Ryan Anderson

Woj: Heat “Team To Watch” For Russell Westbrook

The Heat are a “team to watch” in the Russell Westbrook situation, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today during the network’s broadcast of a Summer League game (video clip).

“Russell Westbrook at 30 years old is still a high-level player, but it is a lot of money and he’s going to take up a great deal of your salary cap,” said Wojnarowski, who predicts Miami will be among several to talk to the Thunder about Westbrook’s availability.

A source confirms to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald that Heat officials “absolutely like” Westbrook, but there’s no indication of how hard they plan to pursue him (Twitter link). He adds that the Thunder own Miami’s first-round pick in 2021 and don’t have any incentive to help the Heat.

Westbrook’s availability was made public in the wake of the surprising overnight trade that sent teammate Paul George to the Clippers to team up with Kawhi Leonard. Westbrook will make $170MM over the next four seasons and the Thunder are interested in cutting costs now that they longer have two stars in place.

There’s more today from Miami:

  • New Heat center Meyers Leonard told Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel that he has gotten over the shock of being traded from the Trail Blazers. Leonard said he was in the middle of a workout when his trainer told him to call his agent after seeing a tweet from Wojnarowski about the deal. “There are numerous things I’m excited for — the culture, the kind of get-in-there-and-work-hard grit mentality,” Leonard said. “I can only say I’m very, very excited for this opportunity, to help the Heat win.”
  • The Heat are risking their ability to surround Butler with more talent in the future with today’s decision to stretch the $15.6MM still owed to Ryan Anderson, Winderman notes in a separate story. They had to cut salary before they could accommodate Butler’s new contract, but the deal will keep Anderson on the payroll for three more years at $5.2MM per season.
  • The Heat expect rookie forward KZ Okpala to make his Summer League debut tomorrow, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. With the moratorium lifted, the 32nd pick in the draft officially traveled the circuitous route that took him from the Pacers to the Suns to the Heat. “The process has been different,” Okpala said of the long wait. “It’s not what I expected, for sure. But I think it’s just all a part of the process. You just have to control the things you can control.”

Heat Acquire Jimmy Butler In Sign-And-Trade

The Heat have officially acquired Jimmy Butler from the Sixers in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers and the Clippers, according to press releases from Miami and Philadelphia.

The Heat also acquired big man Meyers Leonard from the Trail Blazers and cash considerations from the Clippers. Miami sent shooting guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers and a conditional first-round pick to the Clippers. The Clippers also received forward Maurice Harkless from Portland and the draft rights to 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort from the Sixers.

The Clippers and Blazers have also confirmed the swap.

The 2023 first-rounder that the Heat forwarded to the Clippers, which is lottery-protected through 2025 and unprotected in 2026, was subsequently moved to the Thunder as part of the agreed-upon Paul George blockbuster.

Butler inked a four-year, $141MM contract with the Heat. Miami waived forward Ryan Anderson and stretched his contract in order to stay below the hard cap and complete the sign-and-trade.

“Jimmy’s leadership, tenacity, professionalism, defensive disposition and his ability to create his own shot will improve our roster immediately,” Miami president Pat Riley said in the press release. “Any time you can add a four-time All-Star to your roster, you make that move. Meyers is a versatile big, a great shooter, can play inside and block shots. The addition of both men puts us in a great position to win.”

The disgruntled Butler was dealt by Minnesota to Philadelphia last season. The Sixers wanted to retain Butler but couldn’t convince him to stay and got something for him via the sign-and-trade mechanism. In 65 total games for the Wolves and Sixers last season, Butler averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG with a .462/.347/.855 shooting line. Richardson averaged a career-high 16.6 PPG and 4.1 APG last season.

Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey called the acquisition of Whiteside an “impact move for our roster.” The Blazers were looking for a starting center with Jusuf Nurkic on the mend from a serious leg injury.

Heat Waive, Stretch Ryan Anderson’s Contract

2:05pm: The Heat have formally waived Anderson, the team confirmed in a press release.

12:26pm: The Heat will waive Ryan Anderson and use the stretch provision on the remaining year of  the forward’s contract in order to complete the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade with the Sixers, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.

Anderson had a $21,264,635 salary for next season but approximately $15,64MM was guaranteed. By stretching out the guaranteed portion of the contract, the Heat will take cap hits of approximately $5.2MM for the next three seasons. Miami needed to get below the hard cap of $138.9MM that applies to teams that acquire a player via sign-and-trade. Stretching out Anderson’s deal was its simplest means of achieving that goal, as the Heat will drop $1.88MM below that hard cap threshold, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

Anderson was one of the hottest free agents on the market in 2016 and signed a four-year, $80MM with the Rockets. That contract became an albatross after Anderson lost playing time in Houston and he was traded to both the Suns and Heat last season, appearing in just 25 games.

