his inability to find minutes for veteran sharpshooter Wayne Ellington. And now that fellow guard and teammate Dion Waiters is set to return from his ankle injury, don’t expect playing time decisions to get any easier for Spoelstra.

Not counting Waiters or up-and-coming youngster Derrick Jones, the Heat already have 11 players on standard NBA contracts who log 20.5 minutes per game or more, the most of anyone in the league. And of those 12 players, seven are swingmen who play primarily on the wing (Josh RichardsonRodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Dwyane Wade, Tyler Johnson, Ellington, and Waiters).

In tonight’s blowout win against the Cavs, Wade logged a DNP-Illness, with the remainder of the minutes on the wing going to Richardson (32), Jones (31), Winslow (27), Johnson (26), McGruder (21), and Waiters (11).

With Wade back in the mix soon and Waiters presumably playing his way into more minutes, the question becomes whether the Heat will move on from some of the aforementioned players, such as Waiters or Ellington, or keep the roster logjam as currently constructed as insurance in the event of another injury.

That brings us to our question of the day: Do you think the Heat should try to move on from some of their wings or keep them all around for the rest of the 2018/19 season? If they alter their roster, who is the most likely wing to be moved? Ellington? Waiters? Somebody else?

Please take to the comments section to weigh in. We look forward to your input.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southeast Division:

Jeremy Lin, Hawks, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $38.3MM deal in 2016
Lin suffered a season-ending knee injury last October with Brooklyn. He’s bounced back impressively as the backup point guard in Atlanta. He’s averaging 10.9 PPG and 3.2 APG in 18.5 MPG while posting an above-average PER. For a contender looking to fill the same spot, Lin would be a viable option prior to the trade deadline. He’ll have to accept a lower salary with his next contract but he shouldn’t have too much trouble finding work in July.

Frank Kaminsky, Hornets, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $11.8MM deal in 2015
Far removed from leading Wisconsin to the 2015 national championship, Kaminsky continues to disappoint as a pro. Under former coach Steve Clifford, Kaminsky was a steady presence in the rotation. First-year James Borrego has buried Kaminsky so deep on the bench that the stretch four hasn’t played the last three games. Kaminsky could be a restricted free agent if the Hornets extend a $4.9MM qualifying option but that’s not happening. He’ll be looking to hit the reset button in July.

Rodney McGruder, Heat, 27, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
McGruder has started regularly for the Heat this season but that might not last much longer. He’s averaged 5.2 points in his last five outings while shooting 27.6 percent from the field. His PER is well below average. In McGruder’s favor is his team-friendly contract. He’ll be a restricted free agent if the Heat extend a $1.93MM qualifying offer. Whether he receives it will likely depend on how much cap space Pat Riley wants to open up.

Nikola Vucevic, Magic, 28, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $53MM deal in 2015
Orlando has some young, athletic bigs but Vucevic is so productive, he’s maintained his minutes under new coach Steve Clifford. The veteran big man is averaging a career-high 20.8 PPG, 11.8 RPG and 3.6 APG. Like many 7-footers his age, Vucevic came into the league as mainly a low post player but has extended his range beyond the arc. He’s made 39% of his attempts this season. Currently ranked No. 10 in our Free Agent Power Rankings, Vucevic should be a nice consolation prize for a team with significant cap space that strikes out pursuing the biggest names on the market.

Trevor Ariza, Wizards, 33, SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2018
Phoenix quickly moved Ariza to a team fighting for a playoff spot after giving him a nice one-year payday over the summer. The Wizards are just 1-4 since acquiring Ariza but what’s more significant is how many teams inquired about him before the trade. He reportedly drew interest from at least eight clubs. His 3-and-D skills remain in high demand and he should be able to land at least one more big-money contract before he retires.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: McGruder, Butler, Howard, Graham

Rodney McGruder‘s hot start to the new season could affect the Heat’s plans for the trade deadline, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Through seven games, McGruder ranks 16th among small forwards in scoring, 11th in shooting percentage and seventh in 3-point shooting. He will be eligible for an extension through the end of June that could pay as much as $47MM over four seasons.

If they Heat decide to make that commitment, they’ll become more likely to trade other wing players to shed salary. Tyler Johnson and Dion Waiters have been on the market for months, Jackson notes, but other contracts may have to be moved to avoid a substantial luxury tax bill.