The Heat will apparently hold onto Goran Dragic for the time being, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Dragic, who is due $19.2MM for next season, has been the subject of trade rumors.

Eastern Notes: Wizards, Heat, Celtics

The Wizards are still looking to make moves with their $8.6MM trade exception and in free agency, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. Washington has already agreed to a sign-and-trade to ship out Tomas Satoransky to the Bulls, agreed to a two-year deal with Ish Smith and come to terms with center Thomas Bryant on a three-year deal.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Heat are still seeking to ship out contracts to ease their cap burden and reduce the need to stretch Ryan Anderson‘s contract, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. Miami is hopeful of reducing or eliminating its luxury tax penalty for next summer, Jackson adds. The Heat are trying to hold onto Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones Jr. but are open to moving other veterans, Jackson adds in another tweet. The Heat have been extremely active in recent days, most notably piecing together a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler and reaching an agreement to trade Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers.
  • The Celtics have reached agreements with free agents Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter but they’re far from done, according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. The Celtics are still looking at a number of free agents and potential sign-and-trades that could free up money to get another impact player, Bulpett continues. Interior defense is the biggest area of need, he adds.

Heat’s Jimmy Butler Sign-And-Trade Deal To Include Clippers, Blazers

7:58pm: The 2023 first-round pick being sent from the Heat to Clippers will be lottery-protected through 2025, then unprotected in 2026, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

5:00pm: The Clippers will receive a protected 2023 first-round pick from the Heat in the deal, according to ESPN’s full report.

4:17pm: The sign-and-trade deal that will send Jimmy Butler to the Heat and Josh Richardson to the Sixers has been agreed upon, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains (via Twitter), the trade between the Trail Blazers and Heat that will send Hassan Whiteside to Portland is becoming part of the transaction, with Maurice Harkless being re-routed to the Clippers to make it a four-team deal.

The Clippers will also receive a future first-round pick from Miami, according to Wojnarowski. Since the Heat have already traded their 2021 first-round selection to the Clippers and can’t give away consecutive future first-rounders, the next one that is trade-eligible would be the 2023 selection, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

As part of the four-team swap, the Sixers will send the draft rights to 2017 second-rounder Mathias Lessort to the Clippers, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

As of now then, this is what the deal would look like:

After acquiring Harkless, the Clippers will still have a maximum-salary slot available in the event that Kawhi Leonard decides to join them, tweets Marks. It would be a tight fit though, notes ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who tweets that the club might have to renounce a couple of small cap holds. Obviously, if Leonard decides to go elsewhere, that wouldn’t be necessary.

As for the Heat, they had let Goran Dragic‘s camp know that they’d likely to need to move the point guard in order to complete the Butler acquisition, but that shouldn’t be necessary after all, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Still, as Marks points out (via Twitter), Miami will have to make an additional move to make sure it gets below the hard cap $138.9MM that applies to teams that acquire a player via sign-and-trade. Waiving and stretching Ryan Anderson‘s contract looks like the most logical path for the Heat.

We have more details in other stories on the Butler/Richardson aspect of this deal, as well as the Blazers’ Whiteside acquisition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Haslem, Johnson, Waiters, Anderson, Allen

Veteran big man Udonis Haslem is training hard three or four days a week with the intensity of someone who wants to play next season, a source tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

While his longtime teammate Dwyane Wade called it a career at the end of the 2018/19 campaign, Haslem remains undecided on his future. He said during the season that he was leaning toward playing another year, and based on Jackson’s latest report, it sounds like that scenario remains very much in play.

Haslem doesn’t have a contract for next season, but the Heat have shown in recent years that they’re willing to keep bringing him back on one-year, minimum-salary contracts, despite the fact that he no longer sees much playing time for the club.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • James Johnson and Dion Waiters are considered available on the trade market this offseason, according to Barry Jackson. While I expect a number of Heat veterans to be “available” in trade talks, it’s telling that Johnson and Waiters are the ones specifically mentioned by Jackson. They both have multiple years left on their contracts, which indicates that the Heat may be looking to carve out more cap room for 2020 in addition to gaining extra flexibility in 2019.
  • Jackson writes that the Heat are expected to buy out Ryan Anderson before July 10, when his salary for 2019/20 would become fully guaranteed. While Jackson’s wording suggests that the Heat might ask Anderson to give up a little salary, the team likely wouldn’t push too hard for that, since the veteran sharpshooter previously agreed to reduce his guarantee for next season.
  • The Heat are expected to hire Malik Allen as an assistant coach on Erik Spoelstra‘s staff, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Allen, who began his NBA playing career with the Heat, would fill the position that opened up when Juwan Howard left for Michigan.
  • I previewed the Heat’s offseason earlier today.