Miami has $135.2MM committed to 10 players for 2019/20, assuming Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic all opt in to their current deals. That puts the Heat above the projected $132MM tax line and doesn’t account for the cost of re-signing Wayne Ellington, who will be a free agent next summer after making $6.3MM this year.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are willing to continue trade talks for Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler even though their last attempt ended in an angry exchange between the organizations, Jackson adds in the same story. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported today that Minnesota’s asking price for Butler is still high (Twitter link).
  • Dwight Howard is working in the same facility with the Capital City Go Go while rehabbing a strained piriformis muscle, but he has to coordinate his schedule so he doesn’t actually practice with the team, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The NBA doesn’t let its players practice with G League squads, so Howard has been working out with Wizards player development assistants Alex McLean and Mike Williams. He is expected to make his season debut on Friday.
  • Hornets rookie Devonte’ Graham will spend at least two games in the G League, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Head coach James Borrego says he wants to get the young point guard used to a heavy dose of minutes, which he can’t do at the NBA level. “These are critical moments [with the Greensboro Swarm] to go play meaningful 5-on-5 games,” Borrego said. “We can’t replicate that for him right now. And even if I could get him into the game – last night to get him two or three minutes of run – it’s not the same as sending him to Greensboro and playing. I’m excited for him and he’s excited to play.”

Southeast Notes: McGruder, Butler, Kidd-Gilchrist, Ressler

Heat guard Rodney McGruder is boosting his chances for a contract extension with his productive start to the new season, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Through four games, McGruder is putting up numbers that dwarf his career averages, posting 16.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per night. After missing all but 18 games last season with a leg injury, McGruder is making the most of his newly won spot in the starting lineup.

The 27-year-old is eligible for an extension that could pay him up to $47MM over four seasons. McGruder and the Heat can negotiate an extension through June 30, so there’s no rush to get a deal done. Miami could also opt to make him a restricted free agent by making a $1.9MM qualifying offer.

The Heat’s salary structure could be the main thing standing in the way of a McGruder extension, Winderman notes. If Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic all opt in, the team will have eight players earning at least $10MM next season. A long-term deal for McGruder would also cut into Miami’s cap room for 2020, when the organization hopes to be competitive in the free agent market with those three contracts off the books.

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s greatest value to the Heat could be to entice another star to join the team in 2020, Winderman suggests in a separate piece. Even if the organization gives Butler the maximum contract he wants, it would have enough to offer a max deal in free agency.
  • Even though he’s no longer a starter, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is enjoying the changes implemented by new Hornets coach James Borrego, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Kidd-Gilchrist also had his minutes reduced and was moved from small forward to power forward, but he’s thriving in the new system. “A new coach, a new way of playing, a new lifestyle,” he said. “It is easy and simple. It’s me running in transition. All my teammates helped me from Day One about not starting, saying, ‘It’s OK.’”
  • Hawks owner Tony Ressler tells Jeff Schultz of The Athletic that he takes the blame for the team’s recent collapse and describes his former management team of Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox as “total dysfunction.” They frequently disagreed on personnel moves, with Budenholzer, who also served as coach, being focused on a win-now approach. “Bud was not the right coach for us,” Ressler said. “He was desperate to coach a superstar. I don’t know where Bud’s head was; you’ll have to ask him. But I do think when some people have a very short life as the decision-maker, and they no longer have it, sometimes they miss it.”

Southeast Rumors: Bamba, Vucevic, McGruder, Melvin

Magic lottery pick Mohamed Bamba will come off the bench and have his minutes monitored, John Denton of the team’s website reports. Coach Steve Clifford doesn’t feel the 20-year-old 7-footer is ready to jump into the lineup any time soon. “I want him to play 82 (games), and he’s going to be out there and playing quality minutes,” Clifford said. “But he’s just not ready to play starter’s minutes against starting players. (A reserve role) is a big part of how you bring a player along. He’s in a role that’s ideal for him.” The unspecified minutes restriction is designed to have him “playing his best in March and April,” Clifford added.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic can be expected to do their due diligence and gauge starting center Nikola Vucevic’s trade value, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Vucevic is in his walk year and will enter unrestricted free agency in July. Vucevic doesn’t fit president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond’s desire for length and versatility, Scotto adds.
  • Rodney McGruder and Derrick Jones Jr. have been effective as starters during the first two games, which further complicates the long-range plan for the Heat’s rotation, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. With Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington currently sidelined, finding enough playing time for rotation-worthy players hasn’t been an issue, Winderman continues. When those players return, Miami will have 13 players who arguably should be in the rotation, Winderman adds.
  • Former WNBA star Chasity Melvin has been named an assistant coach with the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets’ G League affiliate, according to a Swarm press release. Melvin, who played 12 WNBA seasons, is the first female coach in franchise history. She was hired through the NBA Assistant Coaches Program.