Southeast Notes: Connelly, Heat, Ressler

Now that the Nuggets’ season is over after a thrilling seven-game series loss to Portland, the Wizards are ramping up their efforts to hire Denver’s current president of basketball operations Tim Connelly to the same position in Washington, per Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington.

While there were questions as to why the Wizards would wait until the Nuggets’ season was over to pursue Connelly, Standig notes that Connelly wasn’t expected to fully explore a move until the Nuggets’ playoff run ended, despite reportedly having interest in running the Wizards.

The Nuggets appear to have an extremely bright future, but Connelly is from Baltimore and began his front office career in Washington in 1996 when he was hired as intern before working his way up to director of player personnel under then-general manager and Wizards’ legend Wes Unseld.

The Nuggets have been in a similar situation as this before. Back in 2013, Nuggets’ GM Masai Ujiri took the same position with the Raptors after team owner Stan Kroenke acquiesced to Ujiri’s desire to return to Toronto. It will interesting to see if a similar situation will arise with Connelly and the Wizards.

There’s more from the Southeast Division this evening:

  • While it remains highly unlikely that either Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic opt out of their contract with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel relays that even if they did, Miami would still need to use the stretch provision on veteran forward Ryan Anderson just to get close to having enough cap space to sign a max-salary free agent. The more likely scenario is a trade of Dragic, but not Whiteside, after both opt in, especially considering the unlikelihood of a free agent wanting to sign with Miami if Whiteside and Dragic are both gone.
  • In another Q&A session for the Sun-Sentinel (link), Winderman agrees with one of his readers that the Heat probably mistimed their rebuild by beginning a little too early. Rather, they should have followed the lead of other Eastern Conference contenders and waited for LeBron James to leave the East before going into rebuild mode.
  • Despite a overwhelming consensus that this year’s draft crop is lacking in overall talent, Hawks’ owner Tony Ressler is not using that as an excuse, telling Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “If we can’t make two top-10 picks work for us, it’s our fault. Our job is to make them work and I think we will.”

Heat Notes: Whiteside, Haslem, Jack, Anderson

Heat center Hassan Whiteside is accepting his new reserve role without complaining, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Whiteside came off the bench Monday for the first time since he signed a four-year, $98MM contract in July of 2016. Whiteside, who missed the prior three games because of a hip injury, hasn’t been told how long the change will last.

“I came off a 29, 11 game, got hurt. This is what [coach Erik Spoelstra] wants to go with,” Whiteside said. “Can’t do nothing [but] just accept [it] and come out and dominate.”

That represents a change from last season, when Whiteside was vocal about his reduced playing time. Jackson notes that Spoelstra likes the inside combination of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk and may give them more time to see how they perform as starters. Whiteside, who has a $27MM player option for next season, is trying to make the best of the situation.

“I’m going to keep coming in and try to play the best I can out there,” he said. “It’s going to be a different unit out there. I get to play with (Dwyane Wade) more. I get to look at the bright side. You’re going to play against the backup guys. It’s a little different. You can read the game a little more, kind of see what’s going on, who’s hot, what kind of schemes they’re going with. It gives you some advantages.”

There’s more today from Miami:

  • After barely playing all season, 38-year-old Udonis Haslem has gotten first-half minutes in three of Miami’s last four games, Jackson adds in the same story. Haslem, who has indicated he would like to play another year, has appeared in just seven games and logged 28 minutes. “In short bursts, he has given our team a great emotional boost,” Spoelstra said. “Not only do I trust him, but the players trust him.”
  • Spoelstra said the Heat have always been “intrigued” by veteran guard Jarrett Jack, Jackson tweets. However, the organization has no plans to add Jack, even though it has two open roster spots. The 35-year-old signed a G League contract last week and was claimed yesterday by Miami’s affiliate in Sioux Falls.
  • Ryan Anderson has only played four games and 16 minutes since being acquired from the Suns last month and he probably won’t see much more action, writes Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel. The Heat plan to waive Anderson before his $21.26MM salary for next season becomes fully guaranteed on July 10, and they don’t want to risk an injury that might complicate that strategy.

Southeast Notes: Walker, Dragic, Fultz, Bryant

It’s not a guarantee that he’ll stay with the Hornets, but Kemba Walker is serving as Charlotte’s unofficial host for All-Star Weekend, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “Welcome everyone to my city!” Walker tweeted today as a greeting to the thousands of visitors headed to Charlotte for three days of festivities.

“This city has embraced me so much over the years,” Walker said. “Allowed me to be who I am. Allowed me to play through my mistakes early in my career, to become the player I am today. The fans have just been top notch, and I respect that because we haven’t been a top organization, haven’t gone to the playoffs every year. … Through that, they still embrace us, still embrace me. You have to respect that.”

Walker, who holds nearly every franchise scoring record, will be one of the hottest names on this year’s free agent market. A three-time All-Star, he is in the middle of his most productive season, averaging career highs with 25.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per night. Despite Walker’s affection for Charlotte, Bonnell states that it’s hard to predict what will happen this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat guard Goran Dragic is “making a lot of progress” after having knee surgery in December, but coach Erik Spoelstra tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald there’s still no timetable for his return. Miami has been expecting him to be ready soon after the All-Star break. In the same story, Spoelstra says Ryan Anderson, who has only played two minutes since being acquired from the Suns, is ready for a larger role if needed.
  • Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, both top six selections in the 2017 draft, have a chance to prove themselves with the Magic after battling injuries early in their careers, notes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando’s front office believes Fultz, who was acquired from the Sixers last week, can become a standout point guard because of his strength, explosiveness, court vision and playmaking.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant reached starter criteria this week by starting his 41st game of the season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The qualifying offer for the upcoming free agent has been increased to $3MM and Washington’s cap hold has been raised as well. Dwight Howard was supposed to be the starting center after signing with the Wizards last summer, but Bryant seized the opportunity when Howard was injured.

Heat Trade Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington To Suns

6:27pm: The trade is official, according to a tweet from the Suns.

3:49pm: Bartelstein is working with the Suns to get Ellington to a playoff contender after this deal is completed, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski. While a trade is possible, the veteran sharpshooter could also be waived.

3:30pm: The Heat are also sending Wayne Ellington to Phoenix in the trade, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. That makes the deal more interesting, as the Heat are now in position for significant savings this season as well as next season.

The lottery-bound Suns likely don’t have much use for Ellington, but could flip him in another trade before the deadline, as long as they don’t aggregate his salary with another player’s.

Ellington has the ability to veto a trade, so in order to sign off on the deal, he may expect Phoenix to subsequently trade or release him. He has given his approval, agent Mark Bartelstein confirms to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

Additionally, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter), Johnson will have to waive most or all of his trade bonus to make the trade work from a salary-matching perspective if Ellington’s salary is included.

2:41pm: The Heat are in agreement with the Suns on a trade that will send guard Tyler Johnson to Phoenix, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Ryan Anderson will head to Miami in the deal, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.

Johnson, 26, has averaged 10.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 2.5 APG with a shooting line of .426/.353/.693 in 44 games (25.5 MPG) for the Heat this season. Although he has been a solid role player in Miami, Johnson’s salary far exceeds his on-court production.

Due to a back-loaded offer sheet from the Nets, which the Heat matched in 2016, the fifth-year guard is earning approximately $19.25MM this season, with a 2019/20 player option worth the same amount. His current-year cap charge will increase a little more when he’s dealt, since his contract features a 15% trade kicker. That bonus will amount to another $1MM+ on his ’18/19 cap hit, assuming he doesn’t waive it. His option year will be unaffected.

Anderson, who has a $20.4MM cap hit of his own, was the only player on the Suns’ roster making more than $11.75MM this season, making him the logical returning piece for Johnson.

The 30-year-old was traded from Houston to Phoenix during the offseason and has played sparingly for the Suns, averaging 3.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 15 games (18.5 MPG). While Anderson has been a lethal outside shooter in past seasons, he has hit just 20.6% of his three-pointers this season after entering the year with a 38.2% career rate.

Anderson has a $21.26MM cap charge for 2019/20, the final year of his four-year contract, but that figure is only partially guaranteed for about $15.64MM. That will save the Heat some money next year, and they could reduce Anderson’s cap hit by $10MM+ more if they elect to release him and stretch his contract by July 10.

It’s hard to imagine Anderson will have a role in a crowded Heat rotation, but the Suns presumably plan to feature Johnson. He’s not a traditional point guard, but Johnson is capable of handling the ball and Phoenix – which lacks an answer at the point – will likely give him a chance to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